Monday, October 27, 2008

Breast Cancer Gene Tracks Spanish Crypto-Jews in New World, Rio Nuevo Audit.

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

- Genetic Mutation Linked to Breast Cancer Also Tracks Spanish Crypto-Jews in the New World: Some people in the valley were reluctant to confront such questions, at least initially, and a handful even rejected the overtures of physicians, scientists and historians who were suddenly interested in their family histories. But rumors of secret Spanish Jewry had floated around northern New Mexico and the San Luis Valley for years, and now the cold hard facts of DNA appeared to support them. As a result, families in this remote high-desert community have had to come to grips with a kind of knowledge that more and more of us are likely to face. For the story of this wayward gene is the story of modern genetics, a science that increasingly has the power both to predict the future and to illuminate the past in unsettling ways.

- Financial Audit of Tucson's Stalled Rio Nuevo Project: They promised buildings — hotels, an aquarium and museums. Nine years later, Downtown Tucson has two refurbished movie theaters, a re-creation of the Presidio wall and a wider freeway underpass. A comprehensive Star analysis of the $63 million in taxpayer dollars paid to outside vendors since voters approved Rio Nuevo in 1999 shows that much of the money has been spent to plan projects that stalled. It also went to pay for things that while not prohibited, are not what excited voters about Rio Nuevo. That includes paying to sponsor events with loose ties to Downtown development and on public relations to promote Rio Nuevo to an increasingly impatient population.

- Black Mesa and Peabody Coal Proposals Impact Hopi Tribal Politics: A push to approve a Peabody Western Coal Co. project in northern Arizona may be dividing the Hopi Tribal Council and fueling an attempted ouster of the tribal chairman. “They have suspended my authority and one of the principal reasons is they want to ramrod the [Black Mesa project] EIS [environmental impact statement] through,” said Ben Nuvamsa, who asserted Oct. 17 that he plans to file a motion to quash an arrest warrant issued by a tribal judge over his contested chairmanship.

- Visiting Palatki: It is Friday afternoon, and a slow, steady stream of visitors makes its way to Palatki Ruin. By the end of the day, 79 people will have visited. Only 10 of them will be Arizonans. That's typical. "Yesterday we only had two visitors from Arizona," said Bud Vancura, a volunteer at the site, about 8 miles southwest of Sedona. Pity. Palatki Red Cliffs Heritage Site is a nice place to explore when the sun is out and the weather is nice. It might be even better on a stormy day. - The Arizona Republic

- Reduced Hours, Free Admission at Anasazi Heritage Center: The Bureau of Land Management’s Anasazi Heritage Center will adapt to the changing season with a slight reduction in museum hours, and the suspension of all entry fees through the coming months. Beginning November 1st and continuing through February 2009, the museum
will remain open seven days a week from 10:00 a.m. though 4:00 p.m. It will close only on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. The regular $3 adult admission will not be charged until March 1. Minors and nonprofit educational groups are never charged.

- Exhibit Examines Five Generations of Apache Life: An exhibit celebrating the cultural survival of an Apache family will be unveiled today at the Oklahoma History Center, 2401 N Laird Ave. Spanning five generations of the Houser/Haozous family, the exhibit examines war, incarceration and attempted cultural genocide along with family survival, personal expression and the strength of the family. - The Oklahoman

- Fort Hood Archaeology Fair Shares Research With Texas Families: The fair offered several opportunities for the community to get involved. Crafts involving beaded jewelry, rock art and the opportunity to grind dried corn for corn meal in traditional Native American fashion brought smiles to visitors' faces, said Heidi Fuller, the Fort Hood archaeologist who organized the event.

- Meadowcroft Rock Shelter Becoming Heritage Tourism Destination: Meadowcroft is a word very familiar to archaeologists and less to tourists. But that could be changing. The world-famous Meadowcroft Rockshelter, a rock overhang southwest of Pittsburgh, has reshaped thought on what prehistoric people first came to North America and when. Now the cave is striving to become a bigger tourist draw. Improvements costing $1.3 million include a wooden roof that better protects the archaeological site and a wooden deck that improves accessibility for visitors.

- Call for Abstracts, Society for Applied Anthropology: Program Chair Jeanne Simonelli announced today that the deadline for submitting abstracts for the Program of the 2009 Annual Meeting (Santa Fe, NM) had been extended to November 3rd. Prof. Simonelli has taken this action in response to the many requests that she has received from members who have been until recently in the field. This extension will provide additional time for those members who have not yet submitted an abstract. Prof. Simonelli also announced that there would be an expanded and innovative set of poster sessions at the Santa Fe Meetings. A spacious venue for the poster session has been identified and the Program Committee is giving consideration to holding two sessions (on Thursday and Friday). To register and submit abstracts, use the link below.

- Museum Association of Arizona Seeks Help Planning Annual Meeting: The following message sent on behalf of Ryan Flahive at Sharlot Hall Museum. Please contact him directly for more information. - Dear Friends: I am trying to organize an affinity session for archivists that work in museums at the Museum Association of Arizona (MAA) annual meeting in Bisbee. The MAA conference will take place May 13th - May 16th, 2009. The theme of the meeting is Mining for Change: Transforming Our Museums. I am looking for session participants who will help museum archivists explore how museum archives can move confidently into the coming decades through transformation in: new technology, fresh ways of conveying knowledge, increased accessibility to our collections, interdisciplinary collaboration and enhanced methods for connecting to our users. This is part of a new initiative by the Friends of Arizona Archives (FAzA) to more fully involve professional archivists with its statewide organization. The affinity session will give those of us that work in museums a chance to compare notes, get to know each other, and forge relationships that will improve our working conditions and help us assist our customers better. I am looking for three or four folks that would be willing to help me get this process started. If you can help, please contact me Ryan S. Flahive at (928) 445-3122 x.15 or

- Lecture Opportunity, Archaeology of Polynesia Presented at Cochise College, Sierra Vista AZ: Over the years, the distant pasts of Polynesia - from the Hawaiian archipelago to the remote outpost of Rapa Nui - have become better understood by scholars as well as better appreciated by society at large. As archaeological research continues across the Pacific today, this talk will discuss how new light is being shed on central themes - and also revealing significant new details - of how humans reached across one of the globe's most wild expanses: Oceania. - MS Word Document

- Ability to Use Fire Key to Early Hominid Migrations Out of Africa: The ability to make fire millennia ago was likely a key factor in the migration of prehistoric hominids from Africa into Eurasia, a researcher at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem's Institute of Archaeology believes on the basis of findings at the Gesher Benot Ya'aqov archaeological site in Israel.

Thanks to Brian Kenny for contributions to today's newsletter.