Archaeology Southwest has had three homes since our founding in 1989. Between 1989 and 2001, we were incubated within the North Tucson Boulevard offices of Desert Archaeology, Inc. We rented space in the Historic YWCA on West University Boulevard from late 2000 to 2010. We’ve been in the historic Bates Mansion complex on Ash Alley in downtown Tucson since early 2010.
As I sit in my desk and glance to the left, I view Ash Alley through my two windows. A few steps to the right, and I’m in Archaeology Southwest’s wonderful library.
My task over the next 12 days is to empty my office. There will be lots of recycling, a moderate amount sent to the landfill, a pared-down number of pages of organizational history, a bunch of books to give away, and an inevitable (hopefully small) pile of “not easily classifiable, but possibly important” papers or items.
Some things will go to my home office, which is already in pretty good shape. That will be my new base of operations as of January 15, when Steve Nash arrives.
Although I’m leaving my Archaeology Southwest office, the Bates Mansion complex will be one of several ways and reasons I will stay connected to Archaeology Southwest into the future. These buildings are important parts of our organizational history and our future. They have gradually accommodated our growth since 2010. We now reside in 70 percent of the indoor space. The remainder is leased to Historic Bates Mansion, a vintage wedding venue, run by a local couple who were married here and then decided they wanted others to share their joy. Check them out!
Steve’s arrival will usher in a literal reorientation of the Archaeology Southwest office. We will shift our public entrance from Ash Alley to the east side of the building complex, which faces on Stone Avenue. Though we’re not actually moving, we will soon be changing our address to 281 North Stone Avenue.
Our move to downtown Tucson in 2010 was the result of a long-term plan. We played a significant role in highlighting Tucson’s history, and we wanted to be part of the downtown revitalization that started in the early 2000s and continues today.
We recently completed the first phase of a long-term restoration and adaptation plan that will care for the historic fabric of our complex and enhance its ability to serve the staff and partners who are shaping Archaeology Southwest’s future.
Historic buildings are “forever projects.” And the Bates Mansion is a project I look forward to being a part of. Planning, fundraising, keeping up with trends and opportunities in downtown Tucson—all of these are very appealing to me.
Tucsonans—I hope to see you next Tuesday at the Loft Cinema. Our in-person Cafés are worth coming out after dark!
Retiring President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
P.S. I had a great extended break—nearly two full weeks—back with my daughter and grandkids in Washington Crossing, Pennsylvania. It was fun to see some different birds. Nothing all that exotic, but the White-Throated Sparrow was new to me, and I always enjoy seeing a Tufted Titmouse, Black-Capped Chickadees, and a Downy Woodpecker. Having grown up in southern Michigan, I always thought of Robins as birds that migrated south in the winter. There were sure a lot of them in southeastern Pennsylvania.
Banner image: Paul Hintze
Year in Review: 2023 Indigenous Conservation Highlights
In 2023, the complexity of the environmental issues that impact Native communities took center stage. The unique legal, political and economic hurdles tribal nations face in protecting their land, water, air—and people—became vividly apparent. Anna V. Smith and Shana Lombard for High Country News | Read more »
Year in Review: Thousands of Ancestors Returned to Tribes in 2023
American museums and universities repatriated more ancestral remains and sacred objects to tribal nations this year than at any point in the past three decades, transferring ownership of an estimated 18,800 Native American ancestors, institutions reported. And more repatriations are forthcoming. Museums, universities and government agencies have filed 380 repatriation notices this year—more than the previous two years combined—under the federal Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act, declaring that they plan to make human remains and burial items available to tribes. “By every measurement, this has been a record-breaking year,” Melanie O’Brien, manager of the Interior Department’s National NAGPRA Program, said during a recent federal review committee hearing on repatriation. “I’m reminded every day that with each notice that gets published and every inventory that is updated, it means that another ancestor is closer to being respectfully returned.” Logan Jaffe, Ash Ngu, and Mary Hudetz for ProPublica | Read more »
Coalition Seeks to Establish Mimbres Peaks National Monument
Last week, a collaborative effort was announced to turn the Florida Mountains and surrounding peaks in Luna County, New Mexico, into the Mimbres Peak National Monument, which advocates say would conserve Indigenous cultural and historical resources while boosting the recreational economy. The proposed national monument would include more than 245,000 acres that are home to cultural and historic sites important to modern-day tribes and pueblos who hold deep spiritual connections with the lands. “The lands surrounding Deming hold stories and a history that have shaped our community for generations,” said Luna County Commissioner Ray Trejo in a press release. “They also hold opportunities for the future. We need to look no further than neighboring counties to know that protected public lands are good for our local economies and the people who call New Mexico home.” Native News Online | Read more »
The original human inhabitants of this land, ancient Puebloans and Diné, left their intricate and beautiful petroglyphs and pictographs on rock palates across these ranges. Because they are higher than the surrounding creosote plains, these sky islands capture clouds that feed their lusher vegetation. The rains they catch feed the basin and range aquifers that farmers in the fertile Mimbres and Mesillas Basins rely on. The sky islands of southwestern New Mexico are treasures of biological, cultural and recreational resources. Importantly, the land in these sky islands belongs to the American public and they are managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The creation of the monument will maintain traditional uses of the land including cattle grazing and existing mining claims. Carlos Martínez del Rio and Blair Wolf in the Santa Fe New Mexican | Read more »
Virtual Tours: Cliff Palace and Balcony House, Mesa Verde National Park
In partnership with Cyark, Mesa Verde National Park has created two virtual cliff dwelling tours. Consisting of 3D, manipulable models of Balcony House and Cliff Palace, each is narrated by different members of our staff who seek to show you just how much there is to learn about these remarkable villages and the people who built them.
Our virtual tour of Cliff Palace is a wide-ranging tour that aims to show both Indigenous and archaeological perspectives on the continent’s largest cliff dwelling, demonstrating how using both perspectives expands our understanding of these special places. Indigenous Interns Satchel Martin, Ian Bowekaty, and Jordan Fragua, and Archaeologist Chris McAllister will show you the incredible amount you can learn about just one site in the park! Experience now »
For a traditional ranger-led tour, Ranger Drew Reagan takes you into Balcony House, one of the best-preserved dwellings in the park thanks to its location in a tight canyon alcove. He takes you on a step-by-step tour of each section of the dwelling, explaining the significance and potential use of each by their residents. Plus, you don’t even have to climb the thirty-foot-tall ladder or squeeze through an 18-inch-wide tunnel! Experience now »
Two of North America’s Oldest Continuously Inhabited Communities
When you think of our Nation’s oldest settlements, stories of Plymouth Rock, Jamestown, or Albany may come to mind. Yet America’s oldest towns are actually right here on the Colorado Plateau—Oraibi in Arizona and Acoma Pueblo in New Mexico. Carrie Cannon for KNAU | Read more or listen now »
Use of Native American Pottery in Tucson’s Historic Barrio Libre
In 2001 Desert Archaeology conducted archaeological excavations on Block 136 in Tucson’s Barrio Libre. This barrio is located south of the downtown and was the home of many Mexican Americans, Native Americans, and African Americans during the Territorial (1856-1912) and early Statehood (beginning 1912) periods. Our work on Block 136 focused on an L-shaped apartment building occupied by Mexican immigrants and its backyard. A variety of features were present, including outhouse pits, a large soil mining pit filled with trash, planting pits, and an adobe bread oven. Jim Heidke and Homer Thiel for Field Journal (Desert Archaeology, Inc.) | Read more »
Happy 15th Anniversary to the Zuni Youth Enrichment Project!
The Zuni Youth Enrichment Project celebrated its 15th anniversary this year, a major milestone for a grassroots, nonprofit youth project that started in 2009 with a small summer camp for Zuni children. Now, 15 years later, ZYEP is a nationally recognized, Zuni-led organization with robust programming in physical activity, food sovereignty, art, and youth development. That first summer camp started with just 20 participants. Today, ZYEP serves more than 1,000 young people each year and remains dedicated to building strong intergenerational relationships, increasing resilience, and providing healthy, nurturing spaces and fun, enriching programs. Native News Online | Read more »
Commentary: Genocidal Dispossession Shown in New Film Continues Today
By what imagined rights does the United States attempt to legitimize its original conquest of Indigenous Peoples and continue to obliterate Native Americans’ Holy Places? In the quest for mineral enrichments—be it oil, copper, lithium, or uranium—how long should we enable and benefit from the sort of genocidal dispossession depicted in Killers of the Flower Moon? … Like the murderous rampages by the non-Indians who killed, connived and swindled the Osage for their oil, and where the United States took nearly a blind eye to that onslaught, the extirpation of Native American Holy Places has become intolerably justified by those who substitute the necessity of economic exploitation and plunder for their formerly righteous religious indignation toward Indians as savages. Government advocacy for obliterating Native American Holy Places, along with any arguments that offenses to the “religious sensibilities” of Native Americans are more acceptable than offenses to others, are acts of violent, race-based inhumanity. Robert Alan Hershey and John R. Welch in Counterpunch | Read more »
Continuing Coverage: Ceremony Planned for Returned Belongings from Wounded Knee
Last November, more than 150 items stolen from mass graves of Wounded Knee massacre victims were returned to a group of descendants, the Si’Tanka Ta’ Oyate O’mniceye (Descendants of the Si’ Tanka Nation). Now, a year later, the group plans to burn the artifacts to mark the end of the one-year traditional bereavement period called wasigla. … A majority of the items are clothing, mostly moccasins and ghost dance shirts. All of the clothes had been removed from the victims of the massacre by grave robbers. Some moccasins have blood splatters on them. The rest are peace pipes, dolls, two tomahawks, a bow and arrows and a few beaded lizard and turtle amulets/pouches containing umbilical cords. Amelia Shafer in the Rapid City Journal | Read more »
Continuing Coverage: New Mexico Names John Taylor-Montoya as New Director of OAS
The New Mexico native said as a boy he enjoyed archaeological artifacts and stories, and the book Art and Archaeology, which he first read as a child, “encapsulated everything I loved and still love to do.” Taylor-Montoya will soon hold the top archaeology job in the state. The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs announced Monday it has named him executive director of the Office of Archaeological Studies. Taylor-Montoya, now a program director for the office, will start his new job Jan. 6. He will take over the position previously held by Eric Blinman, who was fired by Cultural Affairs Secretary Debra Garcia y Griego in February. Santa Fe New Mexican | Read more »
In Memoriam: Klee Benally
Indigenous activist, musician and artist Klee Benally has died. The announcement of his death on Sunday was made on social media by members of his family and the group Indigenous Action. A cause was not specified though in a recent social media post, Benally said he’d experienced health problems and had been in the hospital. He was a member of the Navajo Nation and known for his work to protect sacred sites in the region, including the San Francisco Peaks, and fought against the use of reclaimed wastewater for snowmaking at Arizona Snowbowl and uranium mining near the Grand Canyon. KNAU | Read more »
Position Announcement: Archeologists, El Centro and Arcata CA
The California state office of the Bureau of Land Management has two openings for Archaeologists (GS 7–11) in its Arcata and El Centro Field Offices. USAJobs.gov | Learn more »
Federal Internships in Archaeology and Related Fields
The Society for American Archaeology has put together a page of resources for students interested in pursuing internships with the Federal government. The page is available for all to use, not just SAA members. Learn more »
Thanks to Jeremy Kulisheck (USDA National Forest Service) for bringing this to our attention.
January Subscription Lectures (Santa Fe NM)
Jan. 8, Paul F. Reed, Working Collaboratively: Pueblos, Tribes, and the New Mexico Preservation and Outreach Program of Archaeology Southwest; Jan. 15, Dwight Pitcaithley, Mad Men and Spunky Boys: What Caused the Civil War?; Jan. 22, Rusty Greaves, Ceremony, Religion, or Pro-Social Practice? All-Night Dance Events among Venezuelan Hunter Gatherers in a Challenging Environment; Jan. 29, Matt Martinez (Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo), Geographies of the Sacred. $20 at the door or $75 for series of four lectures. Jan. 8 and 15: 6:00 p.m., Hotel Santa Fe. Jan. 22 and 29: 6:00 p.m., Santa Fe Women’s Club Auditorium, 1616 Old Pecos Trail. Southwest Seminars | Learn more »
REMINDER: Jan. 9 In-Person (Tucson AZ) and Online Event: Indigenous Agriculture: Planting for Survival
With Michael Kotutwa Johnson. 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) »
Jan. 10 In-Person Event (Queen Creek AZ): This Native American Tribe Is Taking Back Its Water
With M. Kyle Woodson. Dr. Woodson is Director of the Gila River Indian Community’s Cultural Resource Management Program in Sacaton, Arizona. His research focuses on southern Arizona and includes Hohokam canal irrigation agriculture, community organization, and ceramic production and technology as well as Ancestral Pueblo migrations and other topics. San Tan Historical Society Museum, 20425 S. Old Ellsworth Rd. (at intersection of Queen Creek Rd. and Ellsworth Loop Rd.), 6:30 p.m. Free. For more information, contact Marie Britton at 480-390-3491 or email@example.com. San Tan Chapter, Arizona Archaeological Society
Jan. 10 In-Person Event (Cave Creek AZ): Scarlet Macaws in Southern Arizona—Like the Other Macaws but Different
With Christopher W. Schwartz. In this presentation, Christopher will discuss new DNA, isotope, and radiocarbon data from southern and central Arizona, along with isotopic data from Wupatki. These data we have to date are consistent with the conclusion that the macaws through time and across space in the Southwest virtually all were genetically closely related, ate corn, and were locally raised. Even so, past people used and interacted with the macaws differently in various parts of the Southwest, and very differently from people living hundreds of miles away in the scarlet macaw’s distant homeland of eastern and southern Mexico. Good Shepherd of the Hills Fellowship Hall, 6502 E. Cave Creek Rd., 7:30–8:30 p.m.; refreshment and socialization beginning at 7:00 p.m. Free. For more information contact Mary Kearney at firstname.lastname@example.org. Desert Foothills Chapter, Arizona Archaeological Society
REMINDER: Jan. 13 Online Event: Rediscovering the Fremont through Data-Driven Examination of Rock Imagery
With Elizabeth Hora. Over 1,000 years ago the Fremont lived in the Uinta Basin where they farmed, foraged, made villages, and—central to this talk—created some of the most incredible and intriguing rock imagery the world has ever seen. The rock imagery centers on depictions of human forms with gorgeous jewelry, intricate clothing and body paint, and holding implements of war and agricultural prosperity. Could these clues help us understand Fremont society? American Rock Art Research Association (ARARA) | Learn more and register (free) »
Jan. 18 Online Event: The Perils of Dyhydrogen Monoxide—Challenging Myths about Two 1880 Engagements in the Apache Wars
With historian Robert N. Watt, PhD. This presentation seeks to challenge several myths concerning events surrounding the two engagements between the US Army Ninth Cavalry and Apaches led by Victorio in southern New Mexico’s Hembrillo Canyon and Basin between April 5 and 7, 1880. The historic record gave a clear account of the drinking of tainted water and overnight siege of Captain Henry Carroll’s two companies of Ninth Cavalry on April 6-7, 1880, in Hembrillo Basin. The historic record also revealed a detailed report left by Lieutenant John Conline of a skirmish between Company A, Ninth Cavalry, and Victorio’s warriors on April 5, 1880. Third Thursday Food for Thought series (Old Pueblo Archaeology 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!