On Friday, January 19, my fifth day with this wonderful organization, I had the privilege of attending the Four Southern Tribes Cultural Resources Working Group in Ak Chin, Arizona, near Maricopa, southwest of Phoenix. (The Four Southern Tribes include the Ak-Chin Indian Community, Gila River Indian Community, Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community, and Tohono O’odham Nation, all of whom are important collaborative partners with Archaeology Southwest.)
I traveled to the meeting with Preservation Anthropologist Aaron Wright and Director of Tribal Collaboration in Outreach & Advocacy Skylar Begay and thoroughly enjoyed learning from them during the drive. Each of us enjoyed time in the meeting agenda that morning. Aaron provided his insights into possible collaborative research at Arizona State University’s Deer Valley Petroglyph Preserve. Sky provided informative updates on the ongoing effort to create the Great Bend of the Gila National Monument. All I had to do was introduce myself, say a few words about how I got to Archaeology Southwest, sit back, relax, and continue listening.
Mother Nature, however, had alternate plans—in a good way.
Near the end of my presentation, someone’s cell phone rang. A woman answered it, and a curious look of interested concern—but not worry or panic—crossed her face. She discreetly ended the call, put the phone down, and politely raised her hand. I turned to her, and she said, “That was Barnaby Lewis.” (He’s the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the Gila River Indian Community). “We need to go outside. There’s a Sun Dog!” Metal chairs flew back in a racket and two dozen people rushed out to the parking lot, much faster than I would have predicted. We squinted as we turned to look at the sun.
And there it was.
A Sun Dog is an optical phenomenon involving the sun and a temporary ring of light forming around it. Sometimes, Sun Dogs bear a cross through the middle of the circle, as did this one. They’re not colorful, but they are bright and really impressive. I don’t remember seeing one before—they’re much rarer than rainbows—but there we were. We stood there for about 20 minutes, taking pictures on cell phones and reveling in our good fortune, because Sun Dogs are harbingers of rain. (And they did bring rains! I’m here in Tucson with just my bicycle and it has been raining for days.) As I turned to go back into the meeting, I heard Barnaby, now on speakerphone, exclaim, “It’s a good omen!”
Good public speakers know when to quit, and I knew there was no better way to end my metaphorical moment in the sun than to celebrate that actual moment in the sun, so I said “thank you” and quickly returned to my seat. As I pondered this crazy turn of events, I thought to myself, “I’m the new leader of a great organization, and Mother Nature just gave us a good omen.”
What a way to end my first week as President and CEO of Archaeology Southwest! It doesn’t get better than that.
Until next week,
Stephen E. Nash
President & CEO, Archaeology Southwest
Tribes and Conservation Organizations Sue USBLM over SunZia Route
Two Native American tribes in Arizona are suing the U.S. government over the construction of a wind-energy transmission line through the San Pedro Valley east of Tucson. The Tohono O’odham Nation and the San Carlos Apache Tribe are calling for construction work to stop on the SunZia Southwest Transmission Project until the Bureau of Land Management completes a “legally adequate inventory of historic properties and cultural resources that would be impacted by the project.” The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in Arizona federal court, claims the 550-mile-long powerline project will cause “serious, irreversible adverse effects on tribal cultural sites and sacred areas, including areas with human remains.” Henry Brean for the Arizona Daily Star | Read more »
A federal judge is being asked to issue a stop-work order on a $10 billion transmission line being built through a remote southeastern Arizona valley to carry wind-generated electricity to customers as far away as California. A 32-page lawsuit filed on Jan. 17 in U.S. District Court in Tucson, Arizona, accuses the U.S. Interior Department and Bureau of Land Management of refusing for nearly 15 years to recognize “overwhelming evidence of the cultural significance” of the remote San Pedro Valley to Native American tribes including the Tohono O’odham, Hopi, Zuni and San Carlos Apache Tribe. Susan Montoya Bryan and Ken Ritter for the Associated Press | Read more »
Read Archaeology Southwest’s news release here »
In Memoriam: Bernard Siquieros
Bernard’s contribution to the work of the Tucson Meet Yourself Folklife Festival and Southwest Folklife Alliance was immeasurable. Drawing on his expertise as the Education Curator for the Tohono O’odham Cultural Center and Museum Himdag Ki: Hekǐhu, Hemu, Im B I-Ha’apu, Bernard curated the Tucson Meet Yourself Tohono O’odham Pavilion for over 20 years, inviting Tohono O’odham artists to share their artistic expression and cultural knowledge with the public. The gatherings in this pavilion showcased the intricate handiwork of O’odham artists, illuminated community traditions shared from one generation to the next, and served as an annual reunion for Indigenous artists.
In 2016, Bernard helped the Southwest Folklife Alliance organize a six-week residency in utilitarian pottery, led by artist Reuben Naranjo, that later inspired the first gathering of Tohono O’odham and Salt River Pima Maricopa potters at the Tohono O’odham Nation Cultural Center. The residency and event spearheaded a revitalization of utilitarian pottery among these tribes. His dedication to cultural knowledge preservation included an extensive body of research and program design, and he was a respected advisor within Indigenous and non-Indigenous communities on Tohono O’odham lifeways.
A passionate documentarian, Bernard was often found behind the lens of his camera, capturing significant cultural expressions and events within the community. He was an incredibly generous leader, deeply committed to higher education and the preservation of Tohono O’odham language and culture. A graduate of the University of Arizona, Bernard bridged relationships between tribal members and institutions to foster intergenerational learning and public demonstrations of Tohono O’odham cultural knowledge. …
An exhibit of Bernard’s photography is on display at the Amerind Foundation Museum through Oct. 31, 2024.
In this video, produced for Tucson Meet Yourself in 2020, Bernard Siquieros facilitates a beautiful conversation between potters Reuben Naranjo and Kathleen Vance on O’odham pottery. His knowledge and care shine on. Southwest Folklife Alliance and Tucson Meet Yourself e-newsletter | Watch the video now »
Bernard and others about Tumamoc Hill in Tucson (opens at YouTube) »
Bernard on Sonoran foods (opens at YouTube) »
Continuing Coverage: National Monument Restorations in the Courts
As the Tenth Circuit considers Utah’s challenge to President Joe Biden’s re-establishment of Bears Ears and Grand Staircase-Escalante national monuments, judicial review is likely to be the biggest question before the appeals court, attorneys say. The state and two Utah counties want the US Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit to halt presidential use of the Antiquities Act to create vast national monuments—a legal question aimed at the US Supreme Court. But the appeals court in Garfield County v. Biden is expected to sidestep that question. Bobby Magill for Bloomberg Law | Read more »
World Monuments Fund Grants Aid to Bears Ears
The WMF also announced aid to Bears Ears National Monument, a possibly controversial political move in the United States. The land was designated a national monument, along with Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument, by President Barack Obama to the chagrin of conservatives who argued against it because of the economic benefits of land use for mining, drilling, and grazing. President Donald Trump later significantly reduced the size of the monument, leading to continuing legal challenges. “The area comprising Bears National Monument has long been the sacred land of several Tribes in the area,” the nonprofit said in its news release. “WMF is supporting efforts led by Indigenous communities and public lands managers to improve site management and enhance the visitor experience with lessons about respectful visitation and the significance of this rich living landscape.” Adam Schrader for Artnet | Read more »
Seeking Bears Ears Visit-with-Respect Ambassadors
If hiking and the outdoors sounds like a great combination for volunteering, then join us for a one-day training session. You’ll have the opportunity to learn and practice the skills needed to be one of our on-the-ground Visit with Respect Ambassadors. As an ambassador, you’ll serve as a friendly presence at the most frequently visited trails in the Bears Ears region, enjoying stunning scenery while you share pointers with visitors on how to visit this sensitive landscape with respect. Help us continue conservation efforts to keep these sites protected for generations to come! To learn more, contact VWR Program Director, Semira Crank (email@example.com, 435-414-0343 ext. 711). Bears Ears Partnership | Learn more »
Continuing Coverage: Looting near St. George UT
A Bountiful man has been charged with digging a trench 2 feet wide and 15 feet deep through a “one-of-a-kind” archeological site while hunting for treasure in Washington County. The Washington County Sheriff’s Office received a tip on Nov. 7, 2023, about someone disturbing archaeologically significant protected land in the Fort Pearce Wash area, 12 miles southeast of St. George. Eduardo Humberto Seoane, 51, was observed digging at the site on Nov. 29, 2023, and admitted digging the hole during an interview with law enforcement on Dec. 14, according to a probable cause statement. Seoane faces a second-degree felony charge of conducting illegal activity on trust lands where the damage was equal to or greater than $5,000, filed by the Washington County Attorney’s Office on Tuesday. Seoane is now waiting for a date to be established for his initial appearance in Utah’s 5th District Court. Sky Mundell for KSL | Read more »
Life History of a Woolly Mammoth
The female woolly mammoth was 20 years old when she stumbled amid the grasslands. She fell into a cloud of dust, then gasped her last breath of cool air. It was a late-summer day, 14,000 years ago. Over her lifetime, this creature had wandered from Canada’s Yukon Territory into Alaska, where she died at what should have been the peak of her life. Members of the Healy Lake Village Council—upon whose lands the mammoth fell—have named her “Élmayųujey’eh.” A group of scientists, led by several at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, have reconstructed the life of that mammoth. Ned Rozell for Alaska Science and the Anchorage Daily News | Read more »
Call for Nominations: Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society
The Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society welcomes nominations for three annual awards. Nomination letters, and Curriculum Vitae (if appropriate), should be emailed to Edward Jolie (firstname.lastname@example.org) no later than May 1, 2024. Awardees will be selected by the Awards Committee and approved by the AAHS Board of Directors. Awards will be presented at the Pecos Conference in August. The Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society sponsors four awards annually, to recognize the hard work and contributions of persons to cultural knowledge, for leadership or bringing anthropology, history or a related discipline to the public and for tireless work behind-the-scenes that has often gone unrecognized. Also, AAHS presents appreciation awards to recognize those who have volunteered their services or have made other contributions on behalf of the Society and its programs. AAHS | Learn more »
January Subscription Lectures (Santa Fe NM)
Jan. 29, Matt Martinez (Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo), Geographies of the Sacred. $20 at the door, 6:00 p.m., Santa Fe Women’s Club Auditorium, 1616 Old Pecos Trail. Southwest Seminars | Learn more »
TODAY, Jan. 24 Online Event: Cultural Resource Management: What Most Archaeologists Do for a Living
With Jeff Altschul. Today, there are about 12,000 archaeologists working in the US with less than 10 percent of them employed by universities. While university anthropology and archaeology departments are shrinking, the applied sector, known as cultural resource management (CRM) is growing. What accounts for these opposing trends and what, if anything, can we do about it? This presentation will be given at 8 p.m. Eastern/7 p.m. Central/6 p.m. Mountain/5 p.m. Pacific. Archaeological Institute of America | Register now (free) »
Jan. 27 Online Event: Warren Ballpark
With Mike Anderson. If there is a place where the ghosts of baseball players come at night to relive their glory days, it is Warren Ballpark in the old copper-mining town of Bisbee, Arizona. Warren Ballpark has been in use as a sports facility since 1909—longer than any other ballpark in the United States. Some of the most colorful and notable figures in baseball history have stepped onto its field as barnstorming big leaguers or as minor-league players hoping to make their way up to the “Big Show.” Several players implicated in the infamous 1919 “Black Sox” scandal played in an “outlaw” league at Warren Ballpark during the 1920s. In 1917, it was the holding facility for 1,500 striking copper miners rounded up during the Bisbee Deportation. It is also the site of one of the longest-running and most bitterly contested high school football rivalries in America, between the Bisbee Pumas and the Douglas Bulldogs. Cochise County and the Arizona Historical Society | Register now (free) »
REMINDER: Feb. 3 In-Person Class: How Did People Haft a Knife?
With Allen Denoyer. Explore the history of hafted stone knives inspired by Southwest traditions. Use pitch, sinew, and cordage to haft your knife. All materials provided, including an obsidian blade and saguaro root handle. Experience a live demonstration of making a pitch-resin adhesive. Shape the handle with stone tools and learn to saw the notch for blade insertion. Wear long pants and bring gloves for carving. Beginners are welcome! Open to individuals 12 years and older. $50 fee. Hands-On Archaeology (Archaeology Southwest) | Learn more »
Feb. 6 In-Person (Tucson AZ) and Online Event: Archaeologies of Foodways and Cuisine
With Sarah Oas. This talk highlights the importance of food to our minds, bodies, and societies, and explores what archaeological approaches that center foodways and cuisine bring to the table in understanding life in the past. Drawing on several archaeological case studies from the Zuni/Cibola Region, this presentation will explore how the archaeology of kitchens, meals, and staple ingredients can expand our understanding of the importance of foods and foodways both in daily life and in processes of social change. Archaeology Café (Archaeology Southwest) | Learn more »
Feb. 8 Online Event: Why Corrugated Cooking Pots?
With Chris Pierce. During the 1990s while working at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and as part of my PhD research, Dr. Pierce performed extensive literature review, detailed technological analyses, and controlled experiments to further the understanding of the adoption of corrugated cooking pots. Dr. Pierce’s work identified the technological changes involved in the development of corrugation, documented the spread of these technologies across the northern Southwest, and demonstrated cost and performance differences between plain and corrugated vessels. In this presentation, Chris reviews the results of his earlier work, presents four new possible explanations for the adoption and eventual rejection of corrugated cooking pots, and evaluates evidence to test one of these hypotheses. Crow Canyon Archaeological Center | Learn more and register (free) »
Feb. 15 In-Person Event (Tucson AZ): Estevan de Dorantes, Estev(b)anico: The First Moroccan and African Explorer [of what is now AZ and NM]
With Hsain Ilahiane. Dr. Ilahiane will discuss one of the most fascinating, and least understood, men in the history of the American Southwest: the Moroccan “slave” known as Estevan de Dorantes in sixteenth-century Spanish accounts of New Spain. … Despite Estevan’s role in Spain’s age of exploration and imperialism in the Americas, historical accounts are silent about him except to note that he was a slave who accompanied Fray Marcos De Niza on his travels through the American Southwest. In his presentation, Dr. Ilahiane provides a re-reading of Spanish accounts of New Spain and Medieval Moroccan historical documents to better understand Estevan’s status and the circumstances that led him to join the Spaniards in their expedition to the Americas in the sixteenth century, and why he still remains a mere footnote in history. 3:30 p.m., Kiva Room, Student Union Memorial Center, University of Arizona. Southwest Center (University of Arizona) | Learn more »
March 22 In-Person Event and Tour (Tucson and Bisbee Vicinity AZ)
With Rebecca Orozco and R. Brooks Jeffery. The 2024 Bazy Tankersley Southwest Laureate Lecture includes a Friday evening lecture followed by a Saturday site tour of Camp Naco. The Friday lecture will be preceded by a short memorial to honor the life and career of J.C. Mutchler (1961–2023), Associate Research Historian, Southwest Center, University of Arizona. Located in the Cochise County border community of Naco AZ, Camp Naco is a cornerstone of Buffalo Soldier history in Arizona but also represents the multi-layered histories of border protection, mining and railroads, Spanish exploration, as well as the history of indigenous peoples who occupied this region for millennia. Beginning in 2000, community advocates—including Mutchler—began efforts to preserve Camp Naco’s 100+ year-old adobe buildings and 17-acre site when it was under threat of outright demolition. Southwest Center (University of Arizona) | Learn more »
Video Channel Roundup
Time to get caught up with recent videos and webinars (and there have been a lot—check these links out!) at the YouTube channels of our Partners and Friends. (And please do let us know if your channel isn’t in this list but should be.)
Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society
Arizona State Museum
Bears Ears Partnership
Cotsen Institute of Archaeology at UCLA
Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
Grand Canyon Trust
Grand Staircase Escalante Partners
Mesa Prieta Petroglyphs Project
Mission Garden (Friends of Tucson’s Birthplace)
Museum of Indian Arts and Cultures
Museum of Northern Arizona
Old Pueblo Archaeology Center
San Diego Archaeological Center
School for Advanced Research
The Archaeological Conservancy
Verde Valley Archaeology Center
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!