Remembering Stuart McKee Struever

Stuart McKee Struever, born on August 4, 1931, in Peru, Illinois, passed away on October 18, 2022, in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Two of Stuart’s lifelong interests, archaeology and upland game-bird hunting, started at an early age. As a young boy, Stuart hunted and conducted archaeological surveys in the farm fields near his home, mapping and recording archaeological sites. He had no archaeological training until he attended Dartmouth College, where he graduated in 1953. The following year Stuart started graduate studies at Harvard University, but he was drafted to serve two years in the army where his hunting experience allowed him to become a marksmanship trainer preparing infantry troops for the escalating Cold War.

Stuart didn’t immediately return to graduate school after his military service. Instead, he formed his first nonprofit organization, Archaeological Research Inc., through which he raised money and recruited volunteers to support his excavations, mostly at Woodland-period sites in Illinois. Stuart completed his M.A. in 1960 at Northwestern University and his Ph.D. in 1968 at the University of Chicago, with Lewis Binford as his advisor.

Stuart was strongly influenced by Binford, who was pioneering a major shift in the intellectual paradigm in archaeology, which came to be known as “the New Archaeology.” Stuart was a major contributor to this conceptual shift, and three areas of innovation distinguish Stuart’s career: establishing the importance of multidisciplinary cultural-ecological research, anchored in the natural sciences; conceptualizing the importance of sustaining long-term research programs on a regional scale; and the importance of building independent archaeological research centers with sufficient sustained funding to put this type of research program into practice. Soon after completing his doctorate, Stuart took a faculty position at Northwestern University, in large part because he was assured that he would be able to develop just such a program.

In 1968, Stuart’s nonprofit, then renamed the Foundation for Illinois Archaeology (FIA), purchased the old hardware store in downtown Kampsville, Illinois. From there he began to build the organization and the research program he had envisioned. The Kampsville staff conducted archaeological survey and excavation projects, funded primarily with high school and college field schools, while Stuart spent most of his time giving public lectures and fundraising. By 1981, FIA owned 39 buildings in Kampsville that housed dedicated labs for zoology, botany, palynology, malacology, geomorphology, human osteology, artifact analysis, flotation, and data processing.

In 1982, Stuart expanded the program by merging with and acquiring the campus of another nonprofit near Cortez, Colorado. FIA became the Center for American Archaeology (CAA) to reflect this expansion. The merger dissolved in 1986, and Stuart recruited his boyhood friend and then successful Denver businessman, Ray Duncan, to chair a new board for the organization that became the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (CCAC). Ray agreed to chair and build a new board, on the condition that Stuart leave his positions at Northwestern and CAA to devote his full attention to raising the money to build the facilities, staff, and programs at Crow Canyon, which he did.

Stuart and Ray served together as president and board chair from 1986 to 1993, when they both retired. Stuart remained on the CCAC board after retirement, and in 1999 he was recruited to help with a comprehensive campaign that raised $16 million in five years. After his retirement from CCAC, Stuart devoted his time to helping his wife Martha “Marti” Hopkins Struever run her successful American Indian art business in Santa Fe.

Stuart served as president of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) from 1974 to 1976 and later received two of SAA’s most prestigious awards, the Distinguished Service Award, and the SAA President’s Award. Stuart’s legacy in archaeology lives on, as he is survived by two very successful, nonprofit research and education centers—CAA and CCAC. The two organizations he founded continue to achieve their missions based on Stuart’s original vision and beyond what he could have imagined.

Gifts in memory of Stuart are welcome and may be directed to the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center Annual Fund or the Stuart Struever Chair in Research. He was after all the consummate fundraiser and institution builder.

Ricky R. Lightfoot,

Chair of the Crow Canyon Board of Trustees

Donate on or before December 8 for Colorado Gives Day!

Crow Canyon is excited to participate in this year’s Colorado Gives Day, which will take place on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.

Colorado Gives Day is a statewide movement that unites Coloradans in a common goal to strengthen the state’s nonprofits by giving to their favorite charities online. Here at Crow Canyon we are touched by the generosity of our supporters from around the country daily, but Colorado Gives Day gives us a chance to feel the support from around our state.

If you’d like to participate in Colorado Gives Day, you can schedule your donation any time!

This year, our scholars and staff submitted some short videos to tell Coloradans a little more about the mission and vision of Crow Canyon and how the pandemic has affected our operations. We invite you to check out these short submissions from Supervisory Archaeologist Kellam Throgmorton, Education Manager Tyson Hughes, and Chief Outreach Officer Sarah Payne. You might learn something you didn’t know about them or about Crow Canyon!

Whether you live in Colorado or not, we encourage you to participate in the online giving campaign that will help us make our research accessible to even more students, scholars, and lifelong learners.

As always, we thank you and we’re grateful for your support!

Supervisory Archaeologist Kellam Throgmorton

Summer 2023 newsletter special 40th Anniversary issue

In the Summer 2023 newsletter special 40th Anniversary issue:

Let’s Celebrate!

Get all the details about the 40th Anniversary Conference and Celebration in October – learn about speakers and activities planned and how to register

Exciting Experiences Abound!

Read about the many activities happening on Crow Canyon’s campus and in the field, and the people involved

Upcoming Programs and Activities

Check out what’s coming up, learn more, and register

Trustee and Traveler Leslie Cohen

Read a tribute to our friend and partner Leslie Cohen and her incredible impact on Crow Canyon

Read the full newsletter here!

Join us to celebrate 40 years of partnership, collaboration, and support!

This year, we’re celebrating 40 years of Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Since 1983, Crow Canyon has maintained a commitment to long-term archaeological research, including excavation, survey, and environmental studies, to address problem-oriented regional and inter-regional research. Today, we’re widely known as a leader in archaeological research and education and are recognized as an innovator for our involvement with American Indians in our research and education program development and for our partnerships with American Indian communities on mutually beneficial projects.

To commemorate, we’re inviting our colleagues, peers, supporters, and more to join us for a 40th Anniversary Conference and Celebration! This October, join us in Cortez to celebrate this milestone.

Crow Canyon’s 40th Anniversary Conference and Celebration

When: October 11–15, 2023

Where: Cortez, CO on the Crow Canyon campus

Featuring Joy Harjo, Muscogee Nation, Poet Laureate (2019–2022)

For more information, visit our registration page which includes detailed information about the conference, field trip offerings, and lodging.

The conference kicks off with a selection of four optional morning and afternoon field trips on Thursday, October 12. Capacity is limited and advance registration is required. Field trip destinations include Mesa Verde National Park’s curation room, Hawkins Preserve, the Ute Mountain Ute Farm and Ranch, and Yellow Jacket Pueblo.

Joy Harjo, 23rd Poet Laureate of the United States, opens the conference on Thursday evening. Friday and Saturday offer a range of panel discussions, lectures, guided walks, and demonstrations. Delicious food, entertainment, and keynote addresses complete each day. It’s an event you won’t want to miss!

Thank you for being part of our history. We look forward to seeing you on the Crow Canyon campus in October!

Sharing 40 years of collaborative research at Society for American Archaeology event

Twined sandals, human-turkey relationships, corrugated whiteware ceramics, fish bone analysis, and maize farming are just a few of the more than 15 professional papers and posters that Crow Canyon associates presented at the 88th Annual Society for American Archaeology (SAA) meeting in Portland, OR. This is the premier U.S. event for sharing archaeological research and best practices and Crow Canyon’s team will be showcasing highlighted projects from our 40 years of collaborative research, education, and American Indian partnerships.

Crow Canyon collaborators on conference deliverables include: Dr. Susan Ryan, Dr. Liz Perry, Dr. Mark Varien, Dr. Ben Bellorado, Dr. Jonathan Dombrosky, Dr. Kellam Throgmorton, Grant Coffey, Paul Ermigiotti, Tyson Hughes, Dr. Elaine Franklin, Dr. Joseph Suina, Kristin Kuckelman, Richard Wilshusen, Julia Coverdale, Eric Gilmore, Dr. Donna Glowacki, and Jeffrey Jones.

A wide range of fascinating topics are being presented by Crow Canyon representatives including:

– Fashions and Fabrications of the Fanciest Footwear: Two Millennia of Stability and Change in Twined Sandal Use in the U.S. Southwest

– Pathways to the Archaeology of Footwear

– Revisiting the Depopulation of the Northern Southwest with Dendrochronology: A Changing Perspective with New Dates from Cedar Mesa

– Hydrogen and Oxygen (δ2H and δ18O) Isotopes and the Study of Human-Turkey Relationships in the Northern US Southwest

– Ancestral Pueblo Fishing Associated with Mixed Foraging Goals and Environmental Stability in the Middle Rio Grande of New Mexico

– Welcome to the Machine: New Techniques in Predictive Modeling for Improving Data Quality in Zooarchaeology

– The Pueblo Farming Project: Research, Education, and Native American Collaboration

– Forty Years of Sustained Community Center Research in the Central Mesa Verde Region

– Community Organization on the Edge of the Mesa Verde Region: Recent Investigations at Cowboy Wash Pueblo, Moqui Springs Pueblo, and Yucca House

– Educational Programming and the Perceived Benefits of Participation at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

– Changes in the Temporality of the Landscape during the Chacoan Period in the American Southwest

– Bridging the Long Tenth Century: From Villages to Great Houses in the Central Mesa Verde Region

– What’s the Deal with Corrugated Whitewares? An Analysis of the Corrugated Whitewares from the Haynie Site

– Conceptualizing the Past: The Thoughtful Engagement of Hearts and Minds

– Thirteenth-Century Villages and the Depopulation of the Northern San Juan Region by Pueblo Peoples

Thank you to all our friends for attending these sessions! We loved reconnecting with all of you and sharing ideas about about the future.

A deeper dive into each of the above-mentioned topics will also be included in a special Crow Canyon 40th Anniversary Volume, a publication that celebrates Crow Canyon’s past, present, and future by providing a backdrop to its humble beginnings and highlighting key mission accomplishments since 1983. Stay tuned for details about the volume, expected to be published and available in May 2023. Many of these topics will also be shared at Crow Canyon’s 40th anniversary conference in October.

Travel costs for staff to attend important industry events like this are funded by the William D. Lipe Advances in Research endowment fund. As a non-profit organization, we are grateful for generous donors who make our work possible. Click here to learn more about supporting Crow Canyon.

SAA poster image courtesy of Jonathan Dombrosky

Alternate Approaches to Archaeology: Lessons from the 18th Southwest Symposium

Last month, Crow Canyon staff attended the 18th Southwest Symposium in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Presenters were tasked with featuring alternate approaches to interpreting the archaeological record of the American Southwest and Northern Mexico at multiple scales.

Dr. Ben Bellorado and renowned Pueblo weavers Christopher P. Lewis and Louie Garcia were invited to present on Ancestral Pueblo sandal weaving traditions. This collaborative project develops multivocal interpretations of Ancestral Pueblo sandal weaving traditions by combining the perspectives of two expert Pueblo weavers and an archaeologist who specializes in ancient clothing practices in the US Southwest. The alternate approaches to interpreting the archaeological record highlighted the following attributes:

-Rarely recovered and understudied perishable Ancestral Pueblo sandal traditions, and

-To bring expert weavers from descendant communities into museum settings to work with archaeologists and museum professionals to understand their ancestors’ footwear.

Here is the full title and abstract of the presentation:

Sandal Biographies and Social Identities: Collaborative Approaches to the Study of Ancestral Pueblo Sandal Traditions in the Northern US Southwest

By Benjamin A. Bellorado, Laboratory Director, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center; Christopher J. Lewis, Fiber Artist and Cultural Scholar, Pueblo of Zuni; and Louie Garcia, Fiber Artist and Cultural Scholar, Tiwa and Piro


Footwear provides one of the most intimate mechanisms through which humans interact with the world. Every aspect of the technological and stylistic make-up of footwear provides insights about the identities of their weavers, their wearers, and the value of these garments in the societies where they functioned. Drawing on the perspectives of Zuni and Tiwa/Piro weavers and a clothing archaeologist, we investigate identity expression and object biographies in Ancestral Pueblo sandal weaving traditions at multiple scales. Through collaborative collections research, we demonstrate methods that Indigenous artisans and archaeologists can use to develop new understandings of the past, present, and future.


And, if you’d like to learn more, Pushing Boundaries in Southwestern Archaeology is a new publication that features conference themes from the 16th biennial Southwest Symposium and a chapter by Dr. Ben Bellorado!

Dr. Bellorado’s contribution to the volume, chapter 8, is titled “Pushing the Boundaries of Clothing Research: A Preliminary Look at Twined Sandals in Relation to Social Identities in the Chaco and Post-Chaco Eras.” Bellorado focuses on understanding the role of Ancestral Pueblo sandals in expressions of social identities, group affiliations, and prestige displays, or how people used footwear to tell others who they were and where they came from. One example of this effort is dating the development and spread of jogged toed sandals, an iconic attribute of Chaco and Mesa Verde identities across the Colorado Plateau.

Ben and his late colleague and friend Saul Hedquist organized one of the volume sessions on collections-based research. “The papers in the session focused on the incredible potential that museum legacy collections have for advancing southwestern archaeology, using materials that have already been excavated but rarely, or never, studied,” says Dr. Bellorado.

A note from the editor:

“Bellorado dives deep into the analysis of exquisitely preserved ancient footwear to demonstrate how people used clothing to signal aspects of social identity, group identity, and political organization in the Chaco and post-Chacoan worlds. In so doing, he demonstrates how truly remarkable the Southwest is from a preservation perspective. There are few places in the world in which one could pursue such research.”


This August, Christopher Lewis, Ben Bellorado alongside Austin Choochyamptewa will lead a week-long Pueblo Belt Weaving Workshop. Create your own Pueblo-style weaving under the guidance of our textile experts. Along the way, examine textiles as reflections of human identity and explore the cultural and archaeological contexts. Registration is open, so sign up online today!