CALIFORNIA At the Museum of the San Ramon Valley, mastodon bones are nice, but the key to the future lies in figuring out the lessons from the recent past.


NO MONUMENT FOR FAMED GENOAN ONLY A GRAVE 06/23/99 GENOA, Nev. (AP) This tiny town's No. 1 hero, John "Snowshoe" Thompson, is commemorated by a statue and plaques elsewhere for packing the mail across the snowy Sierra alone on skis. But there's nothing in Genoa except his grave and a museum exhibit. And a local business group wants to do something about it. "It's obvious there should be a monument in Genoa to honor Snowshoe," says Laurie Hickey of the Greater Genoa Business Association. "We want to take the lead in getting it done." A fund-raising effort for a local monument will start this weekend's Snowshoe Thompson Festival at Mormon Station State Park. Hickey said association members plan to keep pushing the idea throughout the community and the region, hopefully in concert with other groups, in an effort to gain additional support. For a 20-year period ending in 1876, Thompson was Genoa's winter lifeline to the outside world. The Norwegian native carried mail and supplies between the community and Placerville, Calif., on the other side of the Sierra twice a month during the winter. "Many people who visit Genoa don't even know who Snowshoe Thompson is. But after they hear his story, they are very interested," Hickey said.

ARIZONA Bootlegging has taken on an impressively complicated set of rules and customs over the decades. In neighborhoods in Fort Defiance, Ariz., sellers signal their availability by opening or closing the window curtains. In Chinle, they boldly place a sign that says "OUT" on their door when their inventory has run dry. In Kayenta, sellers signal they are open for business by turning down a porch light, by raising a flag in a window or by hanging out a "Hay for sale" sign, even though no hay or sheep are anywhere to be seen.

NEW MEXICO Dig-it pits simulate the methods archaeologists and paleontologists use to uncover fossils. Ground-up walnut hulls cover cast bones people can reveal using paint brushes. A special sand pit gives family members a chance to play together creating dinosaur tracks with rubber dinosaur feet. The Senate Appropriations Committee on Thursday passed a $13.6 billion bill that includes $3 million for the National Hispanic Cultural Center of New Mexico. The Interior Department funding bill for fiscal 2000 also funds several other programs in the state, including $3.0 million for the National Park Service to continue land acquisition at the Petroglyph National Monument in Albuquerque; and, $1.8 million for the National Park Service to acquire 375 acres of privately held land within the Pecos National Historical Park and the Glorieta Civil War Battlefield. Alvord, who grew up on a Navajo reservation near Gallup, N.M., said Western medicine often ignores a key tenet of Navajo beliefs-the idea that balance is the key to health. Just as too much rain can harm crops, too many negative thoughts can cause sickness. When the mysterious flu-like illness swept through the reservation, a local medicine man blamed the outbreak on a surplus of nuts caused by the heavy rain. Experts at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were baffled by the epidemic, but they dismissed the nut theory at first. Then they discovered that the medicine man had in fact found the root of the problem. Excess rain had nourished a bumper crop of nuts that in turn fed a rise in the mouse population. Those mice passed the disease along to humans.

TEEN WRITES WINNING STORY OF AUTO IMPACT ON NAVAJO CULTURE 06/24/99 GALLUP, N.M. (AP) A 16-year-old's trip to a car wash eventually led to a tour of Washington, D.C., and a place in a documentary on the History Channel. Donny Jones entered a story in a National History Day contest for high school students in New Mexico and won, sending him to the national finals in College Park, Md., earlier this month. It was his first airplane ride and first visit to the nation's capital. "The farthest I'd ever been is White Sands," Jones said. He didn't win the national award, but his idea _ the changes in reservation life resulting from the pickup truck _ caught the eye of History Channel producers airing a one-hour documentary about the contest. For three weeks, a video crew shadowed Jones around his family's northern McKinley County home in the Navajo community of Twin Lakes (population 2,000) as he hauled water, fed his baby goats and worked at his loom on a traditional Navajo rug. The idea for the contest entry came to him last winter at a car wash in Gallup, when he saw a Navajo grandmother dressed in traditional turquoise and silver jewelry scrubbing the mud off her pickup. The scene got him to thinking about how the automobile has impacted Navajo life. The subsequent attention has ignited the Gallup High School sophomore's desire to go into film-making and become the first American Indian director to win an Academy Award. The documentary traces the teen-ager's research as he interviewed truck dealers who frequently take Navajo rugs as down payments, and followed him as he found modern weavings and silver jewelry that now include pickups where they once portrayed horses and wagons. He compared the convenience of trucks, which make it easier to haul wood, coal and water, to the dangers, with the deadly combination of alcohol and rural roads on the reservation. "Some Navajos misuse the automobile," Jones said. "There's a good and a bad side." Technology will always be changing, but "within the four sacred mountains we can apply technology to our ceremonies and our traditional life and we will always be strong," he said.

MEXICO The serpent god Quetzalcoatl committed indiscretions with a female relative after drinking pulque and fled eastward into the Atlantic out of shame. Pulque has been brewed for 2,000 years or more. The Aztecs had at least eight gods credited with its invention. The bad news for pulque makers is that rabbit-cooking chefs are threatening the industry. In a clash of two traditions, the silky inner membrane of the maguey - the agave plant from which pulque is produced - is being used as a cooking sack that gives a special flavor to a traditional rabbit recipe called "mixiote." That is depleting the supply of healthy magueys. It would be a shame if the agave or maguey plants disappeared from the dry highlands of central Mexico, Del Razo says. The Aztecs got almost everything they needed from the maguey: cloth from leaf fibers, roofing materials from the leaves, needles from thorns and drinks like pulque from the sap.


DECADES LATER, PANCHO VILLA REMAINS AN INFLUENCE IN WEST TEXAS 06/23/99 05:51PM ODESSA, Texas Known as a savior to the landless, a revolutionary leader, a cruel killer and a border bandit, Gen. Francisco Villa died in a hail of gunfire 76 years ago on his way to a baptism. But the legends and interest surrounding Villa and the culture of "Villismo" still thrive in West Texas. It may seem odd to some that a figure like Pancho Villa, from a revolution which started 89 years ago in Mexico, still could have an impact on Texans today. But he does. "In many ways he's still alive _ he's part of our history, our folklore," said Redford resident Enrique Madrid, 52. Many ancestors of the Mexican Americans who live today in Marfa, Alpine and the many communities lining the Texas/Mexico border were refugees of the bloody battles between Villa's "Insurrectos" and the Mexican Federal Army. Madrid's grandmother was a refugee of the fighting in Chihuahua City. "She was a schoolteacher," said Madrid. "She left her entire family there and never went back to Mexico." Ventura Hernandez crossed what was then a swift-moving Rio Grande into the arms of a Redford rancher named Ceferino Madrid. A year later Madrid's father was born. The rest, as they say, is history. Villa had a big impact on the Big Bend region, said Alpine resident Glenn Willeford, a Mexican Revolution historian at The Center for Big Bend Studies at Sul Ross State University. "Many of the populations of Mexican origin in Alpine and Marfa today came over during the fighting in Ojinaga," he said. In 1914, the border town of Ojinaga, Chihuahua, was fiercely fought over by the Villistas and the federal soldiers of Venustiano Carranza, the acting chief of Mexico. Villa needed Ojinaga to receive his vast supplies of artillery and food from the United States. At the time there was a lot of support on the Texas side of the border for Villa because he bought so many guns and supplies from U.S. merchants, said Odessa resident and West Texas historian Glenn Justice. "Both Candelaria and Presidio were Villa towns," said Justice. "There were at least 30 people in Presidio selling guns to Villa's brother Hipolito," he said. In 1914, Villa was at the height of his power as the general of the Northern Division Army, ranging across the states of Chihuahua and Durango. Justice, author of "Revolution on the Rio Grande," described the attraction of Villa to Mexicans at the time. "He was terribly charismatic. The poor and landless saw him as their savior. In one day he was able to raise 10,000 men to fight under him," said Justice. Ojinaga fell to Villa four times, but it was the final battle on Jan. 10, 1914, that affected citizens of the Big Bend area the most. "The battle only lasted 45 minutes. It happened at 7:30 in the evening during the coldest month of the year," said Mexican historian Dr. Ruben Osorio, describing the scene at Ojinaga. At least 3,500 federal soldiers, their wives and children fled Villa's army across the Rio Grande into Texas. "The river was littered with weapons and blood, dead people and horses," said Osorio. During the battle, U.S. residents in Presidio watched the fighting from their rooftops. Some families even stood on the riverbank only a few feet from the battle to get a better look. Industrious American photographers crossed the Rio Grande to snap photos of dead Mexican soldiers to sell as postcards to the curious throngs. "It was like a circus," said Osorio, who has researched Mexican Revolution history for 30 years. "Children, women would get shot on the U.S. side by stray bullets. On some occasions Villa asked his army to shoot away from the United States, but I think sometimes they shot toward them on purpose." The Ojinaga refugees _ 6,000 in number _ walked three days to Marfa. Many were starving and sick. Most already had walked eight days through the desert from Chihuahua City, fleeing the fighting between the Villistas and the Federales. Many died along the way. A local Big Bend legend has it that one of those refugees who died was the famous American journalist Ambrose Bierce, author of the "Devils Dictionary" and "Tales of Soldiers and Civilians," who had mysteriously disappeared several months earlier on a trip to Mexico. According to the story, the elderly author, who was called Don Ambrosio by the Mexicans, grew ill along the way. "He died on the way to Marfa, and the 3rd Cavalry buried him in a common grave with the other refugees east of town," said longtime Marfa resident J. Alfred Roosevelt. In Marfa, the refugees were rounded up by the National Guard and transported by train to Fort Bliss in El Paso, where they were confined in a tent city, covering 60 acres and encircled by barbed wire. Most were released after a few months and allowed to become U.S. citizens if they could guarantee employment. Villa had been mythologized as a revolutionary leader in U.S. headlines, but by 1915 his popularity and luck began to decline. President Woodrow Wilson, who had been sympathetic to Villa, switched to the side of Carranza. In 1916, Villa's troops retaliated by raiding Columbus, N.M., killing 18 people and burning the town to the ground. After the raid, American opinion soured over Villa. He was referred to as a cruel killer or a "border bandit." It is not certain that Villa was even present at the raid, however. There are two sides to every revolution, said Madrid. "He was a savior to those he helped and a devil to his enemies," he said. Pancho Villa and the Mexican Revolution still influence the mindset of people today, said Glenn Willeford. "People along the border are largely Villistas. They are working class; I call it Villismo," said Willeford. "It's a culture characterized by nationalism about Mexico and an independent attitude." At least 1 million people died during the revolution, which started in 1910 and ended with the assassination of Villa's friend, the revolutionary leader Emiliano Zapata, in 1919. Today, Madrid, who works as an archeological steward for the Texas Historical Mission, said reminders of Villa and the Mexican revolution still remain in the numerous gravesites of the Mexican soldiers and citizens, which dot the U.S. side of the border, and in the family names of those who fled the fighting so long ago for safety in Texas. "The Acevedos, the Catanos, the Evaros" Madrid counts off the family names of those who came over during the tumultuous revolution and live in Redford today. "It was a long time ago and people forget that so many lived and died in the Mexican Revolution. It was a war between brothers _ violent and painful."

FEW ARTIFACTS FOUND AMONG REMAINS UNDER HIGHWAY 06/23/99 CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas (AP) Few artifacts have been found on an old Refugio mission burial site found under U.S. Highway 77. The artifacts include a religious medallion at least 170 years old, a rosary and coffin nails, the Corpus Christi Caller-Times reported Wednesday. "These people were not being buried with many grave goods," said Britt Bousman, associate director for the University of Texas at San Antonio's Center for Archaeological Research. Little else has been found among the human remains of the 200-year-old Our Lady of Refuge mission or Nuestra Senora del Refugio. Road construction crews found the graves, about two feet beneath the highway, in March. Bousman anticipates it will take six to eight more weeks to finish excavation on the west side of U.S. 77. Some remains extend under the east side of the highway, meaning an excavation will also take place on that side. "It depends on how many burials we find," Bousman said. "On the west half of the highway we've found up to 34 (bodies) and counting." The cemetery was initially thought to have about 60 sets of human remains, all buried between 1800 and 1830. "We'll probably go over that 60 number," Bousman said. Archaeologists will send the remains to San Antonio for study by scientists from the Smithsonian Institution and University of Tennessee. The bodies will then be reburied, most likely in the Our Lady of Refuge Catholic Church cemetery. The church was built on the ruins of the Refugio mission. Eleven new burial pits were discovered recently, meaning the dig could go into August, Bousman said. That means the completion of the $6.2 million highway widening project will probably be pushed back to December 2000 instead of the anticipated April or May 2000 finish date, said Becky Kureska, spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Transportation. Weather has been another factor in the delays, Ms. Kureska said. "We've had an unusual amount of rain," she said. "But we've had a lot of 'unusual' on this project."

NEBRASKA Anthropology students from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and their teachers dug the hole, looking for arrowheads, dart and spear points, pottery shards, stone axes -- anything that would tell who had been there hundreds -- maybe thousands -- of years ago. They are part of the UNL Anthropology Department's field school, where students get hands-on experience at archaeological digs in Nebraska and elsewhere in the United States.

MAKING ARROWHEADS IS A HARD BUSINESS 06/24/99 GENOA, Neb. (AP) It's a hard business. First, they have to judge the lay of the land, knowing where to look for the rock they need. Then, they take the tools of the trade the same ones used by native Americans to turn out the arrowheads and tools from an ancient era. It's a hobby known as flint knapping, breaking rock and flint and shaping them into some of man's earliest tools. And all flint knappers carry the scars of their hobby on their hands. "It's just one of those things," said Rick Hamilton of Stuart, one of the knappers who visited the Genoa Indian School recently for a demonstration. "Even those of us who have been doing it for years are bound to get a nick each time we work flint," added Carl Elfgren of Overton, another of the knappers at the Genoa demonstration. But to wear gloves would be to lose the feel of the rock, so the men work on, heedless of the scrapes. Flint is the rock of choice, but obsidian, a volcanic rock, can also be used. Elfgren and Hamilton find the flint they use along the Republican River in Nebraska, in Kansas and in east-central Wyoming. The best place to get flint is about one foot beneath the ground, below the frost line, because the rock closer to the surface is often cracked by frost, the pair said. To be a good flint knapper, Hamilton said, is to be a geologist, historian and to be learned in Indian culture. Indian boys would begin imitating their elders work in making arrowheads when they were about 2, Elfgren said, but it would be another six to eight years before they could make a workable piece of equipment. Of course, it's not the difficulty, but the coordination that makes the arrowhead, he said. And the hard, highly polished arrowheads were both sharp and deadly. A quarter-inch arrowhead could kill a buffalo, Elfgren said. It depended upon the skill of the hunter and where the arrow hit the animal. Smaller arrowheads were put on arrows, while larger arrowheads were put on spears. Elfgren said his demonstrations of making arrowheads fascinate crowds, leaving even small children spellbound. He's traveled as far as 300 miles to give demonstrations, especially to schools. Using another rock and a deer horn, the knappers transform the flint into an arrowhead. It's a process they can complete in 10 or 15 minutes, about the same amount of time it took the Indians. Demonstrations last up to a half hour, though, as Elfgren and Hamilton stop to explain and show what they are doing at each step. It's a hobby Elfgren has been at for 45 years, since he was a small boy and found an arrowhead, and stopped to wonder how it was made. Elfgren taught himself through trial and error. Hamilton became fascinated with the hobby about 10 years ago when he saw a demonstration. A group of about 100 Nebraska flint knappers meet occasionally to share techniques, but the one thing they won't share is the sources of their stone. "We're like fishermen guarding their favorite fishing holes," Hamilton said. "We guard our rock caches. But we learn by watching the techniques of others."

CYBERIA The secret life of animals: How dogs helped create the human race, and other mammalian finds. Archaeologists have increasingly begun turning to animals for guidance, seeking clues about early humans by focusing on the pets and pests of prehistory. Think your dog is a lovable scamp whose greatest talents are chasing frisbees and messing up the carpet? That pooch (or, rather, his ancestors) may have helped create the human race. The use of animal archaeology to study human development is likely to grow more common as tools like DNA sampling become more sophisticated. In the 1960s and '70s some farmers picked up spare cash by digging up and selling "dragon bones" -- fossil shards used to make traditional medicines for treating stomach troubles and scars. But farmers here say they only recently realized that there was big money in excavations, and began carving out their peculiar niche in China's emerging market economy. "In the beginning, we didn't know how valuable this stuff was," said Ding Yuzhu. "Now we have discovered we could do this to make a living," he said. This spring, the 18-man team from Dingjiaergou tunneled 500 yards before they found fossils, which Ding said could be distinguished from the surrounding rocks by their color and also their unique taste.