Friday November 5, 1999

CALIFORNIA The archdiocese is building Our Lady of the Angels Cathedral, but a group of American Indians has fought that construction in court, claiming the land is an ancient burial site. Archaeologists from Sonoma State University descended on this now vacant lot along the Sacramento River, digging up and dusting off the past -- glass buttons, abalone shells, smoking pipes and any other fragment 19th-century Sacramentans left behind. In a town that prides itself on volunteerism, the Simi Valley Historical Society is looking for a few good folks. The museum director is worried the museum cannot keep up with demand. For information or to volunteer, call Strathearn Historical Park and Museum, 137 Strathearn Place, at 526-6453. Residents of this Mojave Desert town hold their annual Weed Show this weekend. Competitors use weeds, antiques and found objects to make bouquets. A special "purple glass, survivors and casualties" category elevates two challenges of desert living--the searing sun and the occasional earthquake--into advantages. Purple glass forms when clear glass made with manganese turns violet in the sun. The "casualties" subcategory gives purple glass lovers who had bad luck in the recent temblor a way to exhibit their damaged collections. Earthquakes are just one of the joys of High Desert living. At the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, researchers have been working on a control system that switches off a cutting laser as soon as the beam slices through the surrounding rock and touches part of a fossil. The result could be a boon to palaeontologists. The 24th annual American Indian Film Festival, the oldest of its kind, opens next Thursday on an unconventional note -- a movie featuring Pierce Brosnan.

NEVADA Two coin dies from the former U.S. Branch Mint in Carson City were found for sale on the Internet trading site Within a week and with a little urging from the Attorney General's Office they were returned. The dies were likely plucked out of the ground in January during an excavation, but officials are not sure who took them or how they ended up in California.

UTAH,1249,125014241,00.html? Each year for a decade now, Navajo families have come north from southern Utah and Arizona, bringing with them their music, stories, dances and especially their colorful rugs. This year, 35 elders, most of them weavers, are visiting as part of the nonprofit Adopt-A-Native-Elder program, which sponsors an annual rug show and jewelry sale. There are still spectacular Anasazi cliff ruins, fragments of ancient pottery, corncobs and metates, too. In terms of sites per square mile, Cedar Mesa has one of the densest concentrations of archaeological sites anywhere in the world. Visitation has forced land managers to actually manage the resources and preserve them for the future. For information or reservations, contact the BLM at, Cedar Mesa-Grand Gulch Permit Reservation Office, P.O. Box 7, Monticello, Utah, 84535, or call 435-587-1532.

ARIZONA Arizona has well over a dozen reservation destinations, and you can learn about them by consulting guidebooks such as "Indian America: A Traveler's Companion," by Eagle Walking Turtle (John Muir Publications, 4th edition 1995). Another book, recently updated, is "Native Roads: The Compete Motoring Guide to the Navajo and Hopi Nations," by Fran Kosik (Creative Solutions Publishing, 2nd edition 1999). They gave our city its name, helped sustain its earliest European settlers and rescued the Spanish presidio time and again from Apache attack. But the Tohono O'odham were not very popular with some of Tucson's leading citizens when President Wilson created the "Nomadic Papago Reservation" Jan. 14, 1916. This week, voters in Tucson and South Tucson endorsed a proposal that will provide a rebirth of Tucson's birthplace. We're calling it Rio Nuevo, and with $320 million, it also will emphasize what's very old. Gold was first located just west of Yuma in 1776. Father Francisco Garces didn't loudly publicize his discovery in the Cargo Muchacho mountains. It is also possible that there were some Frenchmen mining in this area even before the 1830s, a theory based on a Mohave Indian tradition that there were French miners along the Colorado in the early 1800s. A Mohave legend tells how the tribe rose up and drove the French from the region.

NEW MEXICO The proposed Wheels Museum is envisioned as a place that would showcase all forms of transportation and honor the people who built the shops and worked for the railroad. The museum's board has racked up a list of offers for exhibits that could be placed in the museum. A new radio show chronicles the cowboy way of life. Western music is the music of the cowboy, a way of life encompassing the wide-open spaces of the real West as well as the West of our childhood -- and grown-up -- imagination.

TEXAS Arlington and Fort Worth received preliminary approval for historic preservation grants yesterday that will help pay for a written history of Arlington and create a historic district in Fort Worth. The cleanup of one of Dallas' oldest parks has unearthed stonework built between 1935 and 1937 by the Depression-era WPA.

CYBERIA It started out as revitalization project but it quickly turned into an archeological dig. The graves date back to the late 1800's. A team of South Dakota archeologists has been called in to gather what remains they can find.,1575,SAV-9911050280,00.html The city is asking a Chicago attorney to work with the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency to determine if his 67-acre parcel has a Native American burial site. A site a mile west of Ely has provided vital new clues about daily life of dogs. Experts from the university's archaeological unit say that they have been intrigued by the large number of dog skeletons and the care with which they were buried. In contrast to remains of cats, cows and pigs, whose carcasses were discarded on rubbish tips, about 20 dogs have been found carefully laid out in purpose-built graves, some more than 1,000 years old.

[ has yet to be contacted regarding repawtriation ] The Buffalo Bill Historical Center has been gutted and stripped down to its bare walls and floors for a multimillion-dollar overhaul that curators say will convert it from a grand collection of Native American artifacts to a grand portrait of Native American lifestyles and the artifacts that were part of them. The complete "reinterpretation" of the museum and its world-class collection of Indian art and artifacts comes as part of $6.5 million of work beginning at Cody's renowned Western historical center to prepare it for continued growth into the next century. The revamped museum will open to the public next summer. An 80-year-old eagle feather headdress seized in an undercover sting two years ago was returned Thursday to the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in North Dakota. As a forensic anthropologist, Michigan State University Professor Norm Sauer helps investigate a half-dozen or so homicides a year. His latest case is exceptional: Sauer will use the CAT scan pictures as the basis for clay sculptures recreating the facial features of two mummies. Archaeologists may not like it; but the justification for the marbles being in Britain does not, at bottom, depend on archaeology; it depends on what the marbles have done while they have been here. The Parthenon frieze began its Greek life virtually invisible and ended it in ruin and neglect. In London it inspired a revolution and brought Ancient Greek ideas and ideals to the world. The Elgin Marbles should stay in the museum where they did their work, not move to a Greek museum merely to be nearer where they were born. Rev. Jack Olive discovered a passion for digging up the past. Archaeology, he said, requires a lot of work, usually in unpleasant conditions and remote sites.