Anticipation. Expectation. Last Tuesday I had a full tank of both as I left the office early and drove to Tucson’s Loft Cinema. We were returning to live, in-person Archaeology Cafés. Our last one was—hmmmm—February 2020!
So many people have told me that they were excited to return to in-person Archaeology Cafés. So many! Outreach Director Sara Anderson and the production team worked hard for months to put on a high-quality hybrid event.
I had high hopes for a strong turnout. As I drove over, I wondered how many old friends I’d finally see face-to-face. How many people might be waiting out in the lobby?
I got my answer, unfortunately—not many! I admit I was sorely disappointed.
Ashleigh Thompson gave an absolutely superb presentation, which elevated my mood. Ashleigh is an enrolled member of the Red Lake Ojibwe Tribe, and she is Director of Tribal Collaboration in Research and Education at Archaeology Southwest. So, I confess a bias. But many others have commented on the excellence of Ashleigh’s talk.
It was truly wonderful to be back at an in-person program. You can’t even imagine how large and powerful a PowerPoint presentation looks when projected onto a theater screen! That’s the message I want to share with our Tucson-area friends: This is an exciting, high-quality event, and you don’t want to miss it.
Our next café is January 9, 6:00 p.m., at the Loft and online. Our guest will be Michael Kotutwa Johnson, an enrolled member of the Hopi Tribe and University of Arizona (UA) staff. Dr. Johnson’s UA bio indicates that “His newest initiative is the call for the Restoration of the American Indian Food System based on the stewardship principles of Indigenous conservation.” He’ll share his perspective as a Hopi farmer in his talk, “Indigenous Agriculture: Planting for Survival.”
I look forward to seeing you there!
Retiring President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Changes to NAGPRA to Expedite Returns
The federal government yesterday announced a major overhaul to a decades-old law that governs the return of Native American ancestral remains and artifacts to their tribal nations. Department of the Interior Secretary Deb Haaland (Laguna Pueblo) announced final revisions to the 33-year-old Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act (NAGPRA) on Dec. 6 at the 2023 White House Tribal Summit in Washington, D.C. The final rule, nearly three years in the making, expedites and simplifies the process for tribal nations seeking their relatives’ return. The new rule closes a loophole that museums and federally funded institutions have used to retain ancestral remains and burial objects in their collections for years. It also sets a strict five-year deadline for them to re-inventory and return their collections of Native American human remains and burial objects to their present-day tribal nations. Jenna Kunze for Native News Online | Read more »
Read the announcement from the Department of the Interior »
How Museum Items Go Missing
In August 2023, news broke that a senior curator allegedly stole and sold nearly 2,000 objects from the British Museum over the course of several decades. The items included gold rings, bracelets, necklaces, and earrings, mainly from ancient Greece and Rome. The irony here is palpable: An institution infamous for displaying looted colonial artifacts had objects stolen by a staff member. One of the principal justifications museums often give for denying the restitution and repatriation of cultural objects is the purported need to safeguard the material within the institutions. The recent thefts contradict this argument and have strengthened claims from advocates representing countries such as Greece and Nigeria for the rightful return of their cultural heritage. Jeannette Plummer Sires for SAPIENS | Read more »
Continuing Coverage and Commentary: Chairman Mitchell Comments on Disputed Chaco Protection Zone
A tribal dispute over a sacred site in northwest New Mexico followed a recent decision by the Biden administration to protect that land from gas and oil mining. Chairman Mark Mitchell of the All Pueblo Council of Governors, who represents 20 sovereign pueblo Nations in New Mexico and Texas, attended this week’s third annual White House Tribal Nations Summit. … “It had nothing to do with hurting the Navajo Nation,” said Mitchell. “It was everything to do with protecting the landscape of our ancestors, and the footprints that are left.” Gabriel Pietrorazio for KJZZ (NPR) | Read more or listen now »
Video/Audio: Protecting Cultural Sites & Landscapes
Host Scott Michlin welcomed Paul Reed (Archaeology Southwest) and Theresa Pasqual (Pueblo of Acoma, Tribal Historic Preservation Office) for a thoughtful conversation about connections to place and the hows and whys of protecting ancestral landscapes, with particular attention to needed changes to federal public lands policy and management paradigms. KSJE FM | Watch now »
Telling a More Complete Story in Our National Parks (Interview with Chuck Sams)
Interior Secretary Deb Haaland announced Wednesday that the National Park Service is launching an initiative with Native American tribes to tell “a more complete story of American history” at the country’s 428 national park sites. “I want to talk about how we tell our stories,” Haaland, who is the first Indigenous U.S. Cabinet secretary, said in remarks at the White House Tribal Nations Summit. … HuffPost talked to National Park Service Director Charles Sams about what the new theme study will do, why it matters that Indigenous people be given the chance to tell their stories about the land in national parks, and what it means for how visitors will experience national parks after it is done. Sams, like Haaland, brings a fresh perspective to the idea of who tells the story of American history, as the first Indigenous person to lead the park service. Jennifer Bendery for HuffPost | Read more »
Podcast: Grand Canyon Speaks
Welcome to Grand Canyon Speaks! We are airing live interviews that park rangers had with artists from the 11 associated tribes of Grand Canyon National Park. This series explores the lives and perspectives of people who call Grand Canyon home. Season 1, episodes 1–6 available now. National Park Service | Listen now »
Reflections on a Long Career Preserving Cultural Heritage
“I will continue to be a conservator until my eyes go blind and my hands stop working,” said Marilen Pool, a senior project conservator at the University of Arizona’s (UArizona) Arizona State Museum (ASM). Through years of dedication and careful research, she has mastered her field and found great satisfaction. Pool has worked in museums since she was 19 years old—first as a curator and director before being trained in conservation in her early 30s. She has been with ASM since 1997. Since then, she has seen four different museum directors, an expansion of the conservation staff, and a streamlining of the museum work process. Michael Pisetsky for UA Research, Innovation, & Impact | Read more »
Ways to Help: Wood for Life Program
Homes on the Navajo and Hopi Nations largely rely on firewood to keep warm in the winter. A unique collaboration is stepping up to meet that need. KNAU’s Melissa Sevigny reports the Wood for Life program has supplied about 350 households so far this year with wood cut from a forest thinning project near Flagstaff. The program involves multiple partners including the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps. Their crews are on track to thin twenty acres on the Coconino National Forest this year. They fell small-diameter trees that have little market value and use chainsaws and chippers to make firewood and mulch. Melissa Sevigny for KNAU (NPR) | Read more or listen now »
Learn more about/donate to Wood for Life (National Forest Foundation) »
Learn more about/donate to Chizh for Cheii (Firewood for Grandpa) »
Position Announcement: Postdoctoral Research Scholar, Center for Digital Antiquity
The Center for Digital Antiquity (CDA) within the School of Human Evolution and Social Change at Arizona State University is seeking a postdoctoral researcher for an 18-month appointment beginning in December 2023. In collaboration with CDA researchers, the successful applicant will work on the Comparative Digital Archaeological Studies sponsored by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA). The postdoctoral researcher will work with DPAA to explore how the management and organization of archaeological data can enhance its search and recovery efforts for missing service personnel. ASU | Learn more »
Position Announcement: Postdoctoral Scholars, Crow Canyon
This Postdoctoral Scholar in Environmental Archaeology designs and conducts human-environment relationship-based archaeological research; disseminates research results by writing professional reports and papers; and ensures the accuracy, consistency, and completeness of data in the research database. The focus of this postdoctoral appointment is on synthesizing robust data sets from the Crow Canyon Multi-Site Research Database to contribute insights into human-environment interactions, climate change, and sustainability.
The Postdoctoral Scholar in Geospatial Archaeology designs and conducts geospatial research using Geographical Information Systems (GIS) and LiDAR (Light Detection and Ranging) archaeological datasets; disseminates research results by writing professional reports and papers; and ensures the accuracy, consistency, and completeness of data. The focus of this postdoctoral appointment is on synthesizing robust LiDAR and GIS data sets for community center sites located in the central Mesa Verde region and updating the Crow Canyon Community Center Database. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Learn more »
December Subscription Lectures (Santa Fe NM)
Dec. 18, Sara Dant, Losing Eden: An Environmental History of the American West. Santa Fe Woman’s Club, 1616 Old Pecos Trail, 6:00 p.m. $20 at the door or $55 for three lectures. Southwest Seminars | Learn more »
Still Some Spots Left! Dec. 16 In-Person Class (Tucson AZ): How Did People Etch Shell?
With ancient technologies expert Allen Denoyer. Learn how craftspeople working in the Hohokam tradition etched shells. Unleash your creativity and carve your original design into a wax- or lac-covered shell surface. With Allen’s assistance, you will submerge your shell in an acidic solution to be etched. Enhance your artwork using ochre pigment to emphasize and elevate your etching. Beginners are welcome! Open to individuals 12 years of age and older. Hands-On Archaeology (Archaeology Southwest) | Learn more »
REMINDER: Dec. 18 In-Person (Tucson AZ) and Online Event: The Risks and Rewards of Social Networks in the Ancient Southwest
With Matthew Peeples. Archaeological data provide the only direct source of information for exploring the structure and dynamics of social systems beyond the historical record. Not only are archaeologists increasingly able to replicate the findings of other social scientists, they are also beginning to discover patterns in human societies that transcend the timescales typically considered in comparative research. Peeples will outline the efforts of the one large collaborative research team (cyberSW) over the last 15 years to apply network methods and models toward questions at the intersection of social networks and culture. This work suggests that the nature of networks and the risks and rewards associated with network positions are historically contingent and tied to broader trends in political complexity and demographic scale. Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society | Learn more »
Jan.–April Online Class: Archaeology of the Southwest
With Allen Dart. This 14-session online class will meet from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. each Wednesday, January 3–April 3. The class covers the region’s history of archaeological research, dating systems, changes in cultures and population shifts through time, subsistence strategies, development of urbanization, and general characteristics of major cultural groups who have lived in the American Southwest for the past 13,000-plus years. Reservations and $109 donation prepayment required by 5:00 p.m. Dec. 29. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | Learn more »
Jan. 6 In-Person Workshop (Tucson AZ): Arrowhead-Making and Flintknapping
With Sam Greenleaf. Participants will learn how to make arrowheads, spear points, and other flaked stone artifacts from obsidian and other stone like ancient peoples did. The class is designed to foster understanding of how prehistoric peoples made essential tools, not to make artwork for sale. Reservations and $35 payment (includes all materials and equipment) required by 5:00 p.m. Jan. 4. Old Pueblo Archaeology Center | Learn more »
Jan. 9 In-Person (Tucson AZ) and Online Event: Indigenous Agriculture: Planting for Survival
With Michael Kotutwa Johnson. Join us in person or on Zoom. Johnson will cover the importance of culture and belief systems that are integrated into Indigenous agriculture systems. He will also reference the importance of place-based knowledge or the relationships that exist to make Indigenous agriculture systems so resilient. Archaeology Café (Archaeology Southwest) | Learn more and register (free) »
Feb. 8 Online Event: Why Corrugated Cooking Pots?
With Chris Pierce. In the early 11th century CE, the use of full body corrugated cooking pots spread rapidly through Ancestral Puebloan populations. This corrugation technology grew out of plain and neck-banded antecedents and was eventually replaced in the 15th century by a return to plain cooking pots. Several possible explanations have been proposed to account for this change, but none has garnered sustained support. Chris will review the results of his earlier work, present four new possible explanations for the adoption and eventual rejection of corrugated cooking pots, and evaluate evidence to test one of these hypotheses. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | 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!