Monday, June 15, 2009

Political Fallout from Federal Pothunting Raids

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

- Utah Senators Call Pothunting Raids "Overkill" Utah's U.S. senators say they want Congress to investigate the actions of federal agents who arrested two dozen people for the theft of ancient artifacts stolen from public and tribal lands in the Four Corners area. Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett, both Republicans, told the Deseret News of Salt Lake City that the raid was overkill. The two made the comments during interviews at the state's GOP convention on Saturday. - Santa Fe New Mexican

- Suicide of Man Accused in Federal Looting Raid Compounds Political Backlash in Southern Utah: The few state GOP delegates from southeastern Utah who drove for hours up to north Davis County for the convention also had hard feelings. "It was Gestapo tactics," said Larry Sorrell, a rancher from San Juan County. After being arrested and charged with the federal crime of illegally taking an Indian artifact from federal land, local physician James Redd apparently killed himself Thursday night.,5143,705310375,00.html

- Many Suspects Accused of Looting Have Criminal Records Including Convictions Tied to Methamphetamine Trade: Court records indicate many of those charged Wednesday with stealing and trafficking in Native American artifacts aren't strangers to accusations of theft, or the type of drug-related offenses that some speculate may be driving the black-market operation.

- List of Charges in Federal Raids:

- One Native Perspective Supports Antiquities Law Enforcement: It's just 25 miles from Blanding to this lovely town on the banks of the San Juan River. But the thinking here about a two-year federal sting operation on alleged traffickers in Native American antiquities is a world away. In Blanding, residents are furious that federal authorities have indicted two dozen people, most of them townspeople, on charges they trafficked in archeological artifacts. But in the hamlet of Bluff, just north of the Navajo Nation, people think the authorities did the right thing.

- Despite Recent Law Enforcement Efforts, the Trade in Looted and Sacred Objects Continues Unabated: Shannon Keller O’Loughlin has a unique job. As part of her work as tribal attorney for the Onondaga Nation, she monitors e-Bay and other Web sites of places that might harbor and trade in sacred items that rightfully belong to Indian nations. “It’s amazing the kinds of things they continue to sell, not just from North American Indian cultures, but from all around the world. To Sotheby’s and some of these other big auction houses, they’re just commodities,” said O’Loughlin, Choctaw of Oklahoma. She not only monitors the whereabouts of sacred objects, but also tries to get them back to their rightful owners.

- Archaeology Southwest Covers Recent Findings on the Early Agricultural Period: The most recent issue of the Center for Desert Archaeology’s quarterly magazine, Archaeology Southwest, is devoted to “The Latest Research on the Earliest Farmers.” It was guest edited by Sarah A. Herr of Desert Archaeology, Inc., and it summarizes presentations made in August 2008 at an Early Agriculture Advanced seminar held at the Colton House at the Museum of Northern Arizona in conjunction with the Pecos Conference. For an online preview, follow the link below.. Copies of this 20-page, full color issue that initiates the second decade of Archaeology Southwest can be purchased for $3.00 from the Center for Desert Archaeology. There are two, online supplemental articles that have been posted recently on the Center website. The first is a commentary on these published articles written by Zuni traditional farmer Jim Enote, titled “Indigenous Views of Research on Traditional Farming” ( The second article is a brief discussion and a series of distribution maps compiled by Desert Archaeology, Inc. flaked stone analyst R. Jane Sliva titled “Common Middle Archaic and Early Agricultural Period Points in Southern Arizona” ( These supplements are valuable additions to this issue of Archaeology Southwest and are free downloads.

- Hopi Students Embark on Museum Studies Tour of Washington DC as Part of Innovative NAU Anthropology Program: A group of Hopi youth and elders who are part of a Northern Arizona University anthropology project are heading to Washington, D.C., to learn ways to preserve their culture. Sixteen Hopi teens, along with five Hopi elders and project staff, will conduct cultural preservation activities at the National Museum of the American Indian and the National Museum of Natural History from June 15-19 as part of the "Footprints of Ancestors" project. - Northern Arizona University

- Excellent Video Presentation on Katsina Iconography from the Arizona State Museum and Arizona Public Media: Diane Dittemore, ASM curator of ethnographic collections, is featured on an Arizona Illustrated segment, discussing the State Museum's "Circles of Life" exhibition.

- The Santa Rita Hotel is a Threatened Tucson Treasure. The Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation has asked the City of Tucson and Tucson Electric Power (TEP) to work together to come up with a solution that preserves and restores the 1917 wing of the historic Santa Rita Hotel AND brings the corporate headquarters of TEP to downtown. There has been a long term consensus on the important role of historic preservation in downtown revitalization. In 1999, Luis Gutierrez, then Tucson’s City Manager, spearheaded a drive to celebrate Tucson’s “culture, history, and traditions” as the cornerstone of urban revitalization. And Tucson’s current Mayor and City Council say of the Congress District where the Santa Rita Hotel is located: “The eclectic collection of historic properties, theatres, live music, clubs, restaurants, boutique and specialty retail, moderate-density residential infill and the lively arts on Scott make up Downtown Tucson’s world-class entertainment district.” The Santa Rita Hotel can blend the past and the future and contribute to the economic revitalization of Tucson’s downtown. The Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation has recently posted historical background about the Santa Rita Hotel on its website. Follow the link below to see what actions you can take to promote preservation of this Tucson treasure.

- Interior Secretary Ken Salazar Defends Booting Oil Companies From National Park Boundaries: Bush administration officials pushed aside the National Park Service and sought to lease public lands for drilling on the borders of Utah's most famous redrock parks during their final days in power, a special report to Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar says. Salazar was condemned by the oil industry for scrapping 77 of the leases weeks after taking office, but all of the drilling parcels had already been delayed by a federal lawsuit that still hasn't been resolved. Salazar defended his decision in a telephone interview Thursday, saying that leasing parcels on or near borders of national parks is highly unusual. - Associated Press

- Mesquite, Part of a Sonoran Way of Life: The pods, when chewed, served as a primitive candy bar of the desert. And the mesquite groves, themselves, pointed people to good sources of ground water. Mesquites were so important, in fact, that the Pima Indians named two months in their calendar for their life cycle, according to the book “Food Plants of the Sonoran Desert” by Wendy Hodgson. The months are “mesquite leaves moon” and “mesquite flowers moon.” The Pima also recognized five stages of the plant’s life cycle — from its leafing-out state to the time when its fruits are ready for harvest. - SW Explorer

- INAH Creates 3d Virtual Reality Models of Teotihuacan: As result of an agreement signed in 2007, the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM), through Aragon Faculty of Superior Studies (FES Aragon) handed over 600 files that contain virtual reality 3 dimensional models, virtual tours and images of Teotihuacan Archaeological Zone. Lilia Turcott Gonzalez, Director of FES Aragon, handed the material to Alfonso de Maria y Campos, general director of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), at the National Museum of Anthropology.

- Lecture Reminder (Tucson): Monday - June 15th, "Mounds and Migrants: New Perspectives on the Hohokam Collapse" presented by Preservation Archaeologist Jeffrey Clark from the Center for Desert Archaeology, 7:30 pm DuVal Auditorium University Medical Center, 1501 N. Campbell Ave.

- Lecture Opportunity (Tucson): Thursday June 18, 2009, Old Pueblo Archaeology Center's "Third Thursdays" free presentation: "Silverbell Coachline, an Early Hohokam Archaeological Site of the Northern Tucson Basin," with archaeologist Eric Eugene Klucas (Tierra Right of Way Ltd.), at Old Pueblo Archaeology Center, 2201 W. 44th Street, Tucson (in Tucson Unified School District's Ajo Service Center, just west of La Cholla Blvd., ½-mile north of John F. Kennedy Park).7:30 to 9 p.m. Free. No reservations needed. 520-798-1201 or

- Travelogue - Navajo National Monument: The Betatakin Navajo National Monument (sic) sits beneath the Shonto Plateau at Tsegi Canyon and is dedicated to the preservation of the ancient cliff dwellings of the Anasazi or, as they are now termed, the Ancestral Puebloan people. The Betatakin dwellings, Betatakin literally means “Ledge House,” are nestled within a 450 foot high pink sandstone niche that overlooks an ancient Aspen forest. The 760 year old, 135-room pueblo ancestral home of the Hopi Deer, Fire, Flute and Water clans is remarkably well preserved. There is a free five mile ranger guided tour that departs each morning to the ruins. It is a strenuous 3-5 hour hike that begins at 7,300 feet and involves a 700 foot descent from the plateau into the canyon, and back again! You are allowed to enter Betatakin at your own risk. There is also a 17 mile hike (roundtrip) to the dwellings at Keet Seel. - Phoenix Examiner

- Travelogue - Tuzigoot National Monument: Tuzigoot, meaning "crooked waters," grew into a stone pueblo of two and three stories with a complex of 110 rooms housing about 250 people. It is representative of one type of village constructed by the Sinagua, "People without Water," who prospered in the region for about 400 years. At least 50 ruined villages dot the area along the Verde River and its tributary streams, most within an hour's drive of Tuzigoot National Monument.

Thanks to Michael Mauer, Gerald Kelso, and Adriane Rankin for contributions to today's newsletter.