Thursday, June 11, 2009

Major Law Enforcement Action Against Southwestern Looters

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

- Major Law Enforcement Action Against Looters in the Four Corners Area: Ken Salazar, Secretary of the Interior, issued a statement: “Let this case serve notice to anyone who is considering breaking these laws and trampling our nation's cultural heritage that the BLM, the Department of Justice and the federal government will track you down and bring you to justice.” - Los Angeles Times

- Undercover Agent Purchased Wide Range of Antiquities Stolen from Public Lands: For two years, someone close to a large network of archaeological looters in southeastern Utah was wired with an audio-visual recorder when buying ancient baby blankets, stone pipes, seed jars, digging sticks, pots, even a pre-Columbian menstrual pad. This "Source," as he or she is identified in a search warrant affidavit unsealed Wednesday, is an insider who worked with U.S. Bureau of Land Management and FBI special agents to nab two dozen suspects in the theft and sale of more than 250 American Indian artifacts from the Four Corners area.

- Arrests Part of Effort to End Years of Looting: While the criminal prosecution of 24 defendants nabbed in an operation dubbed "Cerberus Action" has just begun, the looting of treasures held sacred by Utah's earliest inhabitants has been going on for years. - Deseret News

- Navajo Tribal Leaders Express Dismay Over Supreme Court Decision on San Francisco Peaks: Navajo Nation Council Speaker Lawrence T. Morgan is disappointed with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to hear an appeal of a case that would protect the sacred Dook’o’ooslid, or San Francisco Peaks from further development and the use of reclaimed waste water to make artificial snow.

- National Park Service Exploring the Concept of Commemorating the Navajo Long Walk: Should the trail be commemorated given it is such a painful piece of the Navajo past? Those will be some of the issues discussed when the National Park Service hosts a series of open houses on the reservation in the coming weeks.

- Papago Park Master Plan Workshop to be Held on June 15th: The Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community and the cities of Phoenix, Tempe and Scottsdale are conducting a public planning process to develop a vision and series of recommendations to guide the future of Papago Park. This Regional Master Plan will address natural, cultural, historic and archaeological resources as well as outdoor recreation, educational and interpretive programs, restoration of natural ecosystems, and the type and scope of park-related facilities and infrastructure. Cultural sites include Loma del Rio, a late Classic period Hohokam pueblo; Hole in the Rock, a probable archaeo-astronomical site that is also a Traditional Cultural Property; and many historic features dating from the early 1900s, including the National Register-listed Webster Auditorium and picnic/recreational facilities constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The next public workshop is in Tempe on Monday, June 15th, with both an morning and an evening session at different locations. See the project’s website,, for more information or to provide online comments; or call the project hotline at (602) 391-6800.

- The Strange Story of Geronimo's Remains: As with other great Western figures—Billy the Kid, Custer, Wyatt, Hickok—Geronimo's death wasn't an end, but a beginning. He's too much fun to say goodbye to, and far too useful. The question now is whether his skull and two femurs sit inside a spooky gothic stone building known as the Tomb, on High Street in New Haven, Conn. It has long been rumored that several Yale students—among them Prescott Bush, father of former President George Herbert Walker Bush and grandfather of former President George W. Bush—dug up Geronimo's remains in 1918 while taking artillery training at Fort Sill. - Tucson Weekly

- Monument to the "Colorful Character" Who Founded Phoenix has been Missing for Six Years: In 2003, a resident of the city Swilling helped establish plowed off the asphalt street and smacked into the marker that was placed on the sidewalk near a bus station. Ferguson was watching television news on the morning following the accident and saw that the marker had been hit. But he figured it would be restored and set up again. It never was. He got curious and started making phone calls. He found Officer Terry Sills, who is the department's traffic complaint coordinator. Sills was able to get the report and give details to Ferguson. It happened on Dec. 14, 2003, at 11:55 p.m. According to the report, a clean-up crew took the damaged monument to a service yard in east Phoenix. "Then it disappeared," Sills said. - Arizona Republic

- Tonight's Meeting of the Pacific Coast Archaeology Society will Feature Presentation on Puebloan Pottery: Pacific Coast Archaeological Society's June 11th meeting will feature Dr. John E. Collins speaking on "Introduction to Southwest Pueblo Indian Pottery." Meeting information: Thursday, June 11, 2009, 7:30 pm at the Irvine Ranch Water District, 15600 Sand Canyon Ave., Irvine, CA. Meeting is free and open to the public.

- Lecture Opportunity - Tucson: Monday, June 15, 7:30 pm DuVal Auditorium, 1501 N Campbell Ave. Preservation Archaeologist Dr. Jeffrey Clark, from the Center for Desert Archaeology, will present the monthly Arizona Archaeological and Historical Society Lecture. His talk is entitled "Mounds and Migrants: New Prospectives on the Hohokam
Collapse. The lecture is free and open to the public.

- Lecture Opportunity - El Paso: On June 18th, at 7:30 Pm, Dr. William H. Walker will speak at the El Paso Museum of Archeology, 4301 Transmountain Road. Dr. Walker’s talk will explore the links between cultural conceptions of the natural world and their influence on responses to climate change in ancient southwest New Mexico. He will argue that natural forces (wind, ice, rain, sun) would have been personified as animate beings. Therefore, changes in climate such as the medieval warm period A.D. (1000-1150) and the Little Ice Age (1400-1850) would have been perceived by the ancients as the results of changing actions of animate beings. Understanding such perceptions is key to understanding changes in material culture including pottery styles and architecture.

- National Association of Tribal Historic Preservation Officers to Offer Artifact Conservation Workshop, July 12-17: Caring for the art, culture and archaeological materials of our past and present is not as simple as putting materials on a shelf in a secure room. Aging is the result of nine agents of deterioration acting on all materials to make them fall apart. Caretakers can reduce and eliminate aging by understanding how each of these agents operates and how to stop them. Students will have hands on experience with museum monitoring equipment and techniques. Students will then examine specific materials - buckskin, beadwork, rawhide, basketry, ceramics, stone and metal are some - and learn about how they are affected by the agents and how damage can be mitigated. Lab time includes practice in examination and cleaning. Students learn how to determine what can be done by them and what requires a professional conservator. Class lectures will be supplemented with lots of lab and hands-on opportunities.

Thanks to Tom Wright and Gerald Kelso for contributions to today's newsletter.