15th Biennial Southwest Symposium

Tucson, Arizona
Thursday, January 14, 2016

On this page:

Public Program: Thursday -- Making Archaeology Public Project
Papers: Friday - Session 1 | Session 2 | Saturday -  Session 3 | Session 4
Posters: Friday | Saturday

All Session, Paper, and Poster Abstracts: Download.pdf

Public Program


Abstract: 2016 will mark 50 years since grassroots preservationists successfully worked with Congress to pass the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), a United States law that acknowledges the importance of our national heritage instructs federal agencies to be good stewards of that heritage. One effect of this law has been a massive expansion of publicly funded archaeological work carried out in advance of construction projects.  This work, in turn, has resulted in tremendous new understandings of Native American and immigrant histories in the United States and its territories.


The Making Archaeology Public Project (MAPP) is a nationwide effort to highlight just a few of the many significant insights that have come to light since the passage of the Act. Archaeologists in each state are working within their communities to select one of the many engaging stories that have come to light and to share them with the public to celebrate the last fifty years of archaeological investigations. The ultimate goal is a website that includes links to videos that exemplify the ways that NHPA has changed our understanding of the past.


On Thursday evening, January 14, 2016 from 7 to 9 pm, Lynne Sebastian (an archaeologist and historic preservation enthusiast) will host a panel discussion with MAPP leaders to share the national and state projects, which range from finding the first farming settlements in North America in the Tucson Basin to the way thousands of tiny projects in New Mexico tell big stories about the ancient past.  


This event will be held at the Scottish Rite Temple in downtown Tucson, at 160 S. Scott Avenue and is open to the public.

The Scottish Rite Temple has two parking lots immediately north and south of the building, with the south lot the larger. Please obey parking restrictions and do not use spaces 13, 40, or those with signs that say "Royal Elizabeth Bed and Breakfast." Metered street parking is available within one to two blocks, and the venue is one block south of the Modern Street car route.



Session 1

Session Title: Research in the Service of Repatriation
Organizer: T. J. Ferguson (University of Arizona)
Discussant: Matthew Garza (Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community)
Discussant: Chip Colwell (Denver Museum of Nature and Science)

Session Abstract: The passage of the National Museum of the American Indian Act of 1989, the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990, and various State Burial Laws have led to more, not less, archaeological and ethnographic research. The intentional excavation of human remains after 1990, and the repatriation of human remains and NAGPRA items in museum collections, requires anthropological research to determine cultural affiliation and evaluate tribal claims. Over the last twenty-five years, the research undertaken in the service of repatriation has produced new theoretical perspectives on the transmission of social identity and cultural property over time and space. It has also altered the practice of archaeology and ethnography, and led to increased collaboration with the descendants of the past groups we study. This symposium highlights repatriation research to illustrate how these trends have had a positive impact on our discipline.

Session 2

Session Title: Navigating the Landscape: Navajo and Apache Identities Beyond Anthropological Research
Organizer: Kerry Thompson (Northern Arizona University)

Session Abstract: In the study of Navajo and Apache identities, the emphasis on ethnogenesis, or the emergence of Diné, N’de, Inde, and Tinde has typically begun with Athapaskan migrations and followed a path through acclimation and acculturation to the American Southwest as both a geographic zone and distinct cultural region. What is not fully incorporated into the story of Navajo and Apache identities are Navajo and Apache histories themselves. Although recent research is attempting to address this inequity, the body of literature as a whole has significant impacts on how anthropologists conceive of and portray the people themselves, which in turn affect popular understanding of Navajo and Apache culture. Where identities matter most for Native peoples is often in legal decisions and what is often presented, and accepted as “true,” are the anthropological identities decided upon decades ago that have undergone little, if any substantial revision. This session looks at different facets of the anthropological identities of Navajo and Apache people and the ways in which these identities matter outside of academia.


Session 3

Session Title: Research at the Intersection of Archaeology and Ethnography
Organizers: John Ware (Amerind Foundation), and Peter Whiteley (American Museum of Natural History)
Discussant:  Jane Hill

Session Abstract: Serious dialog between Southwestern archaeologists and ethnographers has been neglected for far too long, to the analytical impoverishment of both disciplines. Ethnographies are essential to the practice of archaeology. The past can be better understood socially by linking it with ethnographic studies that document humanity’s lived experiences. More critically, the ethnographic cultures of the Southwest represent end points on historical trajectories that preserve important information about the histories—both structured and contingent—of Southwest peoples. Archaeologists neglect ethnography at our peril. Conversely, especially in the Southwest, where there is a demonstrable continuity between ancestral and historic sociocultural formations, archaeology provides an essential context for understanding contemporary sociocultural variability. If we are to ever truly achieve one of anthropology’s iconic goals--the explanation of cultural differences and similarities--contemporary cultures must be viewed through an historical lens, and archaeological cultures through an ethnographic lens. The papers in this session demonstrate the value of renewing archaeology and ethnography’s long neglected collaboration.

Session 4

Session Title: Scientific Approaches to Mesoamerican Connections
Organizer: Ben A. Nelson (Arizona State University)

Session Abstract: 
Archaeologists are collaborating with other scientists to understand the prehispanic connections between the Southwest U.S./Northwestern Mexico and Mesoamerica.  Ultimately both scientific and humanistic approaches are necessary, because the connections range from technological to symbolic.  Included are complex manufacturing techniques, public architecture, body decoration, iconography, and ritual. Such distant acquisitions were part of an ancient embodied psychology associated with social distinctions, awesome performances, and numinous experiences. Presenters in this session describe insights from the sciences, adding new dimensions to our understanding of how different peoples were connected. Some areas of new inference include the dating and sources of exchanged materials, identification of technological styles in fine crafting, elite consumption, and the role of head shaping in marking cultural identity. Though the methods are powerful, questions remain open about some applications. As the papers demonstrate, archaeology with its command of time plays a role in testing and refining some of these scientific methods.  




Session Title: Engaged Archaeology and Descendant Communities
Organizers: Kari Schleher and Susan Ryan (Crow Canyon Archaeological Center)

Modern-day engaged archaeology is increasingly conducted with or by descendant groups and communities whose ancestors make up the archaeological record of the southwest U.S. and northwest Mexico. The posters in this session focus on research by and with tribal members from seven descendant communities across Arizona, New Mexico, and Colorado. The authors contributing to these posters provide a multifaceted description of a particular research project and, in doing so, demonstrate how group and community engagement shapes and benefits archaeological practice. Posters highlight collaborations between archaeologists and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices, non-profit organizations, tribal governments, and cultural resource management companies, all of which are working together to create a richer understanding of the past by including multi-vocal research designs, diverse perspectives on the past, and interpretations of the archaeological record that integrate traditional perspectives with Western scientific methods.

Session Title: Engaged Archaeology Through Transnational, Interdisciplinary, and Indigenous Collaborations
Organizers:  Michael Searcy (Brigham Young University), Donna Glowacki (Notre Dame University), Todd Pitezel (Arizona State Museum)

Transnational, interdisciplinary, and indigenous collaborations enrich archaeological research and interpretations, expanding our breadth by incorporating diverse perspectives that also inherently make our work more relevant to a wider audience. The posters in this session highlight a number of recent projects from across the US Southwest and northern Mexico that have benefited from these kinds of integrative collaborations.  They also represent a diverse array of the types of research problems that are being addressed. Together they concretely demonstrate the power of collaborative efforts that have been such a fruitful part of that archaeological endeavor.


Session Title: Engaged Bioarchaeology
Organizers: James T. Watson (Arizona State Museum) and Ann L.W. Stodder (Museum of New Mexico, Office of Archaeological Studies)

The passage of NAGPRA in 1990 redefined bioarchaeology in the United States, compelling the creation of standardized protocols and increasing the volume of standardized data collected on human remains.  The imperative for (bio)archaeologists and descendant communities to work more closely together, and more often, to facilitate repatriation, has created a new age in applied, or engaged, bioarchaeology.  But, the breadth of what encompasses an “engaged bioarchaeology” goes beyond facilitating repatriation.  There is a greater concern for proper recovery and documentation of human remains from cultural resource projects and for the interpretation of these remains within a heritage management framework.  In addition, “traditional research” projects have been applied to make meaningful contributions to understanding lifeways of past ancestral communities and the implications for modern connections.  This symposium highlights some of this work to illustrate the breadth of these perspectives and how they have transformed our discipline.

Binational Archaeology: Archaeological Work in Mexico (Open Session)
Organizer: Patrick Lyons (Arizona State Museum)


Contact Information