Friday, July 25, 2008

Genetic Evidence on the Peopling of the Americas, Bill Before Congress would Support the NPS, and a Review of Thomas Sheridan's "Landscapes of Fraud."

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

- DNA points to Pre-Clovis Migrations into North and South America: After years of spirited debate over how and when people first reached the Americas, scientists finally seem poised to reach agreement. The emerging consensus: In contrast to what was long held as conventional wisdom, it now seems likely that the first Americans did not wait for ice sheets covering Canada to melt some 13,000 years ago, which would have allowed them to traipse south over solid ground. Instead, early nomads might well have traveled by boat or at least along the coast from Siberia to North America, perhaps navigating arctic waters near today's Bering Strait. The telltale evidence: ancient DNA from those early people that's been coaxed, by powerful analytical technology, into revealing its secret. - US News and World Report

- Mountain Bikers Ask You to Contact Your Representatives to Support our National Parks: The House of Representatives is preparing to vote on this bill and your voice is needed to make sure H.R. 3094 passes. At stake is a much-needed financial infusion in the National Park Service (NPS) that will enhance some of America's most treasured landscapes in time for the agency's 100th anniversary in 2016. H.R. 3094 is strongly supported by IMBA and a coalition of other conservation and recreation organizations.
Take Action! Time is running out. Ask your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 3094, the National Park Centennial Fund Act.

- Reception for National Trust for Historic Preservation Representatives in Phoenix: On July 29, come meet Kathy Adams and Lori Feinman of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the historic Ellis-Shackelford House, 1242 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. Kathy and Lori will be in town on July 28-29 to tour convention facilities and representative historic sites and neighborhoods in the Valley. Phoenix is one of the two finalists to host the 2012 National Preservation Conference. Please RSVP to Jim McPherson:

- First Lady Announces New Preserve America Program: At the Preserve America Presidential Awards ceremony today, Mrs. Laura Bush, First Lady and Honorary Chair of Preserve America, announced the initiation of a new program: Preserve America Stewards, which will honor exemplary volunteer efforts at historic resources around the country. In Mrs. Bush’s announcement, she noted the program will recognize programs at the state, tribal, local, or regional level that have demonstrated a successful use of volunteer time and commitment in order to help care for our cultural heritage. Potential Preserve America Stewards programs apply to be recognized at the national level using an application form and guidance materials made available through the Preserve America Web site (

- Book Review: Thomas Sheridan's "Landscapes of Fraud: Mission Tumacácori, the Baca Float, and the Betrayal of the O'odham:" Government and banks have long colluded in wreaking havoc in the financial and real-estate markets--and among native peoples. And never has that collusion been so perfectly and depressingly detailed as in Thomas Sheridan's fascinating Landscapes of Fraud: Mission Tumacácori, the Baca Float, and the Betrayal of the O'odham. Not quite a historical page-turner à la Nicholson Baker's recent Human Smoke (a revisionist take on World War II as a senseless conflict), Sheridan's history is still pretty darn readable.

- Underwater Archaeological Studies of a Confederate Gunboat is the Latest Topic for the Archaeology Channel: On June 3, 1864, a boat force of the Confederate Navy during a daring raid captured the side-wheel steamer USS Water Witch and its crew of 65. The Confederate Navy later that year scuttled the ship in Georgia’s Vernon River to prevent its recapture. This video documents the ship’s rediscovery by remote sensing during an archaeological survey by the Georgia Department of Transportation preparatory to bridge construction. Significant underwater discoveries excite everyone, including both the professionals and the public. Water Witch: Traversing the Seas of History, the latest video feature on our nonprofit streaming-media Web site, The Archaeology Channel.

- Underwater Expedition to Study Submerged Potential Clovis Sites: C. Andrew Hemmings, research associate of the Texas Archaeological Research Laboratory (TARL) at The University of Texas at Austin, will lead an underwater archaeological expedition in the Gulf of Mexico to search for submerged evidence of the first Americans. Hemmings and James Adovasio, director of the Mercyhurst College Archaeological Institute in Erie, Pa., who serves as co-principal investigator of the project, will study ancient submerged coastlines in the northeastern Gulf to determine where early Americans, known as the Clovis culture, might have lived more than 12,000 years ago when the underwater terrain was dry land.

Thanks to Cherie Freeman, Melinda St Claire, and Terry Colvin for contributions to today's newsletter.