Summary of Crow Canyon’s 2022 Annual Meeting

Crow Canyon’s Annual Meeting was live-streamed on Zoom and FacebookLive on Saturday, October 15, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. MDT. Click here to view the full recording on Crow Canyon’s YouTube channel.

Chairman Manuel Heart from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe opened our meeting with a blessing to center our hearts and minds around a successful event and an extended prayer for our families, neighbors, communities, elders, and all creations.

The Annual Meeting began with a moment of gratitude from Liz Perry, Crow Canyon’s President and CEO, to Crow Canyon’s staff, Indigenous leaders and partners, Board of Trustees, and supporters who make our work possible to create change in the world. It is with the support of Crow Canyon’s community that breathes life to our efforts in creating impactful, relevant, mutually beneficial opportunities for our wide community of learners.

2023 marks Crow Canyon’s 40th anniversary. Goals for next year include the celebration of our research and education milestones, and honoring the role our Indigenous partners and collaborators have made, and showing appreciation to our wide community of learners. We will host a staff appreciation event in the spring, collect memories through a survey to help celebrate Crow Canyon’s impact on the world, and host a public conference that celebrates the 40th anniversary milestone, October 11–15, 2023. The conference features Joy Harjo, Muscogee Nation, Poet Laureate (2019–2022), educational panel discussions, experiential activities and demonstrations, as well as local field trips addressing contemporary issues facing Native communities, and more. We will take time for reflection on the changes in research and education, while evaluating activities to ensure that our work is relevant to present challenges, impactful to the world, and mutually beneficial for our Indigenous partners in the next 40 years.

Dr. Susan Ryan, Chief Mission Officer, highlighted two programs — the Summer Institute for teachers funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) College Field School funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

The goal of the NEH Summer Institute was to embark on a collaborative, multivocal, place-based investigation of human migrations and social complexity during the 12th century A.D. The inclusion of Indigenous tradition and Western scientific knowledges contributed to the development of original lesson plans that teachers, and subsequently their students, could apply to their classrooms on a topic that is relevant to societies across the globe. The NEH educators came from a variety of subjects, including science, history, humanities, and geography.

– Out of 76 applicants, 23 were selected to participate

– On average, educators had 13.4-years of teaching experience

– On average, the educators teach 161 students per year

– This was the first NEH program for 70% of the participants

– The Majority of educators teach high school, followed by middle school and elementary school

– Educators represented a variety of subjects, including science, history, humanities, and geography

The project team consisted of five Crow Canyon staff members, Susan Ryan, Jeremy Grundvig, Ben Bellorado, Tyson Hughes, Kellam Throgmorton, in addition to Josie Chang-Order, a former Crow Canyon staff member and current School Programs Manager for History Colorado in Denver.

One of the most impactful aspects of the Summer Institute was the multivocal approach to understanding past and present cultures. Three prestigious scholars, including, Theresa Pasqual (Acoma), Lyle Balenquah (Hopi), and Rebecca Hammond (Ute Mountain Ute), provided traditional cultural knowledge that vastly expanded our understanding of human migrations. While visiting ancestral community centers in the southern, middle, and northern San Juan region, participants discussed push-pull factors and the timing leading up to migration events, as well as the effects of coalescence and depopulation.

At Crow Canyon’s campus, participants engaged in STEM-related learning modules within the discipline of archaeology, including data collection in the laboratory and in the field relating to the Northern Chaco Outliers Project. Working in teams using an online distance learning platform, educators developed unique lesson plans based on Institute themes. In the process, educators exchanged pedagogy, methods, resources, and built relationships that support their professional growth for years to come. The lesson plans serve as valuable resources that include first-hand cultural narratives and have the potential to reach a broad community of learners throughout the school year. To further extend the impact, these lessons will be posted on the Crow Canyon website so that teachers across the world can have access to free, open-sourced, culturally appropriate, relevant, and impactful material to use in their classrooms.

“Offering experiential, place-based, multivocal lessons provide educators with authentic experiences and resources so they are better equipped to teach cultural competency, combat racism, and provide more well-rounded understandings of the past to help problem-solve issues facing societies today.” —Dr. Susan Ryan, Chief Mission Officer

“This is not my first NEH and this is definitely the best one I have gone to. This is a special place full of special people. I was impressed over and over again. The important thing is I’m now bursting with information and resources for my students.” —Timothy O.

“Hearing perspectives from Hopi and Ute representatives, archaeologists, and teachers helps me to better Understand and navigate ethical and social justice issues in my own work and life. Reflecting on the lectures and discussions we had at Crow Canyon make me feel more prepared and confident to use teaching techniques and subject matter that is culturally appropriate, scientifically accurate, up to date, and meets teachers’ needs and expectations.” —Anna A.

“My perspective on the concepts of movement and migration have also shifted. The understanding of large-scale migration as not a positive or negative but a crucial part of a peoples’ story and process of becoming what they are today has forced me to reflect on the value judgments I often subconsciously assign to events in the past.” —Meera M.

“This was a wonderful experience. Beyond all the learning I did, I also left with new materials and lesson plans I will use this year with my students. I also found this to be a healing space after two years of pandemic teaching and all its related tolls. I truly appreciated the inquiry-based approach used by all experts involved in the program.” —Nate R.

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) College Field School engaged 10 students from underrepresented communities over the course of seven weeks. These students are the next generation of professions, tribal historic preservation officers, educators, and community leaders! One of the most impactful aspects of the field school was the multivocal approach to understanding Indigenous cultures in the past and present. Four prestigious Native Scholars in Residence, Noah Collins, Mowana Lomaomvaya, Noah Kootswatewa, and Justin Lund, provided traditional cultural knowledge that vastly increased our understanding of Indigenous approaches to collaborative research, mutually beneficial projects, trust-building, and the co-creation of knowledge. Within the framework of the Northern Chaco Outliers Project, students, scholars, and staff worked together on STEM-based learning objectives, such as lab analysis, survey, and mapping, that are essential skills for future success in cultural resource management. Research themes included, human-environment relationships, social inequality, the role of community centers, and identity formation.

Student research has regional, national, and global impacts. By working together in teams, students produce original research that is presented in the form of a final project during field school, as well as presentations at conferences and colloquiums hosted by colleges and universities. Participation in the field school provides career development with authentic data collection, and preparing data for professional audiences. Students utilized inferences generated from past human behaviors to create a better understanding of the principles that govern culture change worldwide, and to address issues relevant to today’s societies, providing critical information to guide future policy-making.

Crow Canyon’s American Indian Initiatives (AII) Manager and Educator, Rebecca Hammond, provided an update on the summer’s AII Internships. Ritchie Sahneyha (Hopi) contributed to ongoing research as part of the Pueblo Farming Project, and conducted flotation studies and lab techniques, providing important training opportunities in understanding the archaeological processes. At the Haynie site, Ritchie focused on architectural stabilization techniques that can be implemented in future cultural preservation projects . By engaging in experiential, place-based education programs, Ritchie lent his personal knowledge and expertise that helped students connect with their observations and understanding of past and present cultures. By joining the Cultural Explorations team and cultural advisors from the Hopi mesas, Ritchie connected with local ancestral sites and landscapes, inspiring a deeper understanding of his own cultural history. “I leave here fully motivated to pursue my goals and fulfill my dream to work for my people and do something I enjoy.” —Ritchie Sahneyha

Emerson McDaniel (Mescalero Apache, Cherokee Nation, Wolf Clan) contributed to a Native-authored library. One of Emery’s favorite experiences was visiting the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park with Rebecca Hammond, the Cultural Explorations team, and cultural advisors from the Hopi mesas. Connecting with ancestral landscapes that are managed by tribal nations provided a lens into cultural resource management and stewardship. Emery’s work in compiling a library archive of Native-authored resources and generating an online list of Indigenous resources expanded their knowledge and awareness of opportunities for charitable giving, career development, and personal and professional growth.

Kellam reported on highlights from the Haynie site, which included the discovery of a large oversized kiva associated with the west great house. Over the course of the field season, and with assistance from College Field School students, NEH educators, REU college field students, and interns, the field crew gained a better understanding of structures beneath the surface. New to Crow Canyon’s programming this year was a survey at Hawkins Preserve. In partnership with the Cortez Cultural Center, participants in the Archaeology Research Program embarked on a non-invasive method of conducting archaeology in a public landscape. Within the discipline of archaeology, there are a variety of methods we use to understand the past, such as excavation, survey, and lab. Survey teaches us a lot about surface deposits and temporal relationships and by working with our Indigenous partners we can better understand the connections to landscape and engage in discussions about social identity, colonial impacts, culture change, resource management, stewardship, protection, and education.

Ricky Lightfoot, former president and current Chairman on the Board of Trustees summarized Crow Canyon’s financial portfolio. Ricky shared the 2021 audited financials demonstrating a strong financial position. Our projections for the end of 2022 are expected to meet our fundraising goals and operating needs. Crow Canyon is currently supported by 43% in charitable gifts, 35% in investment distributions, 14% in grants, and 8% in program revenue. Crow Canyon’s robust investment strategy and algorithms helps smooth out the ups and downs in the market and sustain our operations over the long term.

Ricky presented a tribute to Mark Varien, Executive Vice President of the Research Institute, who is retiring at the end of the year after 35-years of service. Mark began working at Crow Canyon in 1987. Mark’s contributions to research and education projects throughout the decades helped advance our knowledge and understanding of human-environment relationships, community development, social impacts, and residential mobility through time. Mark’s approach to interdisciplinary, multivocal projects advanced our ability to address big questions with large, complex datasets.

Click here to view the full meeting on Crow Canyon’s YouTube channel.

2022 Fall Newsletter

Check out Crow Canyon’s latest newsletter containing featured stories, including the following:

– Join us online for Crow Canyon’s upcoming Annual Meeting, Saturday, October 15, 2022

– Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and The Archaeological Conservancy are recipients of History Colorado’s 2022 Stephen H. Hart People’s Choice Award for Historic Preservation for their collaborative work to preserve the Haynie site

– Find out how teachers in this year’s NEH Summer Institute explored multivocal interpretations of history that influence the understanding of human migrations and how it is presented in today’s classrooms

– Get the status on the Mobile Learning Lab initiative and learn how you can help

– This summer College Field School students and Scholars-in-Residence worked together in an exploration of archaeology and Indigenous cultural knowledge

– Discover how interns are contributing to the advancement of Crow Canyon’s mission

– Become a monthly partner to help Crow Canyon efficiently manage its expenses throughout the year and reduce administrative costs.

Read the full stories here!

Your extraordinary generosity — A Message from Crow Canyon’s President

In an extraordinary year, you made an extraordinary difference.

2020 was a year of unknowns. Crow Canyon staff gathered in our “virtual meeting room” at the end of every week to review our goals, discuss the latest challenges to meeting them, and decide on next steps. Our motto became “when in doubt, find a way to do good in the world at this moment.” We didn’t need to search far. Students, parents, and teachers needed distance learning. Our Native American partners needed support and supplies. Our professional communities needed us to publish and share the results of our research. Nearly everyone needed a way to safely connect with the shared human experience through virtual means.

While the conditions brought upon us by the pandemic did not stop us from delivering our mission to the world, they did prevent us from doing something we believe is deeply meaningful: physically sharing the landscape of the central Mesa Verde region with you.

Your extraordinary generosity supported us in 2020 even though you couldn’t gaze in person across the plateau, walk on trails and discuss the human past with us, smell the junipers and the approaching rain, feel the sun warm your face, and run the soil between your fingers. In fact, hundreds of you who have never once been to Crow Canyon supported us and learned about our mission through webinars, Zooms, and calls.

Over the past 37 years, this remarkable landscape has traditionally been what drew people to Crow Canyon. The stunning Colorado Plateau encircled by mountain ranges, the mesa tops and canyons, the well-preserved archaeological sites and the often-surprisingly strong emotions they evoke. The timeless importance of this sacred landscape to Indigenous people affects visitors from all over the world. Many visitors to Crow Canyon have touched the earth beneath their feet and felt a visceral connection between themselves and its ancient inhabitants.

We are deeply humbled by the magnitude of your support in a year when we weren’t able to see our old friends and greet new ones in person. Your support has inspired us to new heights of creativity, fueled by the desire to reach you even more deeply from a distance. Our landscape will continue to whisper in your ears and tug at your hearts, and we dearly hope to see you here soon as we continue to honor your generosity with our work and live up to your faith in the value of our mission in the world.

With sincerest love and gratitude,


2021 Spring Newsletter

While 2020 was filled with unprecedented challenges, the staff and scholars at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center accomplished some amazing feats that furthered our mission.

– Engaged in education efforts that highlighted archaeological preservation ethics and pushed our educators outside their comfort zones

– Incorporated Native American perspectives into Crow Canyon’s work guided by American Indian Outreach Coordinator Becky Hammond, member of the Ute Mountain Ute tribe

– Honored with a planned gift by Legacy Society member Lois Minium that will support Crow Canyon into the future

– Saw 18,000 registrants for our 50 webinars in the Discover Archaeology webinar series

– Acquired a high-level tree-ring measuring stand and trinocular microscope to conduct analyses of the tree-ring samples recovered from our excavations

– Continued our multiyear work at the Haynie site studying the Lakeview community and kept the public engaged through webinars, social media, and regular presentations from the field

– Sent our Cultural Exploration team to Ute Mountain Tribal Park to lend hands, feet, tools, and time to work on its Pool Canyon trail that has been closed for years ago due to a lack of maintenance

Check out our full Spring Newsletter here! Want to receive future newsletters? Be sure to sign up for our eblasts.

A Moment of Gratitude – A Message from Crow Canyon’s President

We would like to invite you to our future. But first, a moment of gratitude…

Dear Crow Canyon supporters,

These days we begin every meeting at Crow Canyon with a moment of gratitude. I’m particularly grateful when our Trustee Dr. Joseph Suina sets the tone with a prayer in his Native language of Keres. He reminds us to bring good hearts to our work, and to be mindful of the ancestors who lived on the landscape where we study and teach.

Cancelling our 2020 programs due to COVID-19 gave us the opportunity to bring our mission to the world in new ways. We shifted from in-person programs to distance platforms in order to continue engaging the public in Crow Canyon’s research.

The extent to which our reach exceeds our grasp is overwhelming. We involved thousands of people all over the country this year and continue to see interest grow. Curiosity about the people who lived centuries and millennia before we did draws people to our interactive webinars, and they return week after week because what they learn satisfies more than curiosity. Archaeology exposes the time depth and unity of the human experience, particularly when it comes to extraordinary change events. Pandemics, droughts, wildfires, social conflict, and scores of other challenges have shaken communities and families in all cultures across time and space.

At Crow Canyon we believe that possessing detailed knowledge about our shared humanity generates cultural understanding, empathy, and respect for others. We believe that possessing this knowledge bolsters resilience and helps people make better decisions in their lives and work. Crow Canyon’s scholars are in a unique position to contribute value to the world in this moment: a perspective on how science, Indigenous knowledge, and appreciation for other cultures can create solutions in the present and future.

This is not just an abstract concept. The research results we share and discuss in our distance programs are actionable at a time when people are aching to act. For example, the study of how people in the past experienced and overcame the impact of climate change and drought on food production provide immediate options for sustaining water resources and agriculture in the present.

While distance platforms have extended our reach, we have a line of sight to safely drawing people in closer. The vast landscape of the Four Corners is a spectacular outdoor classroom. Our 170-acre campus is a social-distancing paradise of open space filled with teachable moments in human-environment interaction. We are working now on plans to safely layer in-person programs for students and participants back into our work.

Dr. Suina shared with us at a recent meeting how deeply disconcerting the act of social distancing is for the modern Pueblo of Cochiti, where he lives. They trace their ancestors to the large villages that were founded a thousand years ago, where people lived very close together and needed to make patience, understanding, caring, love, and concern a way of life that is still pursued in Pueblo communities today.

At Crow Canyon we start every meeting with gratitude because it is truly a gift to be able to study and learn from Indigenous cultures, whose resilience and ingenuity has continued relevance for understanding our world today and our shared path to the future.

Thank you for being a part of our family from afar. We know in our hearts we will see you again soon.


Liz Perry

President & CEO

President’s Update – May 2021

Dear Crow Canyon supporters,

We have so much to be grateful for this spring, and YOU are at the very top of our gratitude list. I am constantly moved by your contributions to our mission in the world, your participation in our webinars each week, the encouraging messages you send to our staff, and the donations you make that sustain us. Your love and support inspire us to put our heart and soul into our work, and to innovate new ways to engage you with cutting-edge archaeological research, education, and American Indian knowledge.

We are also grateful that the return of sunny weather and improved pandemic conditions have allowed us to get out of our home offices and venture outside on our beloved desert landscape! As soon as it was safe to do so we jumped in our trucks and hit the canyons to scout out new projects and programs that allow us to bring students and citizen scientists back into our work.

When we had to halt our public and student programs due to the pandemic, we vowed to use our time well. Our staff worked on publications, grants, and research, as well as internal projects that had been on the back burner such as revamping our old website (stay tuned for the new one!), professional development for staff, and campus improvements such as trail maintenance and building upgrades. At the same time, our educators and travel coordinators jumped headfirst into digital and distance programs, creating the weekly webinar series and virtual student programs.

We held our first Board of Trustees meeting of the new year via Zoom on March 19, 2021. Our longtime Trustee Dr. Joseph Suina of Cochiti Pueblo opened our meeting with a prayer in his native language of Keres, setting the tone for a meaningful and collaborative session. Our Board Chair, Ricky Lightfoot, reminded the Board and staff that our mission would not be possible without the contributions of Indigenous people in the past, present, and future. Reciprocating the generosity of our American Indian partners and including Indigenous knowledge in all of our projects and programs at Crow Canyon are ongoing goals for the organization.

Crow Canyon ended 2020 in a strong financial position, thanks to our generous donors and to federal PPP loans that have been forgiven. We are delighted to begin a careful process of reinitiating some on-campus and travel programs in addition to our new online programs. Our public archaeology and dendrochronology interns are arriving this month, as well as the college students participating in our National Science Foundation-funded field school. We will keep you posted as new program opportunities become available!

Thank you once more for everything you do for Crow Canyon – we hope to see you in the coming year!



Remembering Dylan Schwindt

The shock was paralyzing to our Crow Canyon family when our Director of IT, Dylan Micah Schwindt, 42, died on December 3rd, 2021. The last few months have been spent grieving, remembering, and coming to terms with our day-to-day personal and professional lives without the wonderful, unique, and loving human being that was our friend and colleague, Dylan. The wound has felt too raw during this time to send a public message to our extended family and friends. His family, friends, and co-workers have shared many wonderful stories about Dylan on social media, and I’m certain there are many more to come. I’d like to share a little bit of his history with Crow Canyon and my relationship with him as a student and colleague.

Dylan was truly one of the most brilliant, creative, talented, and compassionate people I’ve ever known. His relationship with Crow Canyon began in 1995 as a student at our High School Field School, the summer before his junior year. This is also when I met Dylan, since I was a Crow Canyon Education Intern working with this group of high school students. I know from my conversations with him that this year changed both of our lives forever. This was a close-knit, energetic, unique group of exceptional young people who also shared the heartbreaking loss of a friend that year. As a grieving teenager, Dylan composed a beautiful piano tribute to his new friend, kept in touch with her family, and later watched the tree that was planted on our campus in memoriam grow and dwarf the building it still shades.

Right after field school was completed, Dylan volunteered at Crow Canyon during and after his final year of high school, and the next year he was awarded an internship with us in Environmental Archaeology. Still a teenager, he contributed so significantly to the work of Crow Canyon’s archaeologists as a volunteer and intern that he is a named co-author in many prestigious publications with scholars who were at the height of their careers. From his work as an intern, he developed a science experiment drawing on the environmental landscape of this area which placed 8th in the 1997 nationwide Westinghouse Science Talent competition. This impressive award included a full scholarship to NYU and allowed Dylan to conduct annual research projects around the world.

After completing his higher education, Dylan returned to his home landscape and to Crow Canyon in 2008 to work as a database technician. He steadily and deliberately grew his skills and areas of responsibility, receiving many promotions until he became our Director of Information Technology in 2017. I returned to Crow Canyon the following year, thrilled to work with Dylan in his position of leadership over one of our most critical functions.

Dylan was proud and excited to be the leader of IT at Crow Canyon, although the title doesn’t begin to capture his role. He wrote scientific proposals, won prestigious grants for projects, collaborated with other scientists, and published important research. He innovated artificial intelligence technologies for use in pottery analysis. He launched us into virtual reality. He worked with a team to develop our new Crow Canyon LiDAR project to locate and map sites using this sophisticated technology. He upgraded our accounting systems and helped me with our financial turnaround. He was infinitely trustworthy.

Dylan loved to discuss the concept of leadership – what makes a great leader, and how does a leader reach people and bring them together when people are so different. He was relentlessly curious about humans, and occasionally confounded by our reluctance to learn to use emergent technologies. Yet he was always cheerfully determined to help us learn to help ourselves in the world of tech. When we faltered, he made it fun, such as repurposing our campus security cameras to observe the marmots in their natural habitat and texting me to check it out every time he noticed interesting marmot behavior.

When Dylan would pop his head into my office to chat, I would see the adult leader he had become, and the funny, impossibly brilliant teenager I remembered. His warmth, love, and kindness will always permeate Crow Canyon’s campus, and remind me why I believe in this place, and why I believe people can make a difference in the world.

I miss you, Dylan.

With love,


Contributions can be made to the newly established Dylan Schwindt

Memorial Fund at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, 23390 Road K, Cortez, CO 81321, Please make out checks to Crow Canyon Archaeological Center with “Dylan Schwindt Memorial Fund” in the note.

The use of this fund will be decided in collaboration with Dylan’s family to further projects that Dylan initiated and was passionate about.

2019 Annual Meeting Summary – A Message From Crow Canyon’s President

On Friday evening, Ben Bellorado, 2018–2019 Lister Fellow, presented a lecture to a packed crowd in the Mesa Verde Room. During his lecture, “Leaving Footprints in the Ancient U.S. Southwest: Visible Indicators of Group Affiliation and Social Position in the Chaco and Post-Chaco Eras,” Ben shared the exciting results of his research. Ben is the 12th recipient of this fellowship. The Florence C. and Robert H. Lister Fellowship was established in recognition of the lifelong achievements of the late Florence and Robert Lister, noted archaeologists, dedicated educators, and friends and supporters of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. The purpose of the fellowship is to assist graduate students who show promise of making a significant contribution to the archaeological knowledge of American Indian cultures of the Southwest. Recipients of the Lister Fellowship are awarded a stipend of $10,000 to help support the final stages of their research and the writing of their dissertations.

On Saturday morning, a small but enthusiastic group enjoyed a tour of the Haynie site with Kellam Throgmorton. The Annual Meeting followed, beginning at 11 AM. As promised in my last message, I wanted to share some of the important topics and remarks from this meeting with our supporters. In addition to our Board of Trustees, about 30 guests and staff attended the Annual Meeting. One of the major business items at this time of year is to elect and announce the slate of officers for the coming year. The officers elected for 2020 are:

– Ricky Lightfoot, Chair

– Leslie Masson, Vice Chair

– Pamela Powell, Secretary

– Liz Perry, President, and CEO

– Carla Hoehn, Chief Financial Officer

Ricky opened the meeting with his Chairman’s message, which began with recognition of some important friends and former leaders at Crow Canyon. We are still mourning the recent passing of our dear friend and former Board member Bill Huff, who was much beloved by our Crow Canyon family. Trustee Barbara Schwietert is retiring from the Board after 16 years of committed and tremendously valuable service. Our longtime CFO Gayle Prior, who came out of retirement to assist with our financial turnaround, is now able to return to retirement with the election of our new CFO, Carla Hoehn. We are very grateful that Gayle and former Board member Gene Bradley have agreed to serve on a new Financial Advisory Committee and continue to lend their expertise and assistance to our team as we advance Crow Canyon’s financial and business improvements.

Ricky shared that this was his 35th annual meeting, having started his career at Crow Canyon in 1984. Our founder, Stuart Struever, had a vision for Crow Canyon as a new model for sustaining archaeological research through private funding and public participation. “After 35 years, we have accomplished a lot related to our mission, and we have survived many challenges. We have been resilient,” Ricky said. He concluded his remarks by saying, “I am confident that Crow Canyon’s best days lie ahead, because we have a deep bench of talent on our staff and we have a broad network of supporters across the country who care about the future of Crow Canyon.”

Following Ricky’s message, I shared some of my impressions after 18 months as President. It is my experience that the defining qualities of Crow Canyon’s staff and stakeholders are resilience, passion, and perseverance. These qualities have helped us overcome our obstacles in the past and they are the key to our successful future. Our own organizational history tells us that every dozen years or so, we face challenges that give us an opportunity to take stock of who we are, what we want to do in the world, and how we will focus our energies and talents

Over the last year, our staff spent time together discussing these big questions. We agree that in all the work we do, we seek to:

Broaden understanding of our shared human experience

Show the relevance of our research to the challenges of the present

Produce and share our research results and information in impactful ways

Reach many learners of all kinds

Be a sustainable and sustaining organization

In order to meet this goal of sustaining the important work of our organization, this year we have taken some key actions to make us more efficient at achieving our mission, such as consolidating the delivery of our educational programs, archaeological research, and Native American partnerships into a single collaborative department under our long-time leader, Dr. Susan Ryan. For 2020, we have compressed the on-campus program season to April through August in order to give our scholars and educators time to focus on research completion, new project development, new program and curriculum development, and finding new and meaningful ways to incorporate American Indian knowledge into our projects and programs. We have also significantly streamlined and reduced our marketing and administrative functions.

At the end of the meeting, we invited questions and discussion from the audience. We were so pleased with the interest and engagement of everyone who attended, and we had a number of robust conversations. The major areas of interest of the audience included:

Outreach: New ideas for digital outreach through social media, and how to reach as many people as possible with information about Crow Canyon

Governance: Implementation of best practices for governance, such as regular evaluation of our audit firms

Mission: The infusion of our mission in everything we do, including our travel programs, which are designed to expand our research to a global scale

Program Changes: After much consideration, we are not offering the 3-week High School Field School in 2020. New camp regulations that were instituted in Colorado this past year have made camp operations cost-prohibitive. We are working on solutions for future years, and we are offering one-week High School and Middle School camps, College Field School, and teacher workshops in 2020.

The best part of the Annual Meeting for me was this open discussion with our audience. I am so grateful for our loyal supporters who have seen us through our successes and our challenges. All of us at Crow Canyon is inspired to sharpen our focus on our mission for the year ahead.

Thanks to the support of people like you, we are strong.

Thank you for your loyal support of Crow Canyon!

With gratitude,


The long heartbreak of the Marshall Fire

It’s been three weeks since the most destructive fire in Colorado history hurled thousands of people into shock. Our Crow Canyon family extends into the communities and homes that were consumed by wind and fire that frightening day, a day spent texting and calling and checking social media to find out if our friends were safe. Like so many others, the feeling of relief at finding friends and family unharmed was quickly replaced by disbelief and despair at the nearly 1,100 houses lost.

Homes are the museums of our memories, filled with artifacts that tell the stories of our lives. In the hours after they’re gone, messages of consolation say, “things can be replaced, but people can’t.” In the weeks and months that follow, this fact loses some of its power to comfort. We humans universally create keepsakes, collect relics, and touch the mementos of our past to ground us in our present and accompany us into the future.

For nearly two years, the pandemic transformed homes into remote offices and schools, isolation and quarantine shelters, and safe retreats from an unpredictable outside world. Losing the physical structure that kept us safe and the objects that connected us to our personal history is especially poignant right now.

After the shock fades, the weight of loss collides with the heavy lift ahead. The challenges of cleanup, demolition, debris removal, and a maze of logistics and difficult choices are ahead. Communities and people are resilient and will persevere and thrive again. The rebuilding may go a little easier if we recognize that those affected on December 30th are at the beginning, and will need our understanding, compassion, and support for the long journey ahead.

With love,

Liz Perry

President & CEO

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

In an extraordinary year, YOU made an extraordinary difference!

When we cancelled all our 2020 programs due to COVID-19, we were left wondering how to continue making the human past accessible and relevant to our wide community of supporters and citizen scientists. Thanks to YOU, we were able to grow and thrive as an organization in ways we never expected.

Your contributions last year made it possible to make archaeological research, experiential education, and American Indian knowledge accessible to our diverse community of learners, despite not being able to do so in person. In 2020, we introduced our new “Discover Archaeology” webinar series—and week after week, we saw thousands of participants engage with our distance-learning program.

On March 26, 2020, we hosted the first webinar series event: Updates from the Northern Chaco Outliers Project featuring Dr. Kari Schleher and Dr. Kellam Throgmorton. Over 400 people signed up for our very first webinar. Since then, Crow Canyon hosted 40 webinars and engaged more than 3,000 new participants on a virtual platform.

Without a doubt, this year would not have been possible without the support and encouragement from our donors and participants. The webinar series has made it possible to engage our community of learners from the safety of their own homes. Together, we examined kivas and T-shaped doors, studied Chaco Canyon’s monumental roads, learned about Ute, Navajo, and Pueblo history, contemporary artists, essential food and medicine on the land, archaeological textiles, and more.

But introducing our webinar series was just one of our accomplishments in 2020. Here is a list of other things we’re proud of that happened during a most extraordinary year.

– Published The Basketmaker Communities Project Interpretive Report and Companion Database.

– Introduced an online photo database that provides user-friendly access to nearly 40 years of Crow Canyon archaeological research photos.

– Installed a live marmot cam to connect people at a distance to our beautiful campus

– Developed educational videos for teachers and students, bringing Crow Canyon into the classroom and homeschool.

– Expanded multivocal curricula to include Ute and Navajo oral histories and cultures .

– Collaborated with Native Waters on Arid Lands to support Native farmers with water and soil data.

– Collaborated with local partners to restore trails in the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park.

– Added dendrochronological equipment to the lab for tree-ring analyses.

– Perfected 3D photogrammetry of objects, giving scholars unprecedented access to curated artifacts.

– Delivered PPE supplies and materials to Hopi, Cochiti, and Jemez Pueblos in Arizona and New Mexico.

– Improved the Wi-Fi at the Haynie site to allow efficient entry of field data directly into the database and to permit virtual site tours.

In addition to the gifts provided from our donors and participants, we are immensely grateful for the support provided by the Colorado Humanities, the National Endowment for Humanities, and the CARES Act for helping us form long lasting partnerships with like-minded organizations.

Thank you for the generous support you have shown us through 2020. Your enthusiasm for our work inspires us every day! Here’s to getting through 2021 together.

Unexpected Grace — A message from Crow Canyon’s president

This year, “gratitude moments” have lifted our spirits and focused our resolve to do good in the world. We’ve cultivated the habit of taking a moment to recognize and appreciate the people in our lives who silently and thoughtfully make the world a better place, day in and day out.

And then come the surprises. The moments of unexpected grace that moved us to tears. We couldn’t believe how many people supported our efforts to document the voices and stories of Native American elders. We were taken aback by acts of extraordinary generosity to Crow Canyon by our donors. We were humbled by the kindness, patience, and compassion shown to us by our Native American advisors and partners. Gratitude is not a static feeling. It drives our actions by impressing on us the responsibility we have to the people who believe in our mission and trust us to deliver. It sustains and motivates us to be better humans than we could have imagined.

We embrace the values of reciprocity, generosity, gratitude, and community that are evoked by the concept of Thanksgiving. Crow Canyon also has a responsibility to educate the public about the harm that is caused by false representations of Native American culture and community. Mythologizing the story of the first Thanksgiving masks the cultural violence experienced by the ancestors of contemporary Indigenous people, and the hundreds of years of strength and resilience that was necessary to produce the diverse and thriving Native cultures of today.

Crow Canyon is committed to making the human past accessible and relevant. Cultural continuity is relevant to our Native partners, and this requires valuing Indigenous history as told by Indigenous people and learning history from Native people. November is American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage month, and we were honored to learn from Indigenous scholars and leaders such as Winona LaDuke, Dr. Joseph Aguilar, and Ricardo Caté in our webinar series. Indigenous scholars, Lyle Balenquah and Rebecca Hammond, taught us about hundreds of years of diverse Native American history and perspective on a trip to the ancestral lands contained within the Bears Ears National Monument.

Crow Canyon gives thanks for your support of our mission. It is your kindness and generosity that allows us to celebrate, appreciate, and reciprocate the wisdom and perspective we have received from Indigenous people, communities, and cultures.


The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center acknowledges the Pueblo, Ute, Paiute, Diné (Navajo), and Jicarilla Apache people on whose traditional homelands this institution sits, and upon which we work and reside.

Our mission-related work would not be possible without Indigenous people in the past, present, and future. We respectfully recognize, and honor, ancestral and descendant Indigenous communities for their contributions to all humankind.

Crow Canyon is grateful to all Indigenous people and supports the preservation and protection of cultural traditions, ancestral connections, and sacred lands.


Liz Perry

President & CEO

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

Mission Impact Moment

Sometimes it’s the little things that signal positive social change. We focus our public education efforts at Crow Canyon on raising awareness and understanding of American Indian culture, historical time depth, and contemporary vibrancy. It is important to our Native advisors and partners that we emphasize that archaeological sites are not seen as “ruins” by descendant communities. These sites are still inhabited by the spirits of the ancestors, and they are important to maintaining Native cultural continuity in the present and future.

On a recent trip to Bear’s Ears National Monument, our Chief Outreach Officer Sarah Payne chatted with a non-Native visitor who told her that these sites are “ancestral sites,” and not “ruins.” Hearing an accurate representation of Native culture and history from a member of the public is a small but critical element of combating misrepresentation and discrimination against Native people.