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 Archaeologist Examines Relationship Between Meat and Social Organization

A new paper co-authored by the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center’s Director of Archaeology, Susan Ryan, Ph.D., takes a closer look at meat and how it’s availability and consumption relates to social organization in ancestral Pueblo communities.

“Desirable Meat: The Social Context of Meat Procurement at Albert Porter Pueblo, a Great House Community in the Central Mesa Verde Region” was written by Ryan, Director of Archaeology at Crow Canyon, along with lead author Shaw Badenhorst, Ph.D., Senior Researcher at the University of Witwatersrand in South Africa, and Jon Driver, Ph.D., Vice President and Provost of Simon Fraser University in British Columbia and Crow Canyon Research Associate.

The paper, published by Kiva—Journal of Southwestern Anthropology and History, examines wild game and turkey remains found at Albert Porter Pueblo, an ancestral Pueblo village located in Southwest Colorado near the modern-day town of Yellow Jacket. The nearly 12-acre site, owned by The Archaeological Conservancy, was the location of testing and excavation by Crow Canyon archaeologists from 2001–2004.

According to the authors, faunal remains are generally the same between the Albert Porter great house and the surrounding small houses. However, there is evidence that indicates there were more cottontail rabbits and turkeys consumed in the great house compared to domestic structures during the Pueblo III period (A.D. 1150–1280). The paper reports that differences in social rank, wealth, or control of ritual and ceremonial practice can be expressed through the privileged access to the consumption (or avoidance) of certain animals in complex social organizations.

The authors explore the different possible interpretations of social organization suggested by the faunal remains uncovered by excavations at the site.

The paper is available to download Badenhorst et al. 2019.

For more information on how you can work with Susan and the rest of our incredible archaeology staff on Crow Canyon’s current research project—the Northern Chaco Outliers Project at the Haynie site, click here or call 800-422-8975, ext. 451.

Dr. Michelle Turner Bound for the Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut

Join us in congratulating Crow Canyon’s first postdoctoral scholar, Michelle Turner, who recently accepted a position at Mystic Seaport Museum in Connecticut. Michelle has done amazing work at Crow Canyon and her success as a postdoctoral scholar was so influential that we hope to continue the program through the Research Institute. While Dr. Turner has accomplished countless projects during her time at Crow Canyon, we would like to highlight a few of her accomplishments.

– Published work on Amaranth in the American Antiquity publication.

– Contributed to our understanding of Mancos Black-on-white pottery — the main decorated whiteware during the Chaco period.

– Developed a new lesson on archaeological dating methods (other than dendrochronology) and updated the lesson on ornaments.

– Taught National Endowment for the Humanities teachers about whole vessel analysis.

– Analyzed ornaments from the Wallace great house and the nearby Greenstone Pueblo with Dr. Kari Schleher.

We are incredibly honored to have had Michelle as our first postdoctoral scholar. We wish her all the best in her new position and hope that she will come back and visit us sometime soon! Thank you for all that you have done Dr. Turner!

Farewell to William D. Lipe Chair of Research Dr. Kyle Bocinsky!

The Research Institute at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, led by Executive Vice President Dr. Mark D. Varien, is honored to announce that our first William D. Lipe Chair of Research, Dr. Kyle Bocinsky, has accepted a position at the University of Montana as the new Director of Climate Extension in the W.A. Franke College of Forestry and Conservation. He will be departing Crow Canyon’s Research Institute in February after serving as Director and assisting in the development of projects and programs since 2015.

Dr. Bocinsky worked closely with Crow Canyon researchers since starting as a graduate student at Washington State University in 2008. His archaeological research focuses on human-environment relationships in the past and climate change impacts on ancestral Pueblo farming communities. As a graduate student, he worked on the Village Ecodynamics Project and interned with the Basketmaker Communities Project. In 2017, Dr. Bocinsky was named the first William D. Lipe Chair of Research and Director of the Research Institute.

“Kyle contributed enormously to the development and success of the Research Institute at Crow Canyon,” said Dr. Varien. “We are so proud to be a part of his professional success and are thrilled to continue to work with him as an associate and colleague in his new role.”

The focus of Dr. Bocinsky’s research has gradually shifted to working with contemporary communities to develop climate resilience. His new role in Montana will be to make climate data and information more useful and usable for people living in Montana and the Northern Rockies. He will be a primary liaison with constituencies ranging from Tribal governments and colleges to agricultural producers and the outdoor recreation industry. He will continue doing research broadly around the dynamics of socio-ecological systems.

“This will be an exciting opportunity not only to develop my passions for research on climate and society, but also to be more present in my community in western Montana,” Dr. Bocinsky said of his new position.

Since 2017, Dr. Bocinsky has been regularly commuting to Cortez from Missoula, Montana, where he lives with his husband John and their family. He will continue to collaborate closely with Crow Canyon researchers as a Crow Canyon Research Associate.

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.

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.

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!

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.