Incidents in Southwestern Archaeology Journal

collaboration between the Hopi people and an archaeology team working in the Jeddito Valley of Northern Arizona. The project came about because the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Federal Highway Administration proposed building a road across the Navajo Reservation that would impact ancient cultural sites of the Hopis and other Native American groups of the area. The Hopis worked with archaeologists and the Navajo Nation to inspect and assess the sites and to minimize the destruction or disturbance of those sites.

The stakeholders in the project were the Native American tribes whose historic sites could be impacted, the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department, the Hopi Tribe, archaeologists from some of the tribes, and individuals with expertise in the archaeology of the Southwest. The authors of the study on this project note, “To accomplish this, the Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department, ZCRE, and the Navajo, Hopi, and Zuni tribes together designed a prospectus that augmented the research design previously developed by archeologists to mitigate adverse effects of the project on historic properties” (Swidler, et al. 2000, 49). While the project took place on Navajo lands, the other tribes believe their ancestors inhabited the sites in question, and the Navajo invited them to participate as a result of these beliefs.

The perspectives on the project are varied, because of the many different tribes and individuals involved in the project. The Hopis are particularly concerned about archaeological research into their ancestors, and they believe modern issues and perspectives must be taken into consideration. The authors note, “The Hopi advisors made it clear that contemporary archeological research in the Southwest cannot be divorced from social, political, and moral issues” (Swidler, et al. 2000, 51). The cultural advisors from the different tribes gave their own perspectives about different aspects of the sites, and how their ancestors used the sites, and they all had input and information that helped the archaeologists in their study of the sites. The participants note that combining perspectives is extremely valuable in this work. They write, “Combining tribal narratives and interpretations with archeological data results in a more intimate rendering of history, and enables us to more easily imagine the vitality of life at these sites” (Swidler, et al. 2000, 53). This, the perspectives of the many participants helped create a larger picture of life and work at these sites.

The project seemed to work well because all the participants worked at getting along with each other, and were working together toward a common goal – preservation of ancient sites that had strong meaning in their cultures. The authors end their discussion with this comment, “We now see that tribes are and will continue to be proactive in directed research projects. […] — it is possible to set aside political and philosophical differences to address a common goal” (Swidler, et al. 2000, 53). The challenges included getting the many tribes and their representatives together, and the known friction between many of the tribes, which the authors alluded to in their closing statement.

This project is concluded, but it indicates there is still much work to be done in Jeddito Valley. The sites in this study were analyzed because of road construction, but there have been several other studies in Jeddito, one in 1935 that uncovered painted panels, kivas, and many other relics (Lister 2000, 70), all with the help of Hopi workers and archeologists. There is also a study on coal mining done in the Valley, so its cultural significance is great, and to a wide variety of tribes, and it seems as if the future of the Valley lies in more archeological exploration and discovery.


Lister, Florence C. 2000. Incidents in Southwestern Archaeology. Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press.

Swidler, Nina, David Eck, T.J. Ferguson and Leigh Kuwanwisiwma, Roger Anyon and Loren Panteah, and Klara Kelley and Harris Francis. 2000. Multiple Views of the Past. Cultural Resource Management. Vol. 23.

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