Monday, February 2, 2009

Budget Cuts Threaten Arizona State Parks, Challenges to Comet Impact Theory, Archaeology Cafe

Southwest Archaeology Today – A Service of the Center for Desert Archaeology

- Arizona State Parks Closures Anticipated: The state will have to close at least five parks—and possibly as many as eight—if lawmakers do not restore the funds being stripped from the agency that operates them, state Parks Director Ken Travous said Friday.

- New Findings Cast Doubt on Comet Impact Theory: New data, published today, disproves the recent theory that a large comet exploded over North America 12,900 years ago, causing a shock wave that travelled at hundreds of kilometres per hour and triggering continent-wide wildfires. Dr Sandy Harrison from the University of Bristol and colleagues tested the theory by examining charcoal and pollen records to assess how fire regimes in North America changed between 15 and 10,000 years ago, a time of large and rapid climate changes.

- In Memoriam, Dr. Trudy Griffin-Pierce: Anthropologist Trudy Griffin-Pierce didn't want to observe the rituals and elaborate spiritual ceremonies of the Navajo: She wanted to live the life of the Diné. Though of Catawba Indian heritage and born in South Carolina, Griffin-Pierce was fascinated from childhood by the Navajo, said her aunt, Pat Wells of Florida. Diné, meaning "The People," is the name Navajos use for themselves.

- Archaeology Café, “The Archaeology of a Historic Tucson Cemetery at the Joint Courts Complex.” Learn what the remains of nineteenth-century Tucsonans--and others whose lives ended in Tucson--reveal about life in this community between 1862 and 1881. Marcy Gray, director of historic programs and project manager for Statistical Research, Inc., will lead a panel of project team members in a discussion of their work on one of the country's largest historic cemetery exhumations. Tuesday, February 3, 6:00 pm, on the patio at Casa Vicente, 375 S. Stone Avenue, Tucson. Free and open to the public; guests are encouraged to support our host, Casa Vicente, by buying their own food and drinks.

- Concern Over Restoration of San Xavier East Tower: Bernard Fontana favors the former perspective, and with good reason: A retired ethnologist, he's spent most of his adult life helping bring San Xavier back from ruin, and only our better selves--in the shape of generous donations--has made that possible. Millions have already been spent in artwork restoration, and the west bell tower has been painstakingly returned to its original, gleaming glory. But now there's a catch: The east tower has yet to be redone, and time is not treating it kindly. Nor is the economy.

- Advocacy Group Sees Opportunity in Stimulus Package: The National Parks Conservation Assn., a nonpartisan parks advocacy group, has testified before Congress that the nation's 391 parks have billions of dollars in "shovel-ready projects," some of them remnants of the system's more than $8.7-billion maintenance backlog. Citing the CCC as a model, the parks group is advocating the development of a National Park Service Corps and estimates that investing stimulus funds in parks would create about 50,000 jobs. The group has studied the economic impact of parks, particularly in rural areas, finding that every dollar spent at a park generates $4 in benefit. - The Los Angeles Times

- Funding for Mesa Grande Interpretive Program: Mesa has secured more than $250,000 to open the ancient temple grounds of the Hohokam tribe within two years, Howard said. The Mesa Grande Interpretive Project would make something previously open to visitors only once a year available every week.

- Papago Park Revival: Authorities in Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale believe the plan could put Papago on par with New York's Central Park or San Francisco's Golden Gate Park. The goals: Promote Papago Park's historical and archaeological assets, explore the grounds for still-uncovered ruins, educate the community about the Valley's Hohokam heritage, and conserve land within the park, turning it into a national center for eco-tourism. - The Arizona Republic

- Alleged Looter Indicted in South Dakota: A Monona man, John M. Sheild, 77, has been indicted in South Dakota on a federal charge of trafficking in archeological resources, accused of violating an archeology law that protects American Indian artifacts. An Associated Press article from South Dakota on Monday said Sheild was one of five men indicted on similar charges.

Thanks to Terry W. Colvin for his contribution to today’s newsletter.