Why you should care about Superior, AZ…

Last spring, I had the opportunity to do CRM in one of the most beautiful places ever.

Tonto National Forest near Superior, Arizona.


My sh@#$y instagram photo does not do it justice.

As much as I enjoyed hiking around that area looking for archaeology, I felt like a harbinger of doom.

We were scoping out proposed “pads” for mineral exploration. In other words, a mining company got permission from the National Forest to drill in select locations to see if there were minerals worth exploiting.

Compared to the budget of the actual drilling operation, archaeology was the rounding error of their budget.

Then the representative from the mineral exploration company pointed to a nearby mountain and said, “Well, we’re the rounding on THEIR budget.”

Since I was pretty clueless, I asked, “What do you mean? Who are you referring to?”

He was referring to Rio Tinto, a multi-national mining corporation that was gearing up to mine one of the biggest copper discoveries of all time, and it was under THAT mountain he was pointing at.

THAT mountain was Apache Leap.

Ring a bell? This happened there. 

Needless to say, it’s kind of a big deal if you’re Apache. And it should be a big deal if you’re an American. And it should be a big deal if you’re a human.

Maybe I read a little too much Howard Zinn growing up, but history matters, and that includes the moments we’re not particularly proud of.

As archaeologists, we should be rather appalled that Congress slipped a proposed land swap that gives Resolution Copper (owned by Rio Tinto) the land in question in exchange for land elsewhere. Bottomline – It gives federal land that is historically significant and now sacred to the Apache to a foreign entity all in the name of economic development. 

If you’re so inclined, there’s a whitehouse.gov petition protesting this. 

I signed it, because that place is beautiful, and it’s hallowed ground. There are jobs and copper to be found elsewhere.

Frankly, if this place isn’t sacred, what is? What isn’t off limits? Considering the number of mound sites and the frequency of fracking in eastern North America, we’ll probably be fighting these types of battles to save significant sites in our own backyards with increasing regularity.

End transmission.

Creating a mound map!

Hello everyone!

First things first, I must apologize for my long absence from the blog.  As so many of us are learning this year…  your first year in a tenure track position is tough going!  But with this being the last week of classes and my students not yet having turned in their exams and papers… I have a few moments and I wanted to post something I’ve been working on!

In the process of teaching North American archaeology and giving a few public lectures around Philly… I’ve actually managed to get a few people excited about seeing mounds!  In particular, one of my students this semester has requested that I make a google map of all the visitable mound site in the US.  (This harkens back to Alice’s post Soliciting Archaeo-Roadtrip Advice!) This is something I had already started on my own, but I thought it might be fun to see how much bigger it could get if we collaborated.  The link to my map is here: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=z6LEBGc1NmhY.kX0Y2NEUJQ0c.

Featured image

It should be editable by anyone with the link and the changes should save automatically.  At this point, I have included both sites that are open to the public, with museums, etc., those that are in public parks without signage, and those that are privately owned but clearly visible from roads with historical markers, etc. When marking locations, please do think about whether we actually want the public visiting these sites!  Unmarked sites on private land shouldn’t be included…  but those that are already marked (like those on the Mississippi and Louisiana mound trails) or those in small local parks, etc. are perfect!  This could end up being quite a cool resource for anyone’s future archaeo-roadtrips!

Congrats to everyone on finishing up this semester, and here’s to many more blog posts in 2015, as we all settle into our new lives!

Happy holidays!


2014 SEAC Sexual Harassment Survey: Preliminary Results

Three weeks ago, I was packing for the 2014 Southeastern Archaeology Conference. I was so excited. As a fairly fresh export from my PhD program, I couldn’t wait to see my friends from graduate school; to talk with the rest of my general cohort about new jobs, new kids, new projects; and to pick my colleagues’ brains about different research ideas. Admittedly, I was also anxious about presenting preliminary results from the SEAC Sexual Harassment Survey. How would people react? Would the findings make any difference?

In the end, my experience presenting these data with our survey team (led by the indefatigable Maureen Meyers) was overwhelmingly positive — well, as positive as presenting some hard truths about the state of field research safety in Southeastern archaeology can be. The Southeastern Archaeological Conference has admirably elected to make these results public on their website (in contrast to schemes for secret surveys of sexual harassment in the academy — gross). You can find them here.*

This is not the last you’ll hear about these data, but rather an initial heads up if you missed it in Greenville. In addition, this is an opportunity to give a belated but much deserved shout out to another event that occurred at our meeting, the first ever SEAC Gender Panel, coordinated by Eddie Henry and Sarah Baires on behalf of the Student Affairs Committee. This event — which will also be covered in more detail elsewhere (the SEAC Newsletter, etc.) — brought together a sizable contingent of our organization in an effort to call out gender bias and discrimination in Southeastern archaeology, from sexual harassment in the field (Maureen presented our survey results), to biases in academic publishing (courtesy of Dana Bardolph), to the expectations of service and mentoring experienced by different genders. That we came together to talk about these things at all is a huge step forward; Eddie, Sarah, and the rest of the Student Committee should be commended for making it happen. Even better, their effort seems to have kindled a fire about actually doing something to confront these myriad issues. I’m not sure exactly where this will lead, but my pre-SEAC anxiety has been replaced by post-SEAC hope. Onward.

*Here’s some citation information for the poster: Meyers, Maureen, Tony Boudreaux, Stephen Carmody, Victoria Dekle, Elizabeth Horton, and Alice Wright. 2014. What Happens in the Field? Preliminary Results of the SEAC Sexual Harassment Survey. Poster presented at 71st Annual Meeting of the Southeastern Archaeological Conference, Greenville, South Carolina.