Friday, July 10, 2009

First of Accused Blanding Artifact Thieves Pleads Guilty

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

- First Guilty Plea in Blanding Artifacts Case: Reporting from Denver -- The wife of a southern Utah doctor who killed himself after his arrest on charges of stealing Native American artifacts from public lands pleaded guilty on Monday to similar charges. As part of a plea agreement, Jeanne Redd, 59, pleaded guilty to seven counts of theft of government and tribal property and trafficking in stolen artifacts. Federal prosecutors agreed to seek a lesser penalty at her September sentencing than the maximum 10 years in prison provided for under the charges. - Los Angeles Times

- Introducing the "Twiggers," A Five Part Series Examines the Link Between Looting in the Southwest and the Methamphetamine Trade: The following conversation was once caught on an undercover wiretap. “Have you ever dug at Mesa Verde Park?” “No, that’s my bank for the future.” Site looter. Grave robber. Privy pillager. Twigger. Strong words describing something many perceive as little more than picking up a stray pot or stone for extra income. One person claims it’s how he pays the increasingly high college tuition costs for his children. Others say it’s how they’re surviving the economic downturn. Some shrug, wondering why there’s such a fuss as it’s been a family tradition for generations. -

- People are Still Upset in Blanding: This small Four Corners community prides itself on being a law-abiding, church and family-oriented, patriotic throwback to more innocent times. So the Fourth of July is a gala of parades, prayers and pyrotechnics where sparkling apple cider is the strongest celebratory beverage. But this year, the festivities had an angry edge. Mayor Toni Turk opened with a prayer that included beseeching God to keep Blanding citizens free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The annual melodrama incorporated lyrics about recent raids and seizures of ancient artifacts from Blanding homes. "Legalize Pot" T-shirts, emblazoned with images of ancient ceramic pots, sold out quickly.

- Unique Research Program Hosted at Crow Canyon: Researchers from across the United States and Canada gathered at the Crow Canyon campus June 7–10 to coordinate the second phase of investigations for the Village Ecodynamics Project (VEP). The first phase of the project, VEP I, was initiated in 2002 and brought together researchers representing diverse disciplines—archaeologists, geologists, geographers, computer scientists, and economists—in an effort to explain key aspects of ancestral Pueblo life in southwestern Colorado between A.D. 600 and A.D. 1300.,0,w

- Albuquerque Public Schools Implement Program to Preserve Navajo Language and Culture: When Brittany Arviso was old enough to take part in a Navajo coming-of-age ceremony, her family grappled with the preparations. Not knowing where to find some of the items for the ceremony, they turned to her grandparents for help. Her father and grandfather went up into the mountains to get some plants and other things for the four-day ceremony. But there was one thing that 12-year-old Brittany didn't have and wished she had - knowing more of her native language so she could better understand the ceremony. "If I had been able to speak and understand a little language, it would have been easier and more helpful," she said. Her parents hope that a new Navajo language summer school offered by Albuquerque Public Schools this year will eventually help her learn more about her culture and language. Her 10-year-old brother, Lucas, is in the classes, and Brittany may be able to join next year if the program is expanded.

- Waco Mammoth National Monument One Step Closer to Reality: The Waco Mammoth Site has moved a step closer to being recognized as a national monument as part of the National Park Service. On Thursday, U.S. Rep. Chet Edwards’ resolution on the site, HR 1376, was passed by a voice vote in the House National Resources Committee, clearing the way for consideration and vote on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives. Edwards, D-Waco, said there has been strong support throughout his push for “The Waco Mammoth National Monument Establishment Act of 2009,” including little to no resistance in committee. - Waco Tribune

- Does Maize Fuel the Rise of States? Prehistoric communities in one part of Peru’s Andes Mountains may have gone from maize to amazingly complex. Bioarchaeologist Brian Finucane’s analyses of human skeletons excavated in this region indicate that people living there 2,800 years ago regularly ate maize. This is the earliest evidence for maize as a staple food in the rugged terrain of highland Peru, he says. - Us News and World Report

- If Chaco has a Meridian, Does Los Angeles Have a Vector? (June 30): With respect to the article about the Chaco Meridian and the possibility that the Anasazi deliberately built their principal settlements on said line with only minor deviations, it certainly could be deliberately so. If it is so, however, then what are we to say about the fact that, also in the Southwest (Los Angeles to be exact) in more modern times, four major “temples of sport” — namely, the Rose Bowl, Dodger Stadium, The Forum and Hollywood Park — all lie on a straight line extending from the northeast to the southwest. One cannot help but wonder what archeologists of the next millennium will manage to make of the above fact! Bob Freedman (NY Times).

Thanks to Joyce Alexander and Michael Mauer for contributions to today's newsletter.