In 2001, I began my Preservation Fellowship to investigate how an array of stakeholders uses, values, and interprets the archaeological landscape in Arizona’s San Pedro valley. Bridging the disciplines of ethnology, archaeology, and ethnohistory, my research sought to understand the place of history—both as it physically endures as a living topography, and as different communities socially constitute it. Upon completion of the fellowship, I received my Ph.D. from Indiana University’s Department of Anthropology in 2004.
Hundreds of cultural sites are etched onto the landscape of the San Pedro valley. The persistence of these places connects us to millennia of human history. As with many other geographies where archaeological sites are abundant, numerous interest groups, or “stakeholders,” are invested in these fragile sites. Native Americans, local residents, ranchers, “new agers,” environmentalists, developers, tourists, archaeologists, and still others all have different cultural values, land use practices, and interpretations of the past.
Recognizing and understanding these differences helps Archaeology Southwest ensure that heritage sites are part of a living cultural landscape, and informs Archaeology Southwest’s work with a diverse range of communities. Such an approach helps Archaeology Southwest acknowledge how the past comes to have such powerful meanings for people today, and why it is worth safeguarding for future generations.
—Chip Colwell, Denver Museum of Nature and Science and former Archaeology Southwest Preservation Fellow
Results of Work:
Dreams at the Edge of the World and Other Evocations of O’odham History
Virtue Ethics and the Practice of History: Native Americans and Archaeologists along the San Pedro Valley of Arizona
Mapping History: Cartography and the Construction of the San Pedro Valley
Those Obscure Objects of Desire: Collecting Cultures and the Archaeological Landscape in the San Pedro Valley of Arizona
Signs in Place: Native American Perspectives of the Past in the San Pedro Valley of Southeastern Arizona (2003), Kiva 69(1): 5–29.