Crow Canyon’s New Partnership with the Cortez Cultural Center

This year, Crow Canyon forged a new, exciting partnership with the Cortez Cultural Center and Executive Director, Rebecca Levy, that includes interactive displays in the Cultural Center’s lobby, the analyses and recording of artifact collections, and an archaeological survey at the Hawkins Preserve south of Cortez.

Crow Canyon’s 2022 Education Intern, Catherine Gagnon, took the lead to create interpretive digital resources for visitors at the Cortez Cultural Center. From Indigenous videos on how to visit archaeological sites with respect to Pre-Hispanic timelines, visitors can now interact with digital resources that are projected on a wall for easy access to educational content related to local history and culture.

The Center displays artifacts, dating from A.D. 500–1300, including pottery vessels that Crow Canyon’s laboratory archaeologists are analyzing to determine what time period they date to and if there are any that may have been brought into the area from outside of the Mesa Verde region, an indicator of social networks in the past.

At the Hawkins Preserve, Crow Canyon field archaeologists developed a pedestrian survey as part of Crow Canyon’s Archaeology Research Program—this program involves citizen scientists to aid in data collection on the archaeological sites that dot the landscape. Hawkins Preserve consists of a 122-acre natural area and includes numerous Pueblo I–Pueblo III period (A.D. 750–1300) habitations that are part of the Mitchell Springs Group, one of the densest concentrations of houses and community architecture in what is now southwest Colorado. In addition, there are several historic sites associated with Ute and Navajo peoples, as well as the earliest Euro-American settlers in the Cortez area.

“In conjunction with Crow Canyon’s Northern Chaco Outliers Project, data collected during our partnership with the Cortez Cultural Center will provide important information on the history and occupation of two of the largest Pre-Hispanic communities in the area, greatly contributing to our understanding of the human past in the Mesa Verde region.” — Dr. Susan Ryan, Chief Mission Officer

We are excited to embark on this new partnership with the Cortez Cultural Center!

Basketmaker Communities Project Final Interpretive Report and Companion Database

The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center is pleased to announce the publication of the Basketmaker Communities Project Final Interpretive Report and Companion Database!

From 2011–2017, the Basketmaker Communities Project focused on a pivotal, yet under-investigated, time in history—the Basketmaker III period (A.D. 500–750). Focusing on early Pueblo growth, this multi-year project addressed research questions pertaining to community organization, migration, environmental change, settlement and land-use patterns, and population shifts through time. The first farmers in the central Mesa Verde region established not only vast farmsteads, but cultural frameworks that became the hallmarks of Pueblo society.

This is Crow Canyon’s 10th major publication of a multi-year research project accomplished in the context of public education and American Indian involvement.

Click here to read the Final Interpretive Report and click here to visit the companion database.

Happy reading!

2022 Spring Newsletter

The Spring Newsletter is Here!

Much is happening at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center! Over the past year, our amazing staff, scholars, and volunteers have done great things and we’re excited to share their recent accomplishments and other news from Crow Canyon. Keep reading to learn more.

– This year, Crow Canyon is partnering with the Cortez Cultural Center to bring you the Archaeology Research Program! We are inviting citizen scientists to join us in an archaeological survey of the Hawkins Preserve.

– Volunteers are making a big impact on curation collections! For National Volunteer Month in April, we highlighted the contributions of our lab volunteers on two ongoing projects including rehousing pottery vessels and studying obsidian artifacts from Aztec Ruins National Monument.

– We congratulated Kelsey Hanson on being the recipient of the Crow Canyon 2022–2023 Lister Fellowship, which is awarded every two years to a Ph.D. student and comes with a $10,000 stipend to support their research and dissertation work.

– Crow Canyon scholars and friends published these notable and newsworthy publications!

– Crow Canyon’s 2021 Field Report, read here

– “Reading Between the Lines: The Social Value of Dogoszhi Style in the Chaco World,” published in American Antiquity

– “Becoming Hopi: A History” published by the University of Arizona Press

– Last but certainly not least, we mourned the loss of Director of IT Dylan Schwindt in December. Dylan was truly a brilliant, creative, talented, and compassionate soul. We established the Dylan Schwindt Memorial Fund to honor our dear friend.

To view the full Spring Newsletter, click here:

Announcing the recipient of the 2022 Lister Fellowship!

We would like to announce Kelsey Hanson as the recipient of the 2022 Lister Fellowship award!

The Lister Fellowship was established in recognition of the lifelong achievements of the late Florence and Robert Lister — archaeologists, dedicated educators, and friends and supporters of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. Awarded every two years to a single enrolled Ph.D. student, this fellowship comes with a $10,000 stipend to help support the recipient in the final stages of their research and dissertation work.

The 2022 Lister Fellowship recipient, Kelsey Hanson, is a Ph.D. candidate at the School of Anthropology at the University of Arizona, where she specializes in the archaeology of the U.S. Southwest. She is dedicated to seeking creative interdisciplinary and collaborative means of understanding the diversity of human expression, problem-solving, and sociopolitical organization.

Kelsey received her Bachelor of Science in Anthropology from Grand Valley State University in 2014 and her Master of Science from Illinois State University in 2016. Kelsey credits her 2016 Field Internship at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center for setting her on her current path in Southwest archaeology.

In her current work, Kelsey is particularly interested in how specialized knowledge is cultivated and circulated in communities and how this is encoded in material culture. Drawing from anthropological archaeology, Indigenous philosophy, and conservation science, Hanson’s dissertation research problematizes paint technology to understand the circulation of specialized knowledge in the rise and fall of the Chaco World of northern New Mexico (A.D. 850–1300).

Kelsey was chosen as the recipient of the 2022 Lister Fellowship by a committee of three distinguished anthropological archaeologists because of her amazing academic achievements, her passion for Southwest archaeology, and her focus on hands-on, experiential learning.

Upon completion of her Ph.D., Kelsey plans to pursue a postdoctoral and university faculty position that will allow her to continue her research and her goal of making the human past accessible to the greater population.

We are incredibly excited to have Kelsey join us at Crow Canyon for the duration of her fellowship, and we look forward to seeing her grow as a student and as a person while she completes her Ph.D.

Application Period for the Lister Fellowship is Open: Submit Your Research Proposal Today!

We are excited to announce that the application period for the 2022–2023 Florence C. and Robert H. Lister Fellowship is now open!

Every two years, the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center awards the Lister Fellowship to a Ph.D. student who shows promise in making impactful and positive contributions to the archaeological knowledge of American Indian cultures of the Greater Southwest, including northern Mexico.

Named in recognition of late archaeologists and educators, Florence and Robert Lister, the recipient of the Lister Fellowship is awarded a stipend of $10,000 to help support them while they are in the final stages of their research and dissertation work. Once awarded, the recipient will be granted the stipend, typically in four equal installments over the course of a 12-month period, beginning in January of 2022. This money can be used to help the recipient during their dissertation work, from defraying educational costs related to their Ph.D. program to helping pay for living expenses while working.

The recipient of the Lister Fellowship is required to present a colloquium on their research at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center during the fellowship period and give a bound copy of their dissertation to the Crow Canyon research library. The Fellow and the Executive Vice President of the Research Institute at Crow Canyon will schedule this colloquium toward the end of the fellowship period.

The fellowship is open to students who have been admitted to a Ph.D. program at a recognized university in North America and who are engaged in dissertation research or writing. The design of the student’s project must produce a significant increase in knowledge about American Indian cultures in the southwestern United States or northern Mexico. Data for the dissertation may be gathered through field archaeology or analysis of existing archaeological collections. The study may be focused on either the pre‐Hispanic or historic period; projects that consider the interaction of American Indian and European‐derived cultures are eligible. Relevant projects that depend primarily on ethnoarchaeology or paleoenvironmental studies will also be considered.

Our current Lister Fellow recipient, Katie Richards, is a Ph.D. student at Washington State University and is close to finishing her dissertation on Fremont social and political organization and the relationship between the Fremont and Pueblo culture areas. She has pursued this research since 2007 by conducting archaeological surveys, excavations, and laboratory analyses, including work at many important sites in both the Fremont and Ancestral Pueblo regions.

You can find more information about past Lister Fellowship recipients here, and watch one of 2017 Lister Fellow Benjamin Bellorado‘s webinar videos here.

Dr. Sarah Oas Awarded Society for American Archaeology Dissertation Award

Congratulations to Dr. Sarah Oas for her incredible achievement in earning the 2020 Society for American Archaeology Dissertation Award! This award was presented for her detail-driven study into the transformation of food storage, preparation, and consumption in the Cibola region of the Southwest.

Dr. Oas is a CCAC Research Associate and past intern, and she is scheduled to be the lead scholar on this summer’s Cuisine Through Time trip, pending health and safety recommendations.

Previous studies of the Cibola (Zuni) region provide a picture of shifting social relationships in the region, population migration, and settlement reorganization. Dr. Oas’s study delves deeper into the characteristics and effects of food on these events and changes.

Her dissertation focuses on the societal roles that different aspects of food production and cuisine played in the Zuni culture of the American Southwest during the Pueblo II to Pueblo IV periods (A.D. 900–1400). Using available data, past research, historical accounts, and her work with modern Zuni farmers and cooks, Dr. Oas skillfully reconstructs and cross-references many details integral to the cultural roles of food from agriculture to feasting. Dr. Oas’s work also uncovers the transformation of social roles, including the growth of labor burdens on women in Cibola households.

In past research and publications, Dr. Oas investigated a variety of human-flora relationships. This includes the domestication of palm oil and the political and environmental effects of sugar plantations in the Caribbean and West African agriculture.

Crow Canyon is incredibly proud of Dr. Oas for her hard work in piecing together dozens of resources along with her own field work to historically reconstruct these intricate foodways. This award is presented to the best dissertation in our practice each year and it is a great, well-deserved honor for Dr. Oas. We thank her for her commitment to archaeological research and all of her hard work in and outside of Crow Canyon.

Dr. Oas joins several other CCAC researchers and associates who have previously received this award:

– Dave Abbott (Lister Fellow) in 1995

– Mark Varien (Executive Vice President of the Research Institute) in 1998

– Andrew Duff (staff) in 2001

– Wes Bernardini (intern/Lister Fellow) in 2003

– Scott Ortman (intern/staff/Lister Fellow) in 2011

– Matt Peeples (intern) in 2014

New Publication from Crow Canyon Researchers Looks at Ancient Pueblo Economy

The professional publications just keep on coming for Crow Canyon’s remarkable group of researchers, as Laboratory Manager Kari Schleher, Ph.D. and Research Institute Research Database Administrator Grant Coffey have chapters in a new volume edited by Crow Canyon Research Associate and renowned Southwestern archaeologist Scott Ortman, Ph.D.

The volume, Reframing the Northern Rio Grande Pueblo Economy (University of Arizona Press), takes a closer look at socioeconomic developments in Rio Grande pueblo societies following their migrations to the region in the 13th century through the lens of the archaeological record.

According to Ortman and his contributors, early Pueblo economies were organized in radically different ways than modern industrialized and capitalist economies. This is examined through demographic patterns; the production and exchange of food, cotton textiles, pottery, and stone tools; and institutional structures reflected in village plans, rock art, and ritual artifacts that promoted peaceful exchange.

In her chapter, “Community Specialization and Standardization in the Galisteo Basin: The View from Pueblo San Marcos,” Schleher examines the specialization in pottery production at New Mexico’s San Marcos Pueblo, and considers the implications of community-level specialization at San Marcos for the overall Rio Grande Pueblo economy.

In their chapter, “The Network Effects of Rio Grande Pueblo Rituals”, Coffey and Ortman look at the plaza-based public rituals of the Northern Rio Grande Pueblos, and how these events may have been an important economic driver for pre-Hispanic pueblo communities. Through mathematical models and the archaeological record, they argue that these “feast day” types of events strengthened community solidarity and social relationships and acted as an important driver of community size, specialization, economic integration, and living standards.

To order a copy of Reframing the Northern Rio Grande Pueblo Economy from the University of Arizona Press, click here.

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

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center’s Sandal Biography Project is a collaborative effort that explores Ancestral Pueblo footwear traditions. Through function and fashion, footwear ties all humans to both the physical acts of walk, running, and dancing as well as the social dimensions of identity, status, and community. Drawing on the perspectives of Zuni and Tiwa/Piro weavers and a clothing archaeologist, we investigate Ancestral Pueblo sandal weaving practices using an object biography approach. In addition to understanding the use of sandals in the past, our project seeks to reconnect descendant communities with materials and landscapes of their ancestors, to decolonize museum spaces, and to revitalize Indigenous footwear traditions. Through collaborative collections research, we demonstrate methods that Indigenous artisans, archaeologists, and museum professionals can use to develop new understandings of the past, present, and future.

Photo Caption:

Pueblo weavers Chris Lewis (Pueblo of Zuni) and Louie Garcia (Tiwa/Piro) and clothing archaeologist Dr. Benjamin Bellorado (Crow Canyon Archaeological Center), examine an assortment of Ancestral Pueblo sandals in the Mesa Verde National Park Visitor and Research Center during the Sandal Biographies Project.

Crow Canyon Researchers Shine at 2019 SAA Conference

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center researchers represent some of the best and brightest minds working in Southwest Archaeology today. And that research was on full display at the 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) in Albuquerque this past spring.

Crow Canyon staff, research associates, and Pueblo Advisory Group members were authors on an incredible 36 papers and 11 posters for this year’s meeting, as well as serving as session organizers, chairs, panel members, and SAA committee members.

“It’s always special to have an SAA meeting near our home in the Southwest, and we took full advantage of our proximity this year,” says Kyle Bocinsky, Ph.D., Director of the Research Institute at Crow Canyon. “Thanks to the establishment of the William D. Lipe Advances in Research Program through a generous gift from Leslie and Colin Masson, the Research Institute at Crow Canyon was able to send 19 CCAC staff members to the SAA’s this year.”

Some of the many highlights for Crow Canyon researchers at this year’s SAA included a symposium by Crow Canyon supervisory archaeologist Shanna Diederichs titled “Adopting the Pueblo Fettle: The Breadth and Depth of the Basketmaker III Cultural Horizon”; a presentation by the Research Institute’s Grant Coffey, Mark Varien, Ph.D., and Bocinsky titled “Basketmaker III in the Central Mesa Verde Region: Transitions, Social Dynamics, and Population Growth”; and posters from supervisory field archaeologist Samantha Fladd, “Gendered Identities and Room Conversions at Homol’ovi” and Crow Canyon educator Paul Ermigiotti, Mark Varien, Leigh Kuwanwisiwma of the Hopi tribe, and Grant Coffey titled “The Pueblo Farming Project: A Hopi-Crow Canyon Archaeological Center Collaboration.”

In addition to the research presentations, Crow Canyon research associate and Trustee Tim Kohler, Ph.D., received a Presidential Recognition Award from SAA. Tim was recognized for his leadership in public engagement in archaeology, and for organizing last year’s President’s Forum, “What Have We Learned”. The forum brought together a diverse panel of archaeologists to discuss what the archaeological record has taught us that is important and useful for modern society, and how our research might inform the future.

Congratulations and thank you to all of Crow Canyon’s staff and associates for your continued hard work–and thank you to all of Crow Canyon’s donors and program participants whose generous financial support makes it all possible.

For more information on how you can help support Crow Canyon’s important archaeological, cultural, and educational mission, click here or call (800) 422.8975, ext. 124.

Crow Canyon Archaeologists Susan Ryan, Samantha Fladd Highlighted in New Publications

The excavation season is still a couple months away, but archaeologists here at Crow Canyon have been hard at work on research projects—and that work is paying off with a pair of new publications.

Crow Canyon supervisory field archaeologist Samantha Fladd, Ph.D., and Arizona State Museum repatriation coordinator Claire S. Barker, Ph.D., have published “Miniature in Everything But Meaning: A Contextual Analysis of Miniature Vessels at Homol’ovi I” in the latest issue of the journal American Antiquity.

In the article, Fladd and Barker examine miniature ceramic vessels found at Homol’ovi I—a prehispanic pueblo site in northern Arizona. Through analysis of the craft mastery, use, and deposition of the vessels at the site, Fladd and Barker argue that the objects served as important components in the preparation or closure practices of ritual spaces at the pueblo.

In addition, Crow Canyon’s Director of Archaeology, Susan Ryan, Ph.D., has published a chapter on the role of kiva architecture during the Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods in the Southwest in a new book, Coming Together: Comparative Approaches to Population Aggregation and Early Urbanization, edited by Attila Gyucha, Ph.D. (State University of New York Press, Albany).

The chapter, “Integration and Disintegration: The Role of Kiva Architecture in Community Formation during the Pueblo II and Pueblo III Periods in the U.S. Southwest,” takes a look at the question of how the built environment is reflected in the formation and dissolution of ancestral pueblo communities. The goal of the study is to increase the understanding of how social, economic, political, and cultural principles and mechanisms relate to population nucleation in both the past and present.

You’ll have a great opportunity to ask Fladd and Ryan about their research in person later this year as a participant in Crow Canyon’s Archaeology Research Program, which is currently focused on the Haynie site near Cortez, Colorado, as part of our Northern Chaco Outliers Project.

For more information on how you can be a part of this exciting research project, click here or call 800-422-8975, ext. 451 to talk to one of our enrollment specialists.

New Paper by Crow Canyon Intern Takes Closer Look at Ancient Mineral

Generally speaking, a good way to determine the value of something to somebody is to first determine the distance they’re willing to carry it on foot. By this measure–and for reasons that remain a mystery–the Clovis people who lived in North America at the time of the last Ice Age valued a very specific variation of a common red pigment enough to carry a large amount of it on foot some 60 miles from its source.

This is according to a new paper, “Long-distance transport of red ocher by Clovis foragers” , co-authored by 2019 Crow Canyon intern Sandra Zarzycka in the latest edition of the Journal of Archaeological Science. In the paper, Zarzycka and her co-authors say that the analysis of a thick deposit of red ochre at a 13,000 year-old La Prele mammoth processing site (48CO1401) in Wyoming shows that it came from an ancient ochre quarry called Powars II, located nearly 100 kilometers (62 miles) to the southeast.

Red ochre, also known as hematite, is a soft iron oxide mineral that was commonly used by many North American Paleoindians for a variety of purposes including creating pictographs. According to the authors, the red ochre found at the site was analyzed via inductively coupled plasma optical emission spectroscopy, which picked up high concentrations of zinc and nickel, matching samples taken from the Powars II site.

The paper–co-authored by Todd A. Surovell, Madeline E. Mackie, Spencer R. Pelton, Robert L. Kelly, Paul Goldberg, Janet Dewey, and Meghan Kent–acknowledges that the reason why the Clovis people valued red ochre in the context of a mammoth kill remains a mystery.

“Ocher is a mineral that has no nutritional and arguably limited utilitarian value, which begs the question of why this material was moved so far across the landscape,” the report notes. “Given that hematite was transported a long distance, it also seems somewhat odd that so much of it was left at the site. The reason for this apparent contradiction, for now, will have to remain unanswered.”

Zarzycka, a summer field archaeology intern at Crow Canyon, is a currently working on a Masters degree in Environmental Archaeology at the University of North Texas.

Crow Canyon offers paid internships in our Archaeology, Education, and American Indian Initiatives departments for undergraduate and graduate students in archaeology, anthropology, education, and related fields. For more information, click here.

Crow Canyon presents at the SAAs and the SfAAs

Sharing the results of fieldwork and laboratory analyses is fundamental to meeting Crow Canyon’s professional and ethical obligations as archaeologists. This spring, members of Crow Canyon’s staff attended two conferences, the 82nd Annual meeting of the Society for Applied Anthropology (SfAA) in Salt Lake City, March 22nd – 26th and the 87th Annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology (SAA) meeting in Chicago, March 30–April 3. Both conferences brought members of the archaeological community from around the world together to share research and best practices in the field.

At the SfAAs in Salt Lake, Mark Varien (Executive Vice President of the Research Institute at Crow Canyon) et al. presented The Pueblo Farming Project: Research, Education, and Native American Collaboration, and Liz Perry (CEO/President) and Susan Ryan (Chief Mission Officer) presented Archaeology as Applied Anthropology at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.

At the SAAs, Kellam Throgmorton (Field Director) co-organized a symposium with former Crow Canyon field archaeologist Erin Baxter (currently the curator of anthropology at Denver Museum of Nature and Science) entitled, New Perspectives for Chaco Outlier Research and Advocacy with Ruth Van Dyke as Discussant. Fourteen papers were presented in this symposium, featuring emerging Southwest scholars (grad students and recent PhDs, including Sam Fladd), Indigenous perspectives (such as Theresa Pasqual and Octavius Seowtewa), and veteran archaeologists.

Four papers were presented by Crow Canyon employees during the symposium:

Grant Coffey and Mark Varien Chaco Great Houses in the Great Sage Plain of Southwestern Colorado

Susan Ryan and Rebecca Hammond Indigenous Perspective on the Future of Chaco Research

Benjamin Bellorado The Footwear of Leadership and Prestige in the Chaco World: Twined Sandals and House Societies in the Great San Juan River Drainage

Kellam Throgmorton Recognizing Ancient North American Polities: Introducing Peoplehood to the Chacoan World

Organizing sessions is a big task and the outcome of a well-organized session can influence the direction of inquiry in the discipline. Congratulations to Kellam and Erin for accomplishing this milestone, which turned out to be one of the best-attended sessions for the conference.

“Despite pulling from a wide array of scholars and institutions, a surprising number of participants in our symposium have some kind of Crow Canyon tie-in, which I think is a testament to our institutional impact on Southwestern Archaeology!” —Kellam Throgmorton

Tayler Hasbrouck (Community Outreach Manager) and Tyson Hughes (Education Manager) presented a paper in a separate symposium entitled, How will Covid-19 Affect the Future of Public Archaeology, and Jonathan Dombrosky (postdoctoral scholar) presented a poster in a session titled Recent Research in Southwestern Archaeology.

We are incredibly proud of the diverse and professional papers presented at these two conferences. We are grateful to the donors who contribute to the William D. Lipe Advances in Research endowment, which supports our staff attendance at conferences that contribute to the advancement of Crow Canyon’s mission.