All posts by mjh

Mark Justice Hinton lives in New Mexico and loves the Four Corners region, as well as the Rocky Mountains. Write him at

Grade School Studies of Chaco

Y-Press Online | Archaeology lesson takes students to Colorado dig center By Cameron Johnson, 15, Y-PRESS

Eighth-grade students in an accelerated-learning program at Hannibal (Mo.)Middle School spend the year learning about the Anasazis – a Pueblo Indian civilization in the Mesa Verde region during the 10th to 13th centuries. Just before graduation, they take all they’ve learned to the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colo., where they spend a week immersing themselves in the Anasazi culture.

Wolves North and South

New Predator in Yellowstone Reshapes Park’s Entire Ecosystem (

Nine years have elapsed since the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service imported 15 gray wolves from Canada to colonize Yellowstone, wolfless since 1926, when hunters finished exterminating them as unwelcome pests and dangerous predators.

Today, the park has 250 to 300 wolves, too many to track them all with radio collars. They are no longer classified as an endangered species, but are now “threatened,” and, if a dispute between the Fish and Wildlife Service and the state of Wyoming is resolved, they may soon be “delisted” altogether, allowing carefully controlled hunting.

But, for scientists, this triumph is only the beginning. Wolves, it turns out, constitute a “keystone species” that is reshaping an entire ecosystem in ways not foreseen when researchers began a crossed-fingers experiment in wildlife preservation.

Compare the successful reintroduction of wolves in Yellowstone with the difficulties near the Gila Wilderness, where local obstructionist hoodlums kill the Mexican gray wolves (los lobos). mjh

ABQjournal: Two Female Wolves Found Dead

Thirteen wolves have been found dead in Arizona and New Mexico since March 2003, some from gunshot wounds and auto collisions and others from still unknown causes.

Wilderness Volunteers

WV Index

Trips are one week long and are limited to 12 or fewer participants. Meals are included in the trip price.Participants share camp chores. Most trips include extra time to explore and enjoy the area in which they are based. Wilderness Volunteers teaches and follows Leave No Trace outdoor living skills and ethics. Participants provide their own camping gear (a list specific to each trip will be mailed with registration confirmation), a sense of adventure, and a willingness to contribute time and energy to worthy projects.


ABQjournal: Enchanting El Morro a Lasting Record of Past Travelers By James Abarr, For the Journal

EL MORRO NATIONAL MONUMENT — On the western slopes of the Zuni Mountains, 42 miles southwest of Grants, a golden sandstone mesa offers a unique tapestry of New Mexico’s yesterday.

For more than 250 years, the soaring cliffs of El Morro, rising 200 feet above the ancient Zuni Trail, beckoned travelers to rest in their shelter. It was an idyllic camping place in a small forest of juniper and pines beside a catch-basin, which trapped rainfall and melting snow runoff and never failed to provide ample water.

Through the centuries, these Spanish and American passers-by carved their names and a record of their deeds into the soft sandstone walls. The result is more than 1,000 inscriptions — a remarkable history book in stone which has been set aside as El Morro National Monument. …

If you go
WHAT: El Morro National Monument, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior; telephone: (505) 783-4226.
WHERE: In west-central New Mexico, 42 miles southwest of Grants via N.M. 53.
HOURS: Open daily except Christmas and New Year’s; summer hours, 9 a.m.-7 p.m.; remainder of year, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
FEES: $3 a person; children under 17, no charge.
FACILITIES: Visitor Center provides information, brochures and guide books, and a 15-minute video introduction to the monument.
A museum features exhibits covering 700 years of human presence at El Morro.
Campsites and picnic areas are located within the monument. An RV park is available near the monument entrance.
ACTIVITIES: Inscription Rock Trail, a paved one-half mile loop, leads past the major inscriptions at the base of the mesa.
Mesa Top Trail, a 2-mile-long roundtrip loop, offers panoramic views from the summit of El Morro and provides access to two prehistoric Anasazi Indian pueblos. One pueblo, which dates to the 13th century, has been partially excavated.

Anasazi Migrations into Hohokam Territory

Very interesting informative article about studies of Anasazi migration into Hohokam territory in Arizona. Several cool photos, including the first rectangular kiva I’ve seen attributed to Anasazi. mjh

Pueblo groups moved to San Pedro River sites in 13th century by PAUL L. ALLEN, Tucson Citizen

The Pueblos, from the Tusayan and Kayenta areas, brought with them prized obsidian and pottery, but they strained the economy in southern Arizona’s river valleys.

Evidence shows that platform mounds began appearing about 1275, coinciding with the migrants’ arrival.

”This may be more than a coincidence,” said Jeffrey Clark of the Center for Desert Archaeology. ”The mounds serve integrative functions inside the villages but also could have served as territorial markers for the irrigation communities – an architectural message directed to the migrants that ‘We were here first; this is our turf.’ ”

The Tucson-based, nonprofit center has spent more than a dozen years studying the northern San Pedro River Valley. The area, from around Benson north to the river’s confluence with the Gila River, is the last relatively undisturbed riparian setting in the southern Southwest. …

The Hohokam and Hohokam-influenced groups living in the San Pedro Valley north of today’s Redington in the late 1200s likely were puzzled by construction being done by their new neighbors about seven miles south, an area now called Davis Ranch.

Architecture was an important aspect of the socio-religious organization of southern Arizona communities.

A 15-by-20-foot kiva is part of the Davis Ruin excavated in the San Pedro Valley north of BensonWhile the locals constructed formal platform mounds, 6 to 8 feet tall upon which important ceremonies were conducted, their new neighbors were digging an underground room – a kiva that also would serve a ceremonial function.

This second article is shorter but chock full of new (to me) places and names in Arizona. Lots of new things to investigate. mjh

Ancient sites reveal clues to life, death of a culture by PAUL L. ALLEN, Tucson Citizen

The movement of Pueblo migrants from the Four Corners region to the southern San Pedro Valley and from northern New Mexico into the Rio Grande Valley to the south between the mid-1100s and the late 1300s was greeted with mixed reactions by the ”locals.”

In some communities, archaeological evidence indicates the newcomers coexisted peacefully and over time were simply absorbed. But evidence suggests not all encounters were so peaceful.

Reeve Ruin, a Pueblo community north of what now is Cascabel, is defensively located atop a high cliff. It was protected by stone walls fashioned with narrow openings that limited access to the village itself. The site was excavated in the 1950s by Charles Di Peso of the Amerind Foundation.

Curiously, the Davis Ranch site, a second migrant village located on a flat across the river from Reeve, also excavated by Amerind, appears to have no such defensive aspects.

ATV Anarchists — enjoying the freedom to destroy

Driving: Making Tracks, Making Enemies By JASON TANZ, NYTimes

Another front has opened in the land-use war. For more than four decades, greenies and gearheads have been battling in parks, courts and state houses across the country over off-roading on public lands. But factions among off-roaders, a group that includes A.T.V. riders, four-by-four enthusiasts, snowmobilers and motorcyclists, are also squaring off.

On one side are self-styled responsible off-roaders, usually members of local clubs that promote following existing land-use rules and minimizing environmental impact. On the other are the renegades, who see such an approach as environmental appeasement. …

Many off-roaders say that the obnoxious behavior had overshadowed efforts by off-road clubs to organize cleanups of popular trails and teach their members techniques moving fallen trees off the trails instead of driving around them, for instance to minimize ecological impact. In 1990, Tread Lightly, a program formed by the Forest Service to promote responsible off-roading, became a private nonprofit organization, managed and financed by companies like Ford Motor and Toyota. Today, Tread Lightly leads awareness workshops and restores trails. “Our mission is to empower people to enjoy the outdoors responsibly,” said Lori Davis, the president.

“I think the majority of people who use motorized vehicles believe in the concept and the ethic of Tread Lightly,” Ms. Davis said.

Clearly, she hasn’t been talking to the sport’s more libertarian fans. “I think Tread Lightly is just a veiled form of extreme environmentalism,” said Brad Lark, publisher of, a Web site devoted to off-roading. …

A writer on the Web site off-road .com, writing as “Davey the Endangered Desert Tortoise,” expressed a similar view with less subtlety in a February 2002 column: “I don’t Tread Lightly. I trample. From tree-huggers to their totalitarian signage that follows. I trample all in the path of freedom’s future.”

The writer continued, “I don’t tread lightly on treason, and that’s exactly what the Greenies are hereby accused of when they take a stab at our America’s freedom my family’s freedom to enjoy the outdoors.”

American Archaeology Magazine

Welcome to American Archaeology

American Archaeology is the only consumer magazine devoted to the excitement and mystery of archaeology in the United States, with additional coverage of Canada and Latin America. In four issues each year, American Archaeology’s colorful features and departments present the research breakthroughs, persistent puzzles, and unique personalities making news in this fascinating field.

This is a nicely done quarterly that covers archaeological issues throughout North America. Current issue features a very interesting article on “geoglyphs” (aka, “intalgio”, large scale drawings in the desert) with great photos. Unfortunately, the article and photos are not online. mjh

the Fisherman geoglyphA Close Look at Geoglyphs

By Tamara Stewart

Reaching across the Mojave and Sonoran Deserts of Arizona and California, these immense figures are testimonies to the beliefs of an ancient people that persist today. Images of giants, mythic figures, animals, and geometric designs are etched into the desert floor or fashioned by rock alignments. So far, more than 600 of these figures, known as geoglyphs, have been recorded in this area. Some of them are estimated to be thousands of years old.


kivaKeeping watch over ancient treasures By Deborah Frazier, Rocky Mountain News

CANYONS OF THE ANCIENTS NATIONAL MONUMENT – Dan Corcoran’s eyes and ears help protect this 164,000-acre archeological preserve for future generations.

The area around Sand Canyon Pueblo, with its 420 rooms, 100 kivas and 14 towers, is Corcoran’s territory. The pueblo was excavated in the 1990s and most of it was reburied for protection.

“There are still lots of depressions where the kivas and rooms are,” said Corcoran, who also volunteers at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center. “You get the feeling of being in a small village.”

He’s one of dozens of volunteer site stewards at the monument, located north of Cortez. They are trained to look for and report vandalism, pothunting and other damage. …

By the early 1200s, more than 100,000 Anasazi, now called the ancestral Puebloans, lived in southwestern Colorado. The early Puebloans, related to the present-day Hopi of Arizona and the Pueblo Indians in New Mexico, migrated to the area starting in about A.D. 700. Before they left in the late 1200s, trade routes stretched from South America to the Pacific Northwest. Small dams and elaborate irrigation systems watered fields.

Acoma Cultural Center

Pueblo of Acoma to begin construction on cultural center New Mexico Business Weekly

The 30,000-square-foot facility will be located at the base of the Pueblo of Acoma, which is set atop a 300-foot sandstone mesa an hour west of Albuquerque and 14 miles south of Interstate 40. …

[Acoma] is considered one of the oldest continuously inhabited villages in North America. …

[T]he architectural style will demonstrate more than 1,000 years of Acoma’s history, showing the evolution of Acoma building styles.