Friday, May 9, 2008

New Mexico BLM Sabotages Preservation Law, Pottery Project at Arizona State Museum

Southwestern Archaeology Making the News - A Service of the Center for Desert Archaeology

- New Mexico BLM Turns Preservation Law Inside Out; Gives Oil and Gas Developers Options to Fund Excavations on Known Sites Rather than Archaeological Survey to Assess Potential Impacts: Under the new agreement, oil and gas developers who participate in the voluntary program will not have to pay for a survey but they will be required to pay a special fee that will go toward excavation and other research. The BLM expects to raise about $1 million a year. Much of the area has been surveyed over the years. In fact, nearly 12,000 surveys have been done and officials are confident that more than 70 percent of the cultural sites in the area have been recorded. Fosberg said the agency has been very good at documenting these sites and avoiding them during oil and gas development. However, not much is known about the sites themselves, making it difficult for the agency to manage them accordingly.

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- The Pottery Project Debuts this Saturday at the Arizona State Museum: On May 10, 2008 Arizona State Museum is opening its newest exhibition, The Pottery Project. At some 20,000 whole vessels, ASM’s collection of Southwest Indian pottery is the world’s largest and most comprehensively documented. Museum patrons will be able to explore a prototype of the Virtual Vault, a digital artifact browser under development by the Center for Desert Archaeology. Arizona State Museum’s public celebration for The Pottery Project is Saturday, May 10, 2008 from 1–4 p.m. In addition to guided tours through the exhibit and conservation laboratory, there will be hands-on pottery-making activities and demonstrations by Native potters. Free and open to the public. Free garage parking at Euclid/Second and Tyndall/Fourth.

- Debate on North American Pleistocene Comet Impact Continues: Stuart Fiedel from the Louis Berger Group, a private archaeological firm in Richmond, Virginia, argued that the theory fails to address some major questions—like how comet blasts could have wiped out woolly mammoths and saber-toothed cats in North America, while leaving humans unscathed. "If this [impact] was powerful enough to fricassee mammoths and mastodons and short-faced bears and other big fauna that were on the landscape, you would think that it would have decimated the human population as well—not only by direct thermal shock but by wiping out much of their food source," said Fiedel, who presented his criticisms of the theory to a packed crowd.

- Dating on Organic Remains Confirms Pre-Clovis Occupations in North and South America: Remains of meals that included seaweed are helping confirm the date of a settlement in southern Chile that may offer the earliest evidence of humans in the Americas. Researchers date the seaweed found at Monte Verde to more than 14,000 years ago, 1,000 years earlier than the well-studied Clovis culture.

- Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument Starts Public Planning Process: The National Park Service is undertaking a planning effort for the future of Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument. The monument does not currently have a general management plan and a planning team has been formed to develop one with the input of other agencies, organizations, and the public. The planning effort is in the start-up or “scoping” phase of the project. The goal of this phase is to initiate public outreach as well as gather information on the resources and the socioeconomic environment of the monument. A public meeting will be held at the Silco Theater, 311 Bullard Street in Silver City, New Mexico, on Monday, June 2, at 7:00 pm. National Park Service representatives will explain the planning process and record the comments and ideas presented by participants.

- Peabody Coal, Black Mesa and Vanishing Navaho Heritage: Big Mountain, an area near Black Mesa, Ariz., used to be a place of peace and tradition, but now the land is being destroyed by the Peabody Coal Company, said Allen Cooper, a former member of the Big Mountain Support Committee. Cooper said the Navajo land has no electricity or water, and the people there provide for themselves. The land also happens to be extremely rich in strippable coal. Bahe Katenay, spokeswoman for the tribe, said people of Big Mountain have lost part of their simple traditions and culture. The way of life on the mountain has changed because the effect of having a coal-mining operation near the land has left a large portion industrialized. New Mexico Daily Lobo