Friday December 10, 1999

SWA's goals are to assist the public gain more access to archaeology, help archaeologists reduce transaction costs within the profession, and, find and render obsolete nonproductive frictional bottlenecks (to protect careers, political clout and cherished resources, preservationists like friction in the system -- yet friction always is in need of challenge and validation for the times). To better achieve these goals, SWA has engineered a plan for web site re-design. Before we roll out the pixels and bytes, we'd like to hear your suggestions. Please write to

CALIFORNIA Orange County officials presented Mission San Juan Capistrano with a check ($1.1 million for restoration and preservation of the Great Stone Church) on the 187th anniversary of a powerful earthquake that destroyed most of church, killing 40 people. $2.9 billion a year from offshore oil and gas drilling fees will go to conservation. Landlocked states get some of the funds for parks, wildlife conservation and historic preservation, but California would get the lion’s share.

ARIZONA The 1916 Childs-Irving facilities were designated a National Engineering Landmark and listed on the National Register of Historic places. Whoever would preserve the historically significant turbine housing and flume as a museum must work through the Forest Service.

COLORADO Members of the Black Hawk City Council had spent almost a million dollars in historic preservation money in remodeling and fixing up their own homes. The CBI information was instrumental in passage of legislation changing how the historic preservation grants are awarded.

NEW MEXICO The Gallup Inter-Tribal Indian Ceremonial Association is currently seeking a Native American Guide and Storyteller to provide cultural awareness to visitors riding the Amtrak passenger trains between Gallup and Albuquerque. Near a bend of the Pecos River, where the narrow stream winds its way through the vast high plains of eastern New Mexico, the partially rebuilt walls of a frontier military post mark the site of a cultural experiment that failed. Established in November 1862, near a circular grove of cottonwoods known as Bosque Redondo, Fort Sumner, now preserved as a New Mexico state monument, had only one mission. It was built to serve as a watchdog over nearly 9,000 captive Mescalero Apaches and Navajos.

TEXAS The Santa Fe, completed in 1930, was built over the course of a year and half and required hundreds of workers. The downtown landmark restoration project will revitalize Amarillo. The December 1835 Battle of Béjar, a bruising defeat for Mexican forces, convinced Mexican Gen. Antonio López de Santa Anna to quell resistance in Texas. Events leading up to the Battle of Béjar began in the fall of 1835, after Santa Anna abolished the Constitution of 1824 and proclaimed himself dictator of Mexico.

CYBERIA Preservation groups praised Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt for fulfilling his pledge to bring down the tower on his watch. Babbitt also has backed a Park Service plan to build a new visitor center at Gettysburg and restore the battlefield to its 1863 appearance. Gravestones provide data, often not elsewhere available, on the dates of birth and death of the deceased, as well as in many cases his or her family circumstances, parentage, conjugal relationship, religious affiliation, and even mentality, psychology, and attitude to life. Using DNA, a Peruvian in Washington DC was matched as a distant living relative of one of the three Incan mummies found on top of an Argentine volcano. The individual and a girl ritually sacrificed about 500 years ago could have had a common ancestor 100 years before her death. Martian archaeologists will surely look back in wonder. Relying on carbon-dating of hockey sticks and baseballs, historians will argue over the artifacts, speculating on the fate of the Canadians. Anthropologist Benson Saler puts it this way: "Is there anyone out there who doesn't know what 'Beam me up' means?"

[Ed Note -- Hmmm... consider stylistic changes in automobile material culture over time -- In the 50's it was rocket fins cast in tribute to engineering, space exploration and the Cold War. These days, the tail lights and body shapes of late model cars give an impression that we are looking at the face of ET. Archaeologists can truly claim to have surveyed and recorded ET crash sites with each junked car wreck site found abandoned in the desert.]