I mark the arrival of fall as the date that I head back to Catalina State Park to renew my hikes and my immersion in an incredible cultural landscape. Last year fall arrived on October 16. This year it arrived on November 12. That significant offset is yet another measure of climate change, as this has been the hottest year on record for planet Earth. Even with the extra weeks of pause before I headed to the park, sunscreen dripped into my eyes and I consumed a full quart-and-a-half of water.
It was a very good day.
I revisited a small archaeological site near the southern boundary of the Park—nearly a mile from the very dry Sutherland Wash and 400 feet higher than the residential sites that cluster along the wash. I’m always keeping an eye out for agaves as I hike in the Park. According to my notes, I spotted 25 agave clusters. Well over half of them had flowered, died, and left no offspring. I need to consult with my colleagues at Desert Botanical Garden to assess whether that is an alarming trend or just expected variability.
At the small archaeological site, I had to adjust my eyes and my memory. The artifact frequency seemed sparser than I remembered. On previous visits I interpreted a rock alignment as an enclosing wall. This time, after walking systematically back and forth across the site, I noticed that the rock alignments followed the elevation contours. They were terraces! There are definitely two small house structures, but the major features at the site were for dry farming.
In my career I’ve had tremendous opportunities to visit and revisit some of the same archaeological sites. And each new visit is an opportunity to reassess my previous insights.
I have logged many visits to Catalina State Park. In retirement, I plan to put those visits together into a synthesis. Sunday’s hike was a great energizer. Trekking on a trail, not urban concrete, felt good. It was fun to visit this small site a half-decade after I’d seen it previously.
As I paused near the center of the site, a roadrunner walked into view, searching intently for food. I spoke to it, and it moved toward me. I felt welcomed. And it felt safe. It continued its hunting, and I continued mine.
I look forward to future visits.
Until next week,
Retiring President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. Stand by for an announcement next week—the next leader of Archaeology Southwest! I’m so happy and so proud that this momentous transition is soon coming to pass.
Continuing Coverage: SunZia Transmission Line Must Avoid the San Pedro
Work on a $10 billion project that will funnel renewable energy across the West has come to a halt in southwestern Arizona, with Native American tribes saying the federal government has ignored concerns about effects that the SunZia transmission line will have on religious and cultural sites. Federal land managers temporarily suspended work on the SunZia transmission project along a 50-mile (80-kilometer) segment last week after the Tohono O’odham Nation asked for immediate intervention, saying bulldozers were clearing a stretch of the San Pedro Valley and that one or more historic site were demolished. The tribe was joined in their plea by the San Carlos Apache Tribe and archaeologists. Zuni Pueblo in neighboring New Mexico and other tribes in the Southwestern U.S. also have raised concerns, saying the area holds cultural and historical significance for them as well. Susan Montoya Bryant (Associated Press) in the Washington Post | Read more »
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Podcast: O’odham Park Ranger
Tucson is the only place in the states that has two National Parks situated on the west and east sides; there is a Saguaro Nat’l Park East and West. Special guest Raeshaun Ramon (Tohono O’odham, San Carlos Apache, Hopi-Tewa), who is currently working at Saguaro National Park, shares his experiences as a Park Ranger and his role in creating a safe space for his community (tribal members) to be inspired and welcomed to the park. In this episode we’ll hear Raeshaun talk about his life as a Park Ranger and why his background plays a big part in the work that he does in the community. Cultivating Indigenous Voices (KXCI) | Listen now »
Support Utah Diné Bikéyah’s Traditional Foods Program
It’s Native American Heritage Month, and here at UDB, we are excited to announce the revitalization of our Traditional Foods Program. You can help make a difference in Indigenous communities by donating to our developing programming. Our Traditional Foods Program is looking to expand into supporting youth involvement in cultural stewardship, providing indigenous communities access to knowledge about traditionally sourced foods, and community building amongst the tribes. Stay tuned for more information and updates on programming initiatives. If you would like to donate for this year’s Indigenous Giving Tuesday, this year’s fundraising will contribute to our Traditional Foods Program here at UDB. Please select the Traditional Food option link. UDB | Learn more and donate now »
Recap: 9th Annual Repatriation Conference
This past week, tribal leaders, museum employees, academics, government officials, and repatriation practitioners gathered together in Shawnee, Oklahoma to discuss returning Indigenous human remains and burial objects back to their rightful tribal nations. They were each participants in the 9th Annual Repatriation Conference, hosted by the Association on American Indian Affairs, at the Citizen Potawatomi Nation’s Grand Casino Hotel and Resort in Shawnee, Oklahoma. The conference’s theme was “Building the Next Fire.” For three days, more than 300 in-person attendees heard panelists speak to the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) from many different angles. New York Times bestselling author Angeline Boulley (Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians) delivered a keynote about her new novel, Warrior Girl Unearthed, a thriller she described as a “Native Laura Croft,” with a twist: Instead of robbing tombs, her main character robs museums to take back her ancestors. Jenna Kunze for Native News Online | Read more »
Disrupting the Wonder Cabinet
It is Monday morning at First Americans Museum (FAM), and a group of fifth graders are bustling with excitement as they embark on a gallery tour. A museum educator welcomes the students in her native language and emphasizes the uniqueness of a museum led by tribal citizens. Her first-person use of “we,” “our,” and “us” when describing First American stories, cultural materials, and values is reflected in the exhibition’s interpretive texts. …The staff of FAM are among many museum professionals seeking to disrupt the wonder cabinet and white cube methods of presentation still endemic among collections of Indigenous cultural materials. These conventional models—whether richly ornamented in dark oak and brass or minimalistic with stark white walls—may feel nostalgic or elevated to some, but can make an otherwise thoughtful and compelling exhibition feel downright hostile for many more, namely the descendants of people brutalized by the British, other European, and American empires. Adrienne Lalli Hills and Margaret Middleton at the American Alliance of Museums website (article reproduced from Exhibition 42:2) | Read more »
Publication Announcement: Rock Art Ranch
“Comings and Goings: 13,000 Years of Migrations In and Around Rock Art Ranch, Northeastern Arizona” is the newest volume in the Arizona Archaeological Society’s Arizona Archaeologist. It details surveys and excavations by the University of Arizona School of Anthropology/Arizona State Museum field school. Edited by E. Charles Adams and Richard C. Lange, this volume reveals a very different history from the Homol’ovi sites just 20 miles away. Members of AAS receive a copy as a member benefit. Others can buy copies at Amazon.com. Arizona Archaeological Society | Learn more »
November Subscription Lectures (Santa Fe NM)
Nov. 20, Eric Blinman, Baskets to Pots in the Upper San Juan; Nov. 27, Eric Blinman, Anti-Chaco in the Upper San Juan. Southwest Seminars | Learn more »
Nov. 16 Online Event: Geographies of the Sacred
With Dr. Matthew Martinez (Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo; Executive Director of the Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project). Martinez will draw upon landscapes and rock images that reflect Indigenous movement and living histories. Despite an ongoing misrepresentation of being nonliterate, Indigenous people have always been skilled at documenting stories. Tewa people view themselves within a larger ecological system interconnected to all things living. Mesa Prieta (Tsikwaye) is one example of a vast landscape with more than 100,000 petroglyphs and archaeological features that date back thousands of years. Located on the northern Rio Grande region, this place is embedded in stories that are foundational to sharing New Mexico histories and beyond. The Archaeological Conservancy | Learn more and register (free) »
REMINDER: Nov. 16 Online Event: What Do State Historic Preservation Officers Do?
With Arizona State Historic Preservation Officer Kathryn Leonard. Leonard will discuss “How it All Comes Together: The Role of the State Historic Preservation Office in the Federal Preservation Network,” including the National Historic Preservation Act and the SHPO’s role in ensuring each state’s fragile heritage resources are considered in project planning. Third Thursday Food for Thought series (Old Pueblo Archaeology Center) | Learn more and register (free) »
REMINDER: Nov. 16 Online Event: Return Migrations
With Lyle Balenquah, Nate Francis, Ritchie Sahneyah, and Autry Lomahongva. In the Fall of 2022 and Spring of 2023, four Indigenous men participated in two Crow Canyon Cultural Explorations trips within the Bears Ears National Monument. Each was invited along to share cultural perspectives and reconnect to parts of their history found on the landscape. This webinar highlights their experiences as they pursue opportunities to train and work as Indigenous guides across their ancestral lands and rivers. Their discussions focus on issues such as increasing guide diversity, creating a familiar guide culture, and guiding as a means for community-based cultural preservation and education. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Learn more and register (free) »
REMINDER: Nov. 17 In-Person Event (Tucson AZ): Circling the Presidio: A Tucsonense Foodmap
With Melani Martinez. Borderlands communities have been creating a dynamic food landscape providing a system of sustenance around generations of shared tables, but throughout the generations there has also been a great deal of loss. Today we continue to watch as family recipes, mercados, farms, eateries and restaurants go extinct. What happens to families when these food hubs expire? One example comes from a family who moved across borders and between rancho and pueblo spaces to create a tiny food store in the Presidio. Though the store closed its doors more than 20 years ago, it provides a mental map and a flavor memory that still reverberates in Tucson. 3:30 p.m. on the University of Arizona campus. Nacho-bar reception to follow. Southwest Center | Learn more »
REMINDER: Nov. 20 In-Person (Tucson AZ) and Online Event: Bell Rocks and Megaphones: Discoveries of sounds coupled with petroglyphs in Ancestral O’odham (Hohokam) ritual landscapes
With Janine Hernbrode. Distributed amidst the petroglyphs at three of the largest Ancestral O’odham (Hohokam) petroglyph sites in Southern Arizona are assemblages of boulders that resonate when struck producing distinct bell-like sounds. The visual traces of sound-making on large bell rocks and adjacent bedrock indicate they were not only chimed with percussion strikers to resonate with sound but were also abraded with a grinding motion to produce sound volumes. Some of the bell rocks investigated also appear to have been roughly shaped or pecked to resemble animal heads, an indication of the boulders being an object accorded animacy and of having “voice.” Many of these boulders have petroglyphs and use-wear evidence consistent with usage during pre-contact times. The program also includes a previously unknown co-occurrence of specific Ancestral O’odham (Hohokam) imagery and landscape features that produce a megaphone-like effect at three petroglyph sites near Tucson. Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society | Learn more »
Dec. 5 In-Person (Tucson AZ) and Online Event: More than Subsistence
With Ashleigh Thompson. Join us in person or on Zoom for “More than Subsistence: How Anishinaabe Traditional Foodways Nourish Culture, Kinship, and Community Wellbeing.” Across Indigenous country, Native people are revitalizing their traditional foods. Join Ashleigh as she explores the importance of traditional foods to her community—the Red Lake Ojibwe—and learn why these traditions are significant to culture, kinship, and community wellbeing. Archaeology Café (Archaeology Southwest) | Learn more and register (free) »
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!