It’s a Field Day!
When you open this email, I will be out on the land in one of my very favorite places—the San Pedro Valley.
I never need an excuse to go to the San Pedro. It’s always the right time. Today, I’m part of the team giving an archaeological overview to Alex Binford-Walsh, our brand-new San Pedro Community Steward.
Read all about him in this blog post (also linked below in today’s edition).
In the early 2000s, Archaeology Southwest had a half-time archaeologist, Jacquie Dale, who lived in the community of Cascabel. By talking through Preservation Archaeology values and interests and local concerns with community members, Jacquie played an important role in helping Archaeology Southwest protect some very important sites and landscapes in the valley. This is part of the foundation Alex will build upon.
Fortunately, Alex starts having lived a full decade in Cascabel. So, he knows the community. And he has an educational and experiential background in rural conservation. He’s an energetic generalist committed to learning about cultural resources and collaborating with Tribes.
The San Pedro Valley and its adjacent watersheds face challenges that feel more daunting and complex than they did 20 years ago.
Thanks to a number of generous donors, Archaeology Southwest is bringing new energy and resources to forging pathways for conserving these cultural and natural landscapes. At first view, their isolation from urban centers may seem to protect them. But, in reality, their low population density and rural setting make them targets.
We’ll keep you informed as we move ahead.
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. Make sure you read my friends’ and colleagues’ article on pre-contact agave domesticates—PCADs—linked as today’s featured new publication. The San Pedro Valley is one of the places where remnants of these ancient domesticates are still growing within their original field contexts.
Banner image: Botanist Wendy Hodgson amid domesticated San Pedro agaves, taken by co-researcher Andrew Salywon
Respect Indigenous Traditions about Eclipses
On Oct. 14, an annular eclipse will make its way across the Western Hemisphere. The moon, farther from Earth than during a total eclipse, will block much of our view of the sun, leaving only a fiery halo of light in a darkened sky. … But there’s at least one place where people can’t venture to watch: the sprawling desert lands of Navajo Nation, whose tribal parks in Arizona, New Mexico and Utah might have made a beautiful backdrop for the public to view a celestial “ring of fire.” On Sept. 15, Navajo Nation Parks & Recreation announced that all parks would be closed during the eclipse to accommodate traditional beliefs. … The park closures are a reminder that for Indigenous peoples across the Americas, eclipses and other astronomical phenomena have been experienced for millenniums and have played important roles in different cultures. Katrina Miller, Zolan Kanno-Youngs, and Ana Ionova for the New York Times | Read more »
Multistory Building Remnants Found as Part of Tempe’s 8th Street Project
Tempe is restarting its makeover of East Eighth Street after the project was put on pause in 2019, when the city found “significant” ancient artifacts in the form of a roughly 1,200-year-old Native American village buried under a portion of the project site. … Its inhabitants lived in “comfortable homes with plaster floors” and built a nearly four-mile canal to carry water from the Salt River to a field north of the main settlement, where they farmed maize, cotton, and squash. They were also traders who had pottery from as far away as Black Mesa, a site nearly 200 miles northeast. But the jewel in the crown of the excavation was an “exceptionally rare adobe multi-story building” that dates back to the 1300s. Only six of them have ever been found in the Phoenix Basin. Sam Kmack for the Arizona Republic (azcentral) | Read more »
Read Logan Simpson’s (PDF) summary of findings »
Seeking Better Protections for Lands adjacent to Joshua Tree
Tribal Nations and a California Representative voiced support last week for a bill that would memorialize public lands adjacent to the Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. U.S. Representative Raul Raiz (D-CA) announced in a press conference that he supports efforts to memorialize the public lands and is asking President Biden to designate them as a National Monument. Raiz said that earlier in September, he began the legislative process to memorialize the lands by introducing the Chuckwalla National Monument Establishment and Joshua Tree National Park Expansion Act of 2023. Raiz was joined by Colorado River Indian Tribes Councilmember Tommy Drennan; Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe President Jordan D. Joaquin; Colorado River Indian Tribes Council Elder David Harper; California Natural Resources Agency Secretary Wade Crowfoot; Desert Hot Springs Councilmember Gary Gardner; Indio Mayor Oscar Ortiz; and local tribal community members, and representatives from conservation organizations in the region. Darren Thompson at Native News Online | Read more »
Continuing Coverage: White Sands Footprints
Dozens of awe-inspiring ancient footprints left on the shores of an ice age lake have reignited a long-running debate about when the first people arrived in the Americas. Two years ago, a team of scientists came to the conclusion that human tracks sunk into the mud in White Sands National Park in New Mexico were more than 21,000 years old. The provocative finding threatened the dominant thinking on when and how people migrated into the Americas. Soon afterward, a technical debate erupted about the method used to estimate the age of the tracks, which relied on an analysis of plant seeds embedded with the footprints. Now, a study published in the journal Science confirms the initial finding with two new lines of evidence: thousands of grains of pollen and an analysis of quartz crystals in the sediments. Carolyn Y. Johnson in the Washington Post | Read more »
Read the study in Science (open access) »
Continuing Coverage: Chaco Protection Zone Dispute
“It’s really disheartening, the divisiveness that has been caused now between Navajo Nation and Pueblo tribes,” said Gaylord Siow of Laguna Pueblo. He says he understands the Navajo Nation situation, but to him, some things are more important than money. “These traditional cultural places, once they’re disturbed, and once they’re desecrated, that we can never return them back to their original the way they were built in, by hands of our ancestors.” Despite the protests, lawyers and legislators, the Navajo Nation itself is unlikely to file a lawsuit. President Nygren said the administration needs to focus limited resources on other priorities like water disputes, and he doesn’t think Secretary Haaland’s action was necessarily illegal. Alice Fordham for KUNM (NPR) | Read more or listen now »
Canadian Museums Reckon with Colonial Past
Museums across the West are having an identity crisis, wrestling with their roles in society and their colonial heritage. But as Canada has begun reckoning intensely in recent years with the ugly chapters of its history with Indigenous people, its museums have pushed further than most in transforming themselves—scrapping galleries, rethinking their exhibitions, refashioning the stories they tell and who has the power to tell them, in a process called “decolonization.” That transformation has drawn criticism that culture is being politicized, and it has turned several museums into flash points. The tensions could have been confined to the rarefied world of museums if they had not reached the country’s most prominent one: the National Gallery, nearly as old as Canada itself, whose identity and national narrative it has helped shape. Norimitsu Onishi in the New York Times | Read more »
SAPIENS Debuts Podcast Season 6
… [F]ive years after Mead’s death in 1978, an anthropologist named Derek Freeman published Margaret Mead and Samoa: The Making and Unmaking of an Anthropological Myth. The book rebutted the central claims Mead had made in her career-launching work, sparking a media sensation and challenging central intellectual underpinnings of the 20th century. And the controversy provoked Samoans to ask who gave Mead or Freeman the right to use their people as a foil to advance an agenda that had little to do with Samoans themselves. This was the story we wanted the SAPIENS podcast to tell. We wanted to revisit the life and legacy of anthropology’s most famous public thinker, give Freeman’s critiques a fair hearing, and invite Samoans to speak for themselves. One of our first partners in this plan was Sia Figiel, a renowned poet and playwright who wrote the novel where we once belonged, a winner of the prestigious Commonwealth Prize, which directly speaks back to Mead and Freeman. Chip Colwell for SAPIENS | Learn more and listen now »
Editor-in-Chief Chip Colwell also notes that SAPIENS is releasing educational materials to supplement the podcasts, as well as Sia Figiel’s Samoan translation of Coming of Age in Samoa.
Casa Grande Bookstore Closed Oct. 10–13
Casa Grande Ruins National Monument’s bookstore is scheduled to be closed to the public for a remodel, from October 10–13. This remodel will create more space for visitors and spruce up the front desk and store register areas, as well. The ancestral site will still be available for viewing and walking around during these closures by using a gate that will take visitors around the west side of the visitor center. Visitors will also be able to walk through the museum and watch the park movie in the theater, as they will be able to enter from the back visitor center doors. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument (email press release)
Blog: Community Stewardship in the San Pedro Valley
I am particularly keen on using my position at Archaeology Southwest to boost landscape-scale conservation, to promote Tribal interests and sovereignty, and to expand collaborations among diverse agencies, organizations, and communities. I feel that I’ve found the perfect job, one that will allow me to bring my experience and interests to bear on promoting a mindful culture and sustainable environment for all members of the community—earth, waters, plants, and animals. Given the patchwork characteristic of landownership and management across the West and throughout the San Pedro region, landscape conservation is a great challenge. Although many conservation efforts focus on single properties or small areas, ecologists and preservationists now agree that it is more effective to develop ecological and cultural restoration across landscapes and property boundaries. Alex Binford-Walsh at the Preservation Archaeology blog (Archaeology Southwest) | Read more »
Publication Announcement: Pre-Contact Agave Domesticates
Wendy C. Hodgson, E. Jane Rosenthal, Andrew M. Salywon, Pre-contact agave domesticates – living legacy plants in Arizona’s landscape, Annals of Botany, 2023. Read now (open access) »
Position Announcement: Tribal Liaison, Chicago IL
The Tribal Liaison plays a vital role in fostering meaningful relationships between the museum and Indigenous communities, tribes, and nations. Working closely with our Repatriation, Exhibitions, Institutional Advancement, and Legal teams, they are responsible for developing and implementing strategies that promote collaboration, respect, and understanding while ensuring the museum’s programs, exhibitions, and collections reflect the diverse perspectives and contributions of Indigenous peoples. The Tribal Liaison acts as a liaison, facilitator, and advocate, working closely with tribal representatives, museum staff, and collaborators to promote cultural exchange, inclusivity, and mutual learning. Field Museum | Learn more »
Position Announcement: Tribal Engagement Program Manager, NM
Bandelier National Monument will soon be recruiting for a new Tribal Engagement Program Manager position to serve 5 New Mexico parks: Bandelier, Valles Caldera, Pecos, Salinas Pueblo, and Petroglyph. We’d like to learn about potential candidates interested in the position, so that we can recruit the candidate pool effectively. Please see the linked outreach notice, and feel free to pass it along to any individual you think may be interested. Questions, responses or notes of interest should be sent to email@example.com, preferably by November 15. National Park Service | Learn more »
October Subscription Lectures (Santa Fe NM)
Oct. 16, Laura Marshall Clark (Muscogee), Clans, Chiefs, and Kin: A Good Red Road on the Emerald Isle; Oct. 23, Maxine McBrinn, Linda Cordell and the Future of Southwest Archaeology; Oct. 30, John Ninneman, Skywatchers of the Ancient Southwest. Southwest Seminars | Learn more »
REMINDER: Oct. 16 Online and In-Person (Tucson AZ) Event: Tree-Ring Dating Techniques for the Desert Basin of Southern and Central AZ
With Nicholas Kessler. This talk will explain how recent advances in radiocarbon dating and calibration, referred to as wiggle-matching, enable high-resolution tree-ring-based chronology building. Wiggle-matching has already been applied to well-known Arizona sites such as Montezuma’s Castle and Snaketown, and the results of these case studies will be detailed. Prospects for larger-scale projects—some already underway—will also be discussed, and the future of tree-ring radiocarbon dating will be forecast as it pertains to what can be gained from a new focus on tree-ring dating in the desert basins of the Southwest. Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society | Learn more »
REMINDER: Oct. 19 Online Event: Scientific Evidence for Tonto Basin Salado Polychrome Pottery Production and Exchange
With Mary Ownby. Chemical (neutron activation analysis) and petrographic analyses of both decorated and utility ware vessels from six Tonto Basin sites illustrate the complexity of Salado Polychrome production and consumption. The results show there were multiple pottery production locations (though one is clearly dominant) and significant exchange among sites in the basin. The use of raw materials atypical of Hohokam ceramic traditions may indicate some Salado Polychrome was made by migrant potters. Third Thursday Food for Thought series (Old Pueblo Archaeology Center) | Learn more and register (free) »
Oct. 19 Online Event: Medicine Women: The Story of the First Native American Nursing School
With Jim Kristofic. After the Indian wars, many Americans still believed that the only good Indian was a dead Indian. But at Ganado Mission in the Navajo country of northern Arizona, a group of missionaries and doctors – who cared less about saving souls and more about saving lives – chose a different way and persuaded the local parents and medicine men to allow them to educate their daughters as nurses. The young women struggled to step into the world of modern medicine, but they knew they might become nurses who could build a bridge between the old ways and the new. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Learn more and register (free) »
Oct. 26 Online Event: Transilient Acts: Managing Change in the Ancestral Pueblo World
With Mike Adler. This talk focuses on the wide range of practices and, likely, beliefs that have long been part of Ancestral and modern Pueblo strategies to manage change within their communities. Dr. Adler starts with a critique of how archaeology currently uses the concept of “resilience” to model past practices dealing with change and transition and poses “transilience” as a more appropriate model for understanding such practices. Examples from Pueblo communities in the Northern Rio Grande, including Picuris Pueblo and ancestral homes of the Picuris people, are detailed to illustrate past transilient acts and practices. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Learn more and register (free) »
Nov. 7 Online Event: Ancient Domestication of the Four Corners Potato: Archaeology, Sex, and Genetics
With Lisbeth Louderback. The memories of Diné and Hopi elders reveal the Four Corners potato (Solanum jamesii) to be an ancient food and lifeway medicine, once collected from the wild and grown in now faded gardens, diminished over the last century by drought and displaced by potatoes from elsewhere. We will present the latest evidence gathered during a 10-year, collaborative study that addresses use, transport, and manipulation by ancient people. Mating experiments, genetic sequencing and food remnants on manos and metates have revealed a convincing story of this fascinating plant species. Archaeology Café (Archaeology Southwest) | Learn more and register (free) »
Nov. 8 In-Person (Monticello UT) and Online Event: Bears Ears National Monument Advisory Meeting
The Bureau of Land Management Monticello Field Office and U.S. Department of Agriculture Mani-La Sal National Forest will be hosting a public meeting of the Bears Ears National Monument Advisory Committee on Wednesday, November 8. Planned agenda items include an overview of the resource management planning efforts to date, next steps in planning, general management, and administrative updates. The agenda will include time for public comment. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. MT at the Hideout located at 648 South Hideout Way. Native News Online | Learn more »
Nov. 17 & 18 Tour: Salado, Whatever That Means
With Rich Lange and Al Dart. Understand why the “Salado phenomenon” perplexed archaeologists for decades and how they see it today. The tour visits Casa Grande Ruins in Coolidge and Besh Ba Gowah and Gila pueblos in Globe on Friday, and the Tonto National Monument Lower Cliff Dwelling and Schoolhouse Point Platform Mound site near Roosevelt Lake on Saturday. Reservations and $109 donation due by 5:00 p.m. November 14: 520-798-1201. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | Learn more »
Remember to send us notice of upcoming webinars and Zoom lectures, tours and workshops, and anything else you’d like to share with the Friends. Thanks!