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.

Dr. Tim Kohler elected to the National Academy of Sciences

Congratulations to Crow Canyon board member Tim Kohler for his election to the National Academy of Sciences!

First established by President Abraham Lincoln in 1863, the National Academy of Sciences is a nonprofit society of scholars tasked with providing independent, objective advice about science and technology to the nation. The NAS is committed to furthering science in America, and its members are active contributors to the international scientific community. New members are elected “in recognition of their distinguished and continuing achievements in original research,” according to the NAS website. Kohler is one of just 150 new members announced last month.

Kohler studies the social dynamics of prehistoric cultures, specializing in the U.S. Southwest. His research explores the relationships between demography, violence, wealth inequality, social evolution, and climate variability. He is a Regents Professor at Washington State University; an External Professor at the Santa Fe Institute; and a Research Associate at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. He also served as the Johanna-Mestorf Chair at Christian-Albrechts Universität, Kiel Germany and as an Invited Scholar at the Research Institute for Humanity and Nature in Kyoto, Japan.

Tim’s research on southwestern U.S. archaeology began when he joined the Dolores Archaeological Program in 1979, and he went on to direct an excavation project in Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico.

His recent research includes SKOPE (Synthesizing Knowledge of Past Environments), a collaboration with Arizona State University, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and Crow Canyon that makes data on past environments widely accessible. In addition, he recently worked with colleagues at the Santa Fe Institute on an NSF IBSS-funded project to analyze information flows in human organizations. With Amy Bogaard, University of Oxford, he directs the Global Dynamics of Inequality Project (GINI), which is run through the Center for Collaborative Synthesis in Archaeology at the University of Colorado, Boulder.

Kohler recently served as a lead author of one of the chapters in the recently released report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change dealing with how humans are adapting, and might adapt, to the changes in the world’s weather systems that we are already beginning to experience.

Congratulations on this exciting achievement, Tim!

Thank You College Field School Students!

Many thanks to our College Field School students and Native American Scholars-In-Residence for their contributions to Crow Canyon’s mission initiatives! We enjoyed working with students and scholars who were thoroughly engaged and excited to delve into the realm of archaeology and Indigenous cultural knowledge. Students learned many perspectives from resident scholars representing diverse cultural backgrounds and gained a more holistic understanding of modern and past Indigenous cultures. This REU Sites award supports authentic archaeological research for 10 undergraduate students from underrepresented populations over the course of seven weeks.

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!

Crow Canyon Welcomes Its First-Ever Postdoctoral Scholar

The Research Institute at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center is delighted to welcome its first-ever postdoctoral scholar, Dr. Michelle I. Turner, Ph.D. Crow Canyon is excited to take another step forward in developing a postdoctoral program that will build archaeological careers, amplify Crow Canyon’s ongoing research, and serve the field of archaeology.

Dr. Turner will be joining the Northern Chaco Outliers Project as an independent scholar to lead cutting edge research while connecting the Northern Chaco Outliers Project to broader research on the Chacoan system. She will work closely with Crow Canyon researchers to explore the development of the Lakeview Group Chacoan community around the Haynie, Wallace, and Ida Jean sites. Through pottery analysis, she will help Crow Canyon reveal the Lakeview Group’s place within the cultural landscape of the Chaco world.

In her prior research, Dr. Turner conducted archaeological testing at the Aztec North great house at Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico. She explored the timeline and construction of this previously unexcavated great house. Dr. Turner specializes in collecting information through pottery analysis to build on research related to Chaco society and culture.

“I am thrilled to partner with Crow Canyon and look forward to getting my hands dirty with archaeologists at the Research Institute. The more we learn about the Chaco system, the more questions we have about their complex and fascinating society,” said Dr. Michelle Turner, incoming postdoctoral scholar at the Research Institute at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. “It’s a powerful experience studying and holding a piece of pottery more than 1,000 years old — it’s incredible how much these artifacts can teach us. I look forward to researching these unique Chaco great houses. I’m also passionate about Crow Canyon’s mission educating and connecting the community — and inspiring the next generation of archaeologists and cultural anthropologists. I was an intern at Crow Canyon when I was first starting out in Southwestern archaeology, and I am filled with gratitude and excitement to return to the Cortez area.”

“Dr. Turner is at the forefront of archaeological research on Aztec Ruins and the greater Chacoan system. We can’t wait to partner with her to uncover the mysteries of the Chacoan story. Dr. Turner is tackling deep questions about the development and stability of Chacoan communities that could even help us understand issues facing today’s society related to the environment and climate change,” said Dr. Kyle Bocinsky, Director of the Research Institute at Crow Canyon.

The postdoctoral program at Crow Canyon is funded for two years through current endowments. Dr. Turner will be part of the Research Institute at Crow Canyon, and will be mentored by Dr. Kari Schleher, Crow Canyon Archaeological Lab Manager. Stay updated on Dr. Turner’s research alongside her growing Twitter following @Chaco\Arch, and by following Crow Canyon @Crow\Canyon.

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.

News from Crow Canyon: Our New Laboratory Manager and Grant Funding

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center is pleased to announce Dr. Ben Bellorado as our new Laboratory Manager!

Ben is a familiar face on Crow Canyon’s campus. He was our Florence C. and Robert H. Lister Fellow in 2018, served as a Cultural Explorations scholar, and worked as a Lab Educator. Ben also helped start the Pueblo Farming Project.

Ben’s specialties include dendroarchaeology, perishable and textile analyses, ceramic analyses, cross-media stylistic analyses, ethnography, and experimental archaeology.

He recently earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona. Ben’s dissertation research focused on the ways that ancestral Pueblo people visually expressed aspects of social identity, group membership, and social position during the Chaco and post-Chaco periods through the study of clothing and clothing imagery.

Ben earned his M.A. from Northern Arizona University in 2007 and his B.A. from Fort Lewis College in 2002.

Welcome back, Ben!

New Grant Funding for Research and Education Initiatives and Weekly Webinar Series

Crow Canyon was recently awarded several grants in support of our emerging research and education initiatives and our popular, new webinar series.

Two competitive federal grants totaling more than $55,000 were awarded to the Research Institute at Crow Canyon and will provide funding for the COVID-19 Rapid Response Toolkit for Tribal Extension and the Teaching Native Waters project.

Crow Canyon was also awarded $5,200 in CARES Act support from Colorado Humanities and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The support will help us continue offering our popular new weekly webinar series.

You can read more about these grant-supported projects in the Durango Herald.

Read the Crow Canyon e-blast online by clicking here.

Crow Canyon Welcomes New Field Archaeologist Tim Wilcox

There will be a new face out at the Haynie site this year, as the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center welcomes Tim Wilcox as a Field Archaeologist.

Tim is a Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University with 30 years of experience in Southwest archaeology working for organizations like the Navajo Nation Archaeology Department, Desert Archaeology Inc., and Stanford University Heritage Services. He also served as a ceramic specialist consultant for the Eiteljorg Museum of the West and the Poeh Center in New Mexico.

At Stanford, Tim is in the process of completing his dissertation on proto-historic and Pueblo Revolt era pottery with a focus on group social dynamics and technology of style. He is also an accomplished replica potter (Pueblo and Diné pottery), flintknapper, weaver, and hide tanner.

Tim, who is Diné and Tewa (Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo), also has extensive experience with tribal consultation, community engagement, and agency partnerships.

“Tim brings a wealth of field and research experience to Crow Canyon,” says Susan Ryan, Ph.D., Director of Archaeology at Crow Canyon. “Our Archaeology Research Program participants are going to enjoy working with Tim at the Haynie site.”

For more information on how you can work alongside Tim and the rest of our archaeology staff on the Northern Chaco Outliers Project at the Haynie site—a significant ancestral Pueblo village located northeast of Cortez—call 800.422.8975, ext. 451.