Nicholas C. Laluk
Copyright © Nicholas Laluk 2015
A Dissertation Submitted to the Faculty of the
In Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements
For the Degree of
In the Graduate College
As members of the Dissertation Committee, we certify that we have read the dissertation prepared
by Nicholas C. Laluk, titled Historical-Period Apache Occupation of the Chiricahua Mountains in
Southeast Arizona: An Exercise in Collaboration and recommend that it be accepted as fulfilling
the dissertation requirement for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy.
____________________________________________________Date: December 12, 2014
Barbara J. Mills
____________________________________________________Date: December 12, 2014
Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman
____________________________________________________Date: December 12, 2014
J. Jefferson Reid
____________________________________________________Date: December 12, 2014
John R. Welch
Final approval and acceptance of this dissertation is contingent upon the candidate’s submission
of the final copies of the dissertation to the Graduate College.
I hereby certify that I have read this dissertation prepared under my direction and recommend that
it be accepted as fulfilling the dissertation requirement.
________________________________________________ Date: December 12, 2014
Dissertation Director: Barbara J. Mills
This dissertation has been submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for
an advanced degree at the University of Arizona and is deposited in the University
Library to be made available to borrowers under rules of the Library.
Brief quotations from this dissertation are allowable without special permission,
provided that an accurate acknowledgement of the source is made. Requests for
permission for extended quotation from or reproduction of this manuscript in whole or in
part may be granted by the copyright holder.
SIGNED: Nicholas C. Laluk
This research study could have been completed without the advice and
support of my committee, which included Dr. Barbara Mills, Dr. J. Jefferson Reid, Dr.
Barnet Pavao-Zuckerman and Dr. John Welch. Thank You for your constant
encouragement and assistance throughout the entirety of my graduate school
experience. I am grateful to the Coronado National Forest Heritage Program.
Primarily my former and current supervisors Mary Farrell and William Gillespie.
You both provided guidance and I learned so much about archaeology, Federal
service and life as a result of your tutelage and encouragement.
I am extremely grateful to the tribal nations involved in this dissertation
research. Many thanks to the Apache cultural experts and tribes involved in this
research from the Fort Sill, Mescalero, San Carlos and White Mountain Apache
tribes. A special thanks to Mark Altaha, Mae Burnette, Holly Houghton, Arden
Comanche, Silas Cochise and James Kunestsis. This dissertation was not possible
without your direction, advice and friendship. Thanks to Ramon Riley, Chris Adams,
Chip Colwell-Chanthaphonh, Alan Ferg, Karina Montez, Larry Ludwig, Clarice Rocha,
Seth Pilsk, Sarah Herr, and Mark Sechrist for all your thoughtful comments and
assistance throughout the writing process.
I am grateful for the funding I received to support the completion of this
dissertation from the American Philosophical Society, the Community and Forestry
Environmental Restoration Program, the Society for American Archaeology and the
Students to Academic Professoriate for American Indians Program.
Finally, this dissertation could not have been completed without the love and
support of my family. Dad, Mom and Owen I love you all so much.
This dissertation is dedicated to the memory of Silas Cochise and Jayro Treas.
LIST OF FIGURES……………………………………………………………………...11
LIST OF TABLES……………………………………………………………………….15
CHAPTER 1: INTRODUCTION…………………………………………………..........17
Research Setting……………………………………………………………….................20
Previous Archaeological Research: Chiricahua Mountain Research Area………………22
Differentiation of Apache Tribes Involved in Research…………………………………28
Western Apache………………………………………………………………….29
Chiricahua Apache………………………………………………………………30
Mescalero Apache………………………………………………………………..31
Apache Occupation of the Chiricahua Mountains……………………………………….33
Research Area: Spanish, Mexican and Early Euroamerican Exploration……………….36
U.S. Federal Indian Policy and the Apache in Southeastern Arizona…………………...38
CHAPTER 2: APACHE ARCHAEOLOGY……………………………………………42
Differentiating Between Chiricahua and Western Apache Archaeology………………..43
Why “Leave No Trace”?………………………………………………………………....45
Apache Archaeology: Previous Research………………………………………………..48
Apache Archaeology: Use of Oral Testimony…………………………………………...48
Historical-Period Apache Battlefield Archaeology…………………………………...…51
Previous Research on Apache Archaeology in Southeast Arizona…………………...…53
Culture Contact and the Archaeology of Colonialism Research Studies………………..59
Table of Contents – Continued
The American Indian Experience: Moving Toward a Multivocal History………………63
Overview of Indigenous Archaeology in the U.S……………………………………….70
Approaches and Definitions of Indigenous Archaeology in the U.S……………………70
Archaeological Theoretical Contributions to the Development of Indigenous
Archaeology in the U.S………………………………………………………………….75
Processualism Influence…………………………………………………………75
Post-Processualism Influence……………………………………………………76
Civil Rights Activism and Vine Deloria Jr………………………………………………77
Establishment of Tribal Museums and Cultural Preservation Programs………………...79
U.S. Development of Indigenous Archaeology: Key Legislation……………………….81
Indian Self-Determination and Education Act of 1975………………………….81
National Historic Preservation Act of 1966……………………………………..82
American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978……………………………….83
Archaeological Resource Protection Act of 1979……………………………….83
Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990……………..84
Archaeological Collaborative Research with American Indian Communities………….87
Note: My Own Journey………………………………………………………………….91
American Indian Scholars……………………………………………………………….94
Archival and Ethnographical Research……………………………………………….…97
Table of Contents – Continued
Pedestrian Survey………………………………………………………………………...99
Cultural Heritage Resources……………………………………………………………..99
Metal Detector Survey………………………………………………………………….102
Site Records and Site Data……………………………………………………………...106
Apache Site Types……………………………………………………………………...108
Material Means of Recognizing Post-1850 Apache Sites………………………………110
Presence of Material of European Origin……………………………………...110
Rock Rings, Cache Areas and Other Features…………………………………111
Agave Roasting Pits……………………………………………………….……118
Horse Bone and Horse Pictographs…………………………………………....120
Other Possible Apache Rock Art……………………………………………….124
Metal Axe Cuts………………………………………………………………....127
Chiricahua Mountain Research Areas and Findings…………………………………...128
Cave Creek……………………………………………………………………..129
Apache Pass (Fort Bowie Area)………………………………………………..129
The “Bascom Affair” Incident………………………………………………….131
Horseshoe and Pothole Canyon Areas…………………………………………135
Rock Creek……………………………………………………………………...136
Jack Wood Canyon……………………………………………………………..147
Rucker Canyon…………………………………………………………………150
Table of Contents – Continued
Rucker Canyon Area Sites and Survey………………………………………….152
1869 Apache/Military Battlesite………………………………………………..155
Apache Scout Camps in Rucker Canyon………………………………………..157
Apache Scouts…………………………………………………………………..158
Apache Archaeology: Discussion………………………………………………………169
APPROACH TO APACHE HISTORY………………………………………………..172
Anthropology and “Place”……………………………………………………………...172
The “Place” and “Space” Dichotomy…………………………………………………..173
Archaeological Use of Place……………………………………………………………174
Apache Conception of “Place”…………………………………………………………177
American Pragmatism and Archaeology……………………………………………….182
Cultural Landscapes…………………………………………………………………….191
Brief Overview of Landscape Theory and “Cultural Landscape”……………………...193
Cultural Landscapes: Ethnography, Collaboration and Landscape Archaeology……...194
Place and Material as Social Investment……………………………………………….199
Research Questions: Apache Pragmatism and Social Investment……………………..199
Importance v. Methods…………………………………………………………………212
Pragmatism: A Useful Theoretical Approach…………………………………………..216
Apache Avoidance……………………………………………………………………...225
Examination of Power, Perception and Place: Multiple Archers on the Grassy Knoll?..240
Table of Contents – Continued
A Personal Enlightening Experience…………………………………………………...241
CHAPTER 8: CONCLUSIONS………………………………………………………..245
My Experience: Common Themes During the Collaborative Process…………………245
Federal Entity…………………………………………………………………..246
Intra-tribal Politics……………………………………………………………..247
Intertribal Animosity……………………………………………………………250
Willingness of Administration…………………………………………………..251
My Own Identity/Multiple Responsibilities……………………………………..252
Final Thoughts………………………………………………………………………….256
References Cited………………………………………………………………………..260
Figure 1.1. Chiricahua Mountain Research Area in southeastern Arizona………………23
Figure 1.2. Research Areas within the Chiricahua Mountains ………………………….24
Figure 1.3. Map showing locations of Western, Chiricahua and Mescalero Ancestral
territory (After Goddard 1996)…………………………………………..........................34
Figure 1.4. Traditional Lands of the Mescalero Apache Tribe. Map shows Ancestral
Chiricahua territory into Arizona, Mexico, and New Mexico.
Map provided by Mescalero Apache Tribal Historic Preservation Office.
On file, Mescalero Tribal Historic Preservation Office, New Mexico…………………..35
Figure 1.5. 1874 Surveyor General’s Map of Arizona showing progress of
public surveys showing Chiricahua Apache Indian Reservation (After Smith
Figure 6.1. Example of .45-70 caliber cartridge casing modified into tweezers. Fort
Bowie collection. Photograph on file, Fort Bowie Collections. ……………………….111
Figure 6.2. ASM Collection. Apache ceramics exhibiting thin-walls, wipe marks and
striations. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk, On file Coronado National Forest
Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ……………………………………………………….114
Figure 6.3 ASM Collection. Apache ceramics showing “fillet rim,” fingernail
indentations and thin-walls. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado
National ForestSupervisor’s Office Tucson.……………………………………………115
Figure 6.4. ASM Collection Catalog 74-60-1. Apache plain ware ceramic vessel.
Found in Granary Cave area in the Chiricahua Mountains. Photograph by Nicholas
Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office,Tucson………...……...117
Figure 6.5. Apache cultural experts visit to roasting pit on private land within the
Chiricahua Mountains. Photograph on file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s
Office, Tucson, AZ……………………………………………………………………..119
Figure 6.6. Burned horse bones. From left. Upper molar, lower molar, distal end
(1st phalanx), proximal end, metapodial – 2 fragments, rib (medial half). On file,
Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office,Tucson………………………….…….120
Figure 6.7. Horse pictograph AR03-05-01-273 in reddish/yellow pigment from
Granary Cave area. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office,
List of Figures – Continued
Figure 6.8. Horse pictograph in red pigment from Sulphur Canyon site
AR03-05-01-508. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson........123
Figure 6.9. Apache horse pictograph in black pigment (AR03-05-01-284). Cave
Creek area. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ…..…123
Figure 6.10. Site AZ CC:15:90 ASM. Clockwise from bottom (1) cut cartridge
casing; (2) blue fragmented bead; (3) aqua chipped glass fragment. Photo by
Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson,
Figure 6.11. Crimped spent cartridge casings and turquoise bead fragment
from site AZ CC:15:90 ASM. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file,
Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ…………………………..134
Figure 6.12. Apache collaborators Silas Cochise, Mae Burnette and Jayro Treas
observing blue fragmented beads and cut metal fragment in 2010. Photo by
Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson,
Figure 6.13. Site AR03-05-01-470. Erect juniper post to the right and walled
up cobble mortar………………………………………………………………………..138
Figure 6.14. Site 03-05-01-557. Walled up “Bee-hive” Cache. Rock Creek
area. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest
Supervisor’s Office, Tucson…………………………………………............................140
Figure 6.15. Site 03-05-01-557. Interior of walled-up “Bee-hive” Cache. Photograph
by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office,
Figure 6.16. Possible Apache plain ware ceramic from site AR-03-05-01-558.
Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisors
Office, Tucson, AZ……………………………………………………………………..143
Figure 6.17. Site AR03-05-01-557. Interior of rock shelter with residual “dissolved”
cache mortar on ledge near center of photograph. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk.
On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ………………….145
List of Figures – Continued
Figure 6.18. Site AR03-05-01-557. Residual mortar from rock shelter cache site.
Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s
Office, Tucson, AZ……………..………………………………………………………146
Figure 6.19. James Kunestsis examining roasting pit (to right) at site
AR-03-05-01-460 in 2009. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado
National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ………………………………….…..148
Figure 6.20. Sketch of 1869 Battle of Chiricahua Pass area (after Bernard 1869)
and 1933 photograph of Rucker Canyon area. Note arrows showing prominent
matching peaks in both the panorama sketch and 1933 photograph……………...........157
Figure 6.21. H.F. Winchester 1st Lt. 6th Cavalry Post Adjutant Letter to 1st
Lt. Austin Henely Commanding Company “D” Indian Scouts suggesting
location of Apache scout Camp from Camp Rucker to be “325 yards.”…….................160
Figure 6.22. Looking nearly West toward Apache Pass with Dos Cabezas Mountains
in the Distance. Tinkler/jingle debitage location in about 250 yards to the east of
Figure 6.22. Note Apache wickiups throughout. Photograph taken by one of the
daughters of the Post Commander Major Thomas McGregor sometime between
October 1892 and March 1893. Courtesy of Larry Ludwig. Photo on file, Fort
Bowie National Historic Site…………………………………………………………...162
Figure 6.23. Fort Bowie site (FOBO 2002 B-40). Cut metal blanks for “Apache
tinkler/jingle manufacture. Fort Bowie area. Photo by Nicholas Laluk. On file,
Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ…………………………..163
Figure 6.24. Apache Tinkler/Jingle types. Adapted from (Ferg 1994: Figure 1.4)…….163
Figure 6.25. Coronado National Forest archaeologist William Gillespie holding “cut
metal” at possible Apache scout camp location AR03-05-01-555 west of Camp
Rucker in 2009. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest
Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ. ………………………………………………..….....164
Figure 6.26. Left. Whole .45-70 caliber cartridge casing. Right. Cut .45-70
cartridge casing from site AR03-05-01-556.…………………………..……………......166
Figure 6.27. Cut metal Apache finger ring. Photo courtesy of Larry Ludwig……….....167
List of Figures – Continued
Figure 6.28. Modified (flaked) amethyst glass fragment and quartz like/precipitate
crystal within potential cleared wickiup area of possible Apache scout camp north
of Camp Rucker (AR03-05-01-556)……………………………………………………168
Figure 7.1. Apache representatives Mark Altaha and Mae Burnette at Fortified
site AR03-05-01-460 in Jack Wood Canyon. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On
file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ. ………….…………202
Figure 7.2. Sketch of fortified site AR03-05-01-460 located in Jack Wood Canyon
area. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ……………203
Figure 7.3. Area covered with yellow flowers similar to story discussed by
Mescalero representatives. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk in 2009. On file,
Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ…………………………..204
Figure 7.4. William Gillespie and Arden Comanche examining oak tree and
roasting pit site AR03-05-01-275 in 2009. Photo by Nicholas Laluk. On file,
Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ………………………….206
Figure 7.5. Silas Cochise. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s
Office, Tucson, AZ……………………………………………………………………..208
Table 6.1. Results of metal detector survey at possible Apache scout camp
AR03-05-01-555 west of Camp Rucker………………………………………...............161
Table 8.1. Challenges/Problems encountered during dissertation research…………….246
Despite more than one hundred and twenty five years of exile, descendants of
Chiricahua, Mescalero, and Western Apache tribes still retain significant and powerful
ties to their former homelands in what is now southeastern Arizona. However, due to the
high mobility of historical-period Apache tribes in the U.S. Southwest and near
invisibility of Apache archaeological sites on the ground surface, much is still to be
learned about historical-period Apachean life-ways. Moreover, beyond material
signatures much is to be learned about the Apache past and present in reference to U.S.
colonial policies regarding the lasting sociocultural, political, physical, and cognitive
affects resulting from these policies and actions. These lasting impacts as a result of
colonial policies and actions are still very much felt and critically affect contemporary
Apache communities. This dissertation presents the results from collaborative
archaeological fieldwork conducted in various areas of the Chiricahua Mountain range
with Apache cultural experts representing communities with ongoing and ancestral
associations to lands now managed by the Coronado National Forest. Beyond the
material remains representing Apache culture and history it is necessary for non-Apache
collaborators to critically self-reflect and examine their own research goals and agendas
to better address issues and concerns of extreme importance to Apache tribal
communities today. By addressing the various challenges encountered during the
collaborative research processes, and modifying paternalistic thought processes and
misunderstandings in reference to American Indian communities, researchers can conduct
archaeological-anthropological research that creatively and critically responds to the
needs of contemporary American Indian communities.
Recent collaborative archaeological research between American Indian
communities and archaeologists has demonstrated the need to not only look at multiple
lines of evidence when interpreting the past, but to involve descendant American Indian
communities in all project phases (Atalay 2012; Atalay et. al 2014; Bernardini 2005;
Dongoske, Aldenderfer and Doehner 1997; Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson et al.
2008; Ferguson and Colwell-Chanthaphonh 2006; Herr et al. 2011; Kerber 2006;
Nicholas 2001, 2006; Nicholas et al. 2010; Nicholas and Andrews 1997; Phillips and
Allen et al. 2010; Silliman 2005, 2009; Silliman et al. 2008; Smith and Wobst et al. 2005;
Stoffle et al. 2001; Swidler et al. 2000; Watkins 2000). The unique ways in which
American Indian tribes view the past provide researchers with the philosophies and
worldviews needed to perform respectful, mutually-beneficial and responsible research
that is integral to protection and preservation of American Indian cultural heritage
resources on and off tribal lands.
Therefore, a critical need exists for researchers conducting research and studying
Apache archaeology to become more aware and reflexive in reference to the questions
they ask, including those possibly leading to better understandings of Apache history and
past cultural activities. Often, to Apache people, what is important is not the material
remains of the past, but that which is critically needed in present day Apache
communities. Moreover, because Apache people are still defined by, and are very much a
part of the historic landscape, an understanding of how Apache people view their
homeland – in terms that a non-Apache could understand-- will be crucial to a full
appreciation of how loss and restrictions to land and resources still adversely affects
Apache social and cultural fabric. It is even more important, for non-Apaches and
Apaches to work together on issues including land use, land management, and what is
needed to better preserve and protect the things that are important to contemporary
Apache communities.
The format of this dissertation is somewhat unorthodox in reference to traditional
doctoral dissertations. Because my research goals and questions constantly shifted and
evolved throughout the entirety of my dissertation research I present my research
questions in three different sections, with different research questions complementing the
goals of each section, but contributing to the overall final goal of stressing respectful and
responsible research that maximizes, above all, the wants, needs and concerns of
contemporary American Indian communities.
Therefore, Chapters 1 through 5 of this dissertation act as background chapters
focusing on the research area, previous research on Apache archeology, and brief
histories of the archaeology of colonialism and Indigenous archeological studies. Chapter
6 acts as the catalyst for my initial and overall research goals, describing my research
methodology and collected data to form a better understanding of late historical-period
Apache life-ways (1850-1900) through an integrative strategy including archeological
site data, historical-period document reviews and Apache oral testimony. Chapter 6 also
provides an overview of field visits to possible Apache sites and interpretation of various
sites visited during the dissertation research. The section culminates with a discussion of
future research recommendations for the identification of Apache sites on the ground
The second section associated with my research goals and questions (Chapter 7)
analyzes collected archaeological and oral data through a more humanistic, rational, and
“pragmatic” research paradigm beyond solely archaeological interpretation by focusing
on Apache interpretations of visited areas in the Chiricahua Mountains range. The section
begins with a discussion of various anthropological-archaeological and Apache uses of
“place,” the various uses of “pragmatism” in archaeology and an overview of cultural
landscape studies in archaeology. A discussion of Apache social investment strategies
and intergenerational commitment to the Chiricahua Mountain land base follows with a
strong focus on the Apache sense of “Ni”—the inseparability of the mind and the land
(Welch and Riley 2001:5). This section was spawned from initial research questions in
reference to Apache material culture from (Chapter 6) and on-the-ground site visitations
with Apache cultural experts. Therefore, the section does not solely focus on the goals of
better identifying Apache occupations of the Chiricahua Mountains, but demonstrates
that even after approximately 126 years of U.S. government imposed exile continuing ties
to the Chiricahua Mountains are intricately woven together through Apache stories, songs,
and experiences that are felt in the present.
The final section of this dissertation associated with my research goals and
questions (Chapter 8) focuses on various questions concerning the collaborative process
and how tribally-derived management practices in reference to cultural resources are not
only necessary, but also unique to each tribal entity. The section discusses the need for
archaeological collaborative research that “benefits” to tribes have to be maximized in
ways that assist contemporary tribal communities. Finally, the section outlines my own
experiences and journey as an American Indian archaeologist, employee as a U.S. Forest
Service archaeologist, and graduate student. I outline and discuss various issues and
concerns regarding the collaborative process that were encountered during my research,
work, and identity as Apache tribal member. I then provide a discussion suggesting that
due to misinterpretation and curtailment of Apache access to vital resources overall, the
loss of power and cultural well-being of Apache communities is constantly impacted.
Ultimately, these three sections work together to not only address various ways in
which Apache communities view the past and its ties to the present, but how
archaeologists need to constantly think of better research strategies and form research
questions and goals that truly benefit American Indian communities in critical ways
needed by tribal communities today. At the very least, I hope this dissertation will
demonstrate the need for researchers to perform more reflexive, humanistic and rational
research guided by tribal cultural tenets and management practices that will truly benefit
tribal communities they are working with.
Research Setting
The Chiricahua Mountain range is an ideal setting to explore issues of late
historical-period Apachean archaeological traces due to its importance to multiple
Apache nations, the history of U.S military/Apache interactions, and the presence of
archaeological material remains suggesting Apache presence on the ground surface. The
research area lies in the heart of the Apache homeland within the Camp Rucker, Cave
Creek, Fort Bowie, Horseshoe Canyon, Jack Wood Canyon, Pothole Canyon, and Rock
Creek areas (Figures 1.1 and 1.2), where the Chiricahua, Fort Sill, Mescalero, San Carlos,
and White Mountain Apache tribes retain substantial and significant ties to the mountain
range and landscape.
The Chiricahua Mountains are located in southeastern Arizona and are considered
one of the more prominent mountain ranges in the area in reference to physical
topography and past Apache presence. The first recorded use of the name “Chiricahua”
in reference to the mountain range occurred in 1684, “when a group of rebellious natives
reportedly took refuge in the sierra de Cuchicagua” (Wilson 1995:10). Wilson suggests
that “not until the 1770s did the Chiricahua Apache people come to designate a band
living within the mountain range,” and that until then the natives had simply been called
Apaches of the Sierra de Chiricahua” (Wilson 1995:10). The environment and ecosystem
of the mountain range is unique, and is one of southeastern Arizona’s “Sky Islands” due
to their diverse vertical environmental changes ranging from Sonoran grassland in the
lower elevations to pine forests in the higher areas. “Numerous long, well-watered
canyon systems run well into the range and provide a refugia for a large variety of plant
and animal species” (Sechrist 2008:8). There are an abundance of well-watered canyon
systems fed by high elevation springs that provide a refugia for various plant and animal
species found within the lower Sonoran Desert and higher pine elevations (Sechrist
2008:8). At the northern extent of the Chiricahua Mountains are the Dos Cabezas
Mountains ending at Apache Pass. The west and east sides of the Chiricahua Mountains
are bordered by the Sulphur Spring and San Simon valleys with the southern portion
bound by the Pedregosa Mountains and San Bernardino Valley leading into Mexico. A
quote by early archaeologist Adolph Bandelier amply describes the Chiricahua Mountain
setting, “But the most marked sight is the Sierra Chiricahui. It is a formidable chain, and
terribly rugged, abrupt ledges, cut up and twisted, pinnacles, crags, and precipices”
(Hayes 1991:xxi).
Previous Archaeological Research: Chiricahua Mountain Research Area
An explanation of previous archaeological research within and proximate to the
Chiricahua Mountain research area is necessary. Because it has been argued (e.g.
Gregory 1981) that Apache groups may have reused older habitation areas and material
items it is essential to discuss previous cultural sequences and archaeological features and
materials associated with these groups that have been studied in the dissertation research
area. This discussion may assist other researchers conducting archaeological research in
the Chiricahua Mountains to distinguish between possible Apache material remains and
those of older archaeological traditions such as Paleoindian, Cochise, Babicora and
Animas phases.
Most archaeological research in the area of the Chiricahua Mountains has focused
on adjacent San Simon, Sulphur Springs, and San Bernardino valleys surrounding the
mountain range and extending across the U.S.-Mexico border. Areas beyond the
Chiricahua Mountain research area have produced valuable evidence of Paleoindian
period occupations (Haynes and Huckell 2007; Waters 1986).
Figure 1.1 Location of Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona.
Figure 1.2. Research Areas within the Chiricahua Mountains.
A possible Paleoindian projectile point was found in Willcox Playa (west of the
Chiricahua Mountains), and a Clovis point was discovered near Portal, on the east side of
the Chiricahua Mountains (Sayles and Antevs 1941). However, Gillespie and Farrell
(1994) suggest that no other evidence of Paleoindian occupations in the Chiricahua
research area has been identified. In 1935, the Gila Pueblo Archaeological Foundation
initiated a program of field research in southeastern Arizona focusing on the recently
discovered Double Adobe site which exhibited simple grinding tools below extinct fossil
horse and bison bones (Thompson 1983:1). As a result of this research both Ernst Antevs
and E. B. Sayles (1941) presented the Cochise cultural sequence based upon three earlylate stages – Sulphur Spring, Chiricahua, and San Pedro, which were defined on the basis
of both archaeological and geographical material (Thompson 1983:1). In 1936, John
Hands, a local southeast Arizona rancher, assisted Gila Pueblo to excavate a large trash
midden on his ranch just outside the entrance to Cave Creek Canyon (Hayes 1999:5-6).
The Cave Creek Village site, as it was named, consisted of a cluster of seven houses and
a new type of plain grey to red-brown ceramic from Mexico that defined the Chiricahua
stage of the Cochise cultural sequence.
In 1962, Johnson and Thompson conducted test excavations at the Ringo site in
Turkey Canyon on the Western slope of the Chiricahua Mountains. The site consists of
two small adobe-walled room-plaza complexes and a small trash mound, which the
researchers attributed to the Mogollon complex A.D. 1250-1350 with strong contacts to
the Babicora phase in Chihuahua (Johnson and Thompson 1963:465).
John Douglas’s dissertation research focused on the prehistory of the region
known as the Northern Sierra, which includes four areas, one of which is southeastern
Arizona. His excavations at the Boss Ranch site located in the San Simon Valley
bottomlands east of the study area focused on what he termed the “periphery” of the
Northern Sierra region. His work examined assumptions and theories for long-distance
social interaction and he concluded that the “analysis revealed no evidence of population
intrusion from “core” and few aspects of local material culture that could be ascribed to
Paquime” (Douglas 1990:13).
Heckman, Montgomery and Whittlesey (2000) performed a study of prehistoric
ceramic collections from archaeological work conducted on the Fort Huachuca Military
Reservation located in southeast Arizona. The researchers organized a guide of ceramics
commonly found on sites in southeastern Arizona as well as a history of archaeological
research in southeastern Arizona (Heckman, Montgomery and Whittlesey 2000). Their
research provides good examples of local ceramic distributions and is a useful guide for
ceramic characteristics throughout southeastern Arizona.
Southeast of the Chiricahua research area, Fish, Fish and Madsen (2006) have
researched the “Malpai Borderlands study area,” including the San Bernardino, San Luis,
Animas, and Playas valleys as well as the Peloncillo and Animas mountains. The
researchers provide a good overview of previous archaeological research in the area from
the Paleo-Indian period up to a summary of the Spanish, Mexican, and early American
exploration of the area.
Archaeologists from the Coronado National Forest have documented sites in
Rucker Canyon, leading to the listing of the Rucker Canyon Archaeological District
(RCAD) on the National Register of Historic Places (Gillespie and Farrell 1994). The
sites range from Animas Phase (A.D. 1150 to 1375) occupations to late historical-period
ranching. All five prehistoric sites listed as a part of RCAD are identified as Animas
Phase occupations, which are distinguished from the early Mogollon occupation of the
area by above-ground architecture, Cloverdale Corrugated pottery, and small amounts of
Chihuahuan pottery types. The architecture is characterized by adobe or jacal walls built
on rows of upright slabs or “cimientos” (Gillespie and Farrell 1994:3). Other than the
previously mentioned Ringo site, which contains two compounds and a total of over 25
rooms, no other Animas Phase sites have been recorded in the Chiricahua Mountain area.
Other prehistoric period sites recorded as part of the RCAD appear to differ from
previously studied sites in the Chiricahua Mountain and broader Southeast Arizona areas.
For example, “despite the fact that they contain diagnostic characteristics attributed to
Animas Phase sites including cimiento architecture and the Cloverdale Corrugated and
Chihuahuan wares there are fewer than a dozen rooms present at each, which is in
contrast to general Animas Phase sites of contiguous room surrounding a plaza”
(Gillespie and Farrell 1994:4). The RCAD sites exhibit a “ranchería” pattern of dispersed
households and are located at higher elevations and different physiographic settings than
other Animas Phase sites in the area (Gillespie and Farrell 1994:4). Gillespie and Farrell
(1994:4) also go on to note that, “even greater changes in settlement patterns have been
postulated for the subsequent Salado period: sites with Gila Polychrome predominating,
which indicate a post-1300 date, appear to be larger and located along floodplains” (e.g.,
the Kuykendall Site, Mills and Mills 1969). Although a minimal amount of Gila
Polychrome has been observed at one of the prehistoric Rucker Canyon sites, no other
evidence of a Salado occupation in the Rucker Canyon area of the Chiricahua Mountains
has been observed (Gillespie and Farrell 1994).
Other later historical-period sites also comprise RCAD, including
military/ranching/homesteading buildings and areas associated with Camp Rucker. One
of these is the Camp Rucker rifle range—the “Hermitage”—where an early settler, the
so-called “Hermit of the Chiricahuas,” had a built a tunnel-structure through an alluvial
terrace to be able to escape from Apache attacks (Rak 1945). Another is the Camp
Rucker Heliograph Station on a high ridge west of Camp Rucker—a mirror device that
was utilized during the “Apache Wars” as a form of communication. In collaboration
with the Coronado National Forest (CNF), the Cochise College rock art recording group
has spent time in various areas of the Chiricahua Mountains recording rock art panels
including the Rock Creek and Jack Wood Canyon areas. The main focus of the site visits
was group documentation of rock art panels with Forest Archaeologist William Gillespie
as well as conducting some pedestrian survey for additional cultural heritage resource
Differentiation of Apache Tribes Involved in Research
There are seven recognized Southern Athapaskan or Apachean speaking tribes
including the Chiricahua, Jicarilla, Kiowa-Apache, Lipan, Mescalero, Navajo, and
Western Apache (Buskirk 1986; Opler 1983a). Of these tribes the Chiricahua, Mescalero,
and Western Apaches former homelands include a good deal of eastern Arizona, and
much of western and southern New Mexico, which are the primary areas of this
dissertation research (Figure 1.3). Therefore, it is necessary to briefly discuss how
scholars have differentiated these Apache tribes through cultural, linguistic, and
geographical distinctions.
Western Apache
Goodwin (1942) separated Western Apache tribes into five geographic groups:
San Carlos, White Mountain, Cibecue, Southern, and Northern Tonto. The name Western
Apache was coined by anthropologists to designate Apaches “whose twentieth-century
reservations are in Arizona and their immediate historical predecessors” (Basso
1983:487). These groups are further divided into a series of territorial units of differing
size and organization including “groups,” “bands,” and “local groups” (Goodwin 1942:6).
Although the five Western Apache groups intermarried to a certain degree, “they
considered themselves quite distinct from one another” (Basso 1970:5).
The White Mountain Apache group were considered the easternmost, and one of
the largest, and most powerful bands of the Western Apache (Goodwin 1942:12) whose
territory ranged over an extensive area bound by the Pinaleño Mountains on the south and
the White Mountains to the north. The San Carlos Apaches (Gillespie 2001:2) traditional
territory extended into the foothills of the Catalina Mountains and on both sides of the
San Pedro River (Basso 1970:1). The territory of the Cibecue Apache extended north
from the Salt River to above the Mogollon Rim and “whose western boundary marked by
the Sierra Ancha Mountains, which together with the Mazatzal and East Verde River,
defined the area of the Southern Tonto” (Basso 1983:463). The Northern Tonto territory
extended to the upper Verde River area and north to the San Francisco Mountains (Basso
Although the United States government divided the Western Apache people into
different federally recognized tribes with separate reservations, Apache band and clan
relations bind them together as a cultural group (Welch and Ferguson 2005:77).
Furthermore, as Welch and Ferguson (2007:184) point out “Most adult Apaches
recognize kinship with members of at least one other Apache tribe. Bonds to land and
family cut across Apache reservation borders.” This statement underscores the unique
and dynamic bonds all Apache people hold to lands and each other, despite present-day
geographical constraints and tribal affiliation.
Chiricahua Apache
Opler (1983b:416) suggests the Chiricahua Apaches are named after the
Chiricahua Mountains in southeastern Arizona and are first mentioned as “Chiricagui” in
1784 according to Spanish documents. The Chiricahua Apache tribe consists of three
named bands base upon geographical variations in the southwest U.S. including: (1) the
“red paint people,” or (číhéne) who belonged to almost all Chiricahua territory west of
the Rio Grande in New Mexico; (2) the (čókánéń) who belong to territories around
present-day Duncan, Wilcox, Benson, and Elgin Arizona, with mountain strongholds
within the Dos Cabezas, Chiricahua, Dragoon, Mule and Huachuca Mountains; and (3)
the (nédn í) whose territories include mainly Mexico and a small section of southwestern
New Mexico (Opler 1983b:401).
Goodwin (1942:6) points out that “the bands of the Chiricahua division seem
mostly nearly akin to the Western Apache group, with the difference being the
Chiricahua band had local groups within it, each having a regional name of its own,
whereas the Western Apache contained loosely bound units usually bearing distinctive
names, which in turn were divided into local groups” (Goodwin 1942:6). A small but
unknown number of Chiricahua Apaches are reportedly included in the San Carlos
Apache Reservation population that had been brought to the San Carlos Apache
reservation during the 1870s and 1880s until Geronimo’s final surrender in 1886.
Although these groups were divided historically, Federal Indian Policy and Executive
Orders displaced many Apache tribes from their ancestral homelands through diminished
access and reservation confinement.
Mescalero Apache
Opler (1983c:419) suggests the region inhabited by the Mescalero Apache, when
they were first identified by the Spanish as a separate group in the mid-seventeenth
century, differed little from where they lived when Americans first arrived in large
numbers in 1846. Their southern boundary extended into Mexico including the states of
Chihuahua and Coahuila. Their western territories culminated at the Rio Grande, with the
eastern boundary extending into Texas. Opler (1983c) also indicates that the Mescalero
exploited resources into Lipan Apache territory (northern New Mexico into Colorado and
Texas) aggravating hostilities between the groups. Hostilities with Mexicans,
Euroamericans, Lipans, and Comanches continued throughout the 1800s, and culminated
in 1873, with the creation of a reservation on the eastern slopes of the White and
Sacramento Mountains. However, the population dynamics on the reservation shifted in
1903, when a band of Lipan Apaches was assigned to the Mescalero Reservation, and
then again in 1913 when Chiricahua individuals being held at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, as
prisoners of war were given their choice of taking up residence on the Mescalero Indian
Reservation in south-central New Mexico or to accept plots of land near Fort Sill (Opler
1965:4; Young 1983:400). Most of the Chiricahua chose to go to New Mexico, however,
and make residence on the Mescalero Reservation (Opler 1965:4). Due to the
assimilation most of the remaining Chiricahua Apaches were incorporated into the
Mescalero Reservation and because of intermarriage with Lipan Apaches it is difficult to
distinguish cultural variations but the Fort Sill Apache in Oklahoma and Mescalero
Apache in New Mexico are basically descended from the same group of Chiricahua that
were removed from Arizona as prisoners of war in 1886. More recently, during the
twenty-first century the “Mescalero reservation was occupied by members of three
Apachean tribes—Mescalero, Lipan and Chiricahua—who have intermarried and have
become increasingly amalgamated” over time (Opler 1983b:424).
Although Apache groups were eventually forced to relocate and settle on
reservations that were far from or only minimally what their ancestral territories
encompassed, groups retain strong social ties though kinship and clan obligations, and
retain significant ties to their former homelands.
Apache Occupation of the Chiricahua Mountains
According to Basso (1983:465) it is uncertain when ancestors of the Apache first
penetrated Arizona. Across southeastern Arizona, however, Apache groups were the
dominant force in shaping the local history of the area from the approximate time of their
arrival into Arizona (perhaps as late as the 1600s), until the final surrender of Geronimo
in 1886 (Basso 1983; Spicer 1962; Sweeney 1991, 1998, 2010; Thrapp 1967). Despite
this dominance, and the fact that historical-period 1850-1880 Apache occupation of the
Chiricahua Mountains is well documented historically (Spicer 1962; Sweeney 1991, 1998,
2010; Thrapp 1967), the ephemeral nature of Apache material culture and extreme
mobility of Apache groups leave only subtle traces of Apache landscape presence.
Various researchers (Basehart 1959; Basso et al. 1971; Gillespie and Farrell 1994; Spicer
1962; Sweeney 1991, 1998, 2010; Thrapp 1967; Welch 1997; Worcester 1979) have
attempted to trace historical-period Apache occupations of southern Arizona ranging
from early Spanish interactions to later Euroamerican interactions culminating with
implementation of reservation systems and removal of remaining Chiricahua Apache to
Florida as prisoners of war in 1886. Although various Apache reservations were
established through Executive Orders and U.S governmental activities, all Apache groups
involved in the research project exploited areas and resources well beyond present-day
reservation boundaries (Figures 1.3 and 1.4).
Figure 1.3. Left - Map showing locations of Western, Chiricahua and Mescalero
Ancestral territory (after Goddard 1996).
Figure 1.4. Traditional Lands of the Mescalero Apache Tribe. Map shows Ancestral
Chiricahua territory into Arizona, Mexico, and New Mexico. Map provided by
Mescalero Apache Tribal Historic Preservation Office. On file, Mescalero Tribal
Historic Preservation Office, New Mexico.
Historically, it was often the case that through U.S. Indian policy American
Indian groups, including the Apache, were rounded up and placed together as a single
group within designated reservation boundaries (Basso 1983; Opler 1983a). Among the
Apache tribes were the Chiricahua and Western Apache who occupied various areas
within the U.S. Southwest (Figures 1.3 and 1.4). Although these groups are divided into
distinct tribes today, “in the past there was a substantial amount of interaction,
intermarriage, and movement among Apache settlements” (Herr et al. 2011:105). These
past interactions have not only shaped contemporary Apache identity but have
contributed to a rich and profound understanding and relationship to place that Apache
groups have retained over time in reference to the Chiricahua Mountains.
Because Apache groups are still defined by, and are part of, the historical and
contemporary landscape, Apache views in reference to their former homeland are crucial
for non-Apache researchers to understand to develop a true appreciation of how loss of
land still has repercussions in contemporary Apache cultural and social fabric. Perhaps
even more importantly, bringing together multiple Apache groups retaining these
relationships to the land base is essential to figuring out how the dominant non-Apache
society and Apache entities can talk together about land use and future land management.
Research Area: Spanish, Mexican and Early Euroamerican Exploration
According to Fish and colleagues (2006:45) “the Hispanic period of Arizona and
New Mexico spans roughly 320 years beginning in the mid-16th century with the arrival
of the Spanish explorers and culminating with the ratification of the Gadsden Purchase in
1854.” Of the Spanish expeditions during this time period the first that most likely would
have passed through the Southeast Arizona Region was that of the survivors of the failed
1527 Panfilo de Narvaez expedition. One researcher (Hallenbeck 1970:220-234) suggests
the four survivors of the expedition made their way to the Rio Grande River, where they
turned west and hit the Gila River in New Mexico then headed south between the Dos
Cabezas and Chiricahua Mountains. Coronado’s expedition in 1540-1542 made no
specific mention of encounters with Apaches in the Chiricahua region; however,
Goodwin (1942:66-67) suggests this may be because Apache groups exploited
mountainous areas such as the Chiricahua Mountains for refuge when they feared being
attacked so were therefore not easily detected by the Spanish or other groups. Until 1692,
no other Spanish expeditions entered southeastern Arizona. In 1692, Father Eusebio
Kino, with a small military unit under the command of Captain Juan Mateo Manje,
visited areas around the Santa Cruz and San Pedro River Valleys establishing various
visitas and missions at diverse locations (Bahre 1991:31). In 1691, Don Diego Vargas
took a group of soldiers from El Paso to Janos to search for hostile Indians by way of the
San Bernardino and San Simon Valleys. Throughout the rest of the seventeenth century
and through the early-mid eighteenth century various small-scale Spanish/Mexican
detachments campaigned throughout southeastern Arizona to subjugate hostile tribal
nations including the Apache, Jocome, Sobáipuri, and Pima. By the 1830s, however, due
to increased Apache raiding and inability to suppress Apache groups, campaigns ceased
for a number of years and the Chiricahua Mountains once again belonged to the Apaches
and an occasional Mexican war party (Hayes 1999:31).
According to Thrapp (1967:7) “conflict between Western Apaches and Spaniards
commenced in the seventeenth century and was carried on for more than two hundred
years.” Various researchers suggest that relationships between the Americans and
Apaches were relatively amicable beginning with the Mexican-American War in 1846
(Sweeney 1991; Thrapp 1967). A major turning point occurred in 1837, however, with
the slaughter of many Apache people during invited trade and peace talks including Juan
Jose Compa, an Apache leader who had been educated for the priesthood in various
Catholic schools. Compa’s murder sparked an intense Apache reaction for the next
decade or so, which as Thrapp (1967:33) suggests, “deepened the chasm of distrust
between Chiricahuas and all white men.”
Relationships continued to deteriorate with increased Euroamerican contact from
the 1840-1850s, but intensified in the 1860s with two important events. The first was the
famous 1861 “Bascom Affair,” at Apache Pass (located in the northern fringes of the
Chiricahua Mountains), where several of Cochise’s kinsman and Euroamericans were
killed (Sweeney 1991; Thrapp 1967). The second was the cowardly murder of Cochise’s
father-in-law Mangas Coloradas in 1863 by General James Carleton under a flag of truce
and promise of peace talks (Opler 1983b:404). These events sparked a decade long
conflict between the U.S. military and Chiricahua Apache groups and intensified
Euroamerican determination to pacify renegade Apache groups through amplified
attention to U.S. Federal Indian Policy and creation of reservation systems (Sweeney
U.S Federal Indian Policy and the Apache in Southeastern Arizona
With the increased encroachment of the U.S. military, settlers, ranchers, and
prospectors onto Apache lands that was intensified by the Gadsden Purchase in 1854, the
U.S. government had to deal with the so-called “Apache problem” in the southwest U.S.
With Arizona coming under U.S control, swarms of Euroamerican settlers and
prospectors began to intrude onto Apache lands. However, Apache Nations did not
initially perceive these newcomers as threats, at least not until they learned that their
main objective was to obtain Apache lands, exploit resources, and put an end to Apache
raiding (Basso 1983:480).
Federal Indian Policy regarding Apache groups with the U.S. southwest and
northern Mexico deepened as a result of increased hostilities brought on by mistrust in
reference to incoming Euroamerican populations. Various reservations for different
Chiricahua Apache groups were conceived during the 1860s, but did not become a reality
until December 14, 1872, when an Executive Order Chiricahua Apache reservation was
created in the southeast corner of Arizona territory (Figure 1.5), which included the
Chiricahua Mountains (Opler 1983b:405). The agency headquarters had to be moved
three times due to various circumstances including malaria and whooping cough
problems, encroaching Euroamerican populations, and recalcitrant Apache from other
reserves and bands. Continued raiding into Mexico forced the closure of the Chiricahua
Apache reservation in January of 1872 (Wilson 1995:111).
By the 1870s most of the Apaches occupying the Chiricahua Mountain range and
surrounding area in southeastern Arizona, including members of the číhéne, čókánéń, and
nédn í bands of Chiricahua Apache, were unwillingly removed to the San Carlos
Reservation on the Gila River (Sweeney 2010:40). The creation of the San Carlos and
Fort Apache reservations greatly disrupted the autonomy and relationships of bands
(Gillespie 2001:4). Various Apache groups were lumped together, through time, which
“blurred distinctions between them” (Gillespie 2001:4).
Figure 1.5. 1874 Surveyor General’s Map of Arizona showing progress of public
surveys showing Chiricahua Apache Indian Reservation (After Smith 1997).
This disruption was particularly hard felt during the mid-1870s, when the policy
of consolidating Apache groups at San Carlos led to the forced synchronization of the
Pinal, Arivaipa, White Mountain, and Tonto bands of Apache as well as Yavapais, and
many Chiricahua Apache from southeastern Arizona. From 1875 to 1877 the numbers of
various American Indian populations on the San Carlos Reservation rose above 5,000 and
no doubt led to increased tension, factionalism, and inter-mixing among the groups,
which further obscured later Apache demographics (Basso 1983:481b). Intolerable
reservation conditions and desire by many Apache to return to their ancestral homelands
contributed to various factions bolting from San Carlos, but many were captured and
placed back on reservations.
Throughout the late 1870s and early 1880s conditions in the Chiricahua
Mountains remained perturbed. Many of the Western Apache groups had been placed on
designated reservations farther north. However, various Chiricahua bands continued to
defy the U.S. government’s efforts to subdue them in southeastern Arizona. In 1878, with
the appointment of General Orlando B. Wilcox also came the establishment of a new
military post in extreme southeastern Arizona—Camp Rucker (Farrell and Gillespie
1994:8). The new post, which was established in the heart of Chiricahua Apache territory,
was designed as a base of operations for two companies of Indian scouts sent out to patrol
for hostile Apaches in southeastern Arizona. Although the camp was only officially in
operation from 1878-1880, its abandonment did not mark the end of its use life in the U.S.
governments Apache policy; the camp continued to be used by the military sporadically
throughout the early to mid-1880s until the final surrender of Geronimo in 1886 (Farrell
and Gillespie 1994:9). The forced removal of the Chiricahua Apache to Alabama and
Florida as prisoners of war until 1894, and eventual relocation of the Chiricahua to Fort
Sill, Oklahoma, and New Mexico blurred distinctions between Chiricahua descendants
over time. Today, descendants from the modern-day Fort Sill and Mescalero Apache
tribes retain strong ties to their contemporary and past collective Chiricahua Apache
Apache sites, especially during heightened periods of Euroamerican interactions
or post-1850 to 1900 are notoriously difficult to identify on the ground surface due the
high degree of mobility of historical-period Apache groups, the perishable nature of
Apache material items, and difficulties in identifying diagnostic Apache artifacts. As
(Sechrist 2008:17-18) suggests, “in spite of dominating the landscape for at least 300
years Apache sites are rare, material assemblages are sparse, and habitation features are
ephemeral.” Due to this relatively high degree of invisibility, identifying Apache
landscape occupations through material remains is both tenuous and speculative.
Furthermore, because of the difficulty and vague nature of Apache archaeology, as Sarah
Herr and others (Donaldson and Welch 1991; Ferg 1992; Gregory 1981) suggest, “a
comprehensive Apache archaeology has eluded researchers for decades, due largely to
the ephemeral nature of Apache land use and settlement” (Herr et al. 2011:111)
Due to this lack of distinctiveness in reference to Apache archaeological research,
most of our understandings concerning historical-period Apache life-ways and social
processes is derived from research conducted by ethnographers, historians, and nonApache researchers (e.g., Goodwin n.d.a, n.d.b, 1932, 1939, 1942; Opler 1965, 1969,
1983a, 1983b, 1983c). These recorded accounts play a vital role in forming a better
understanding of historical-period life-ways and social processes. And, as Seymour and
Harlan (1996:1) suggest, “If not for historic records and oral histories, entire lineages of
early historic aboriginal groups might not be known.”
Yet, despite the presence of both Western and Chiricahua Apache groups in
historical-period literature and ethnographic accounts, finding Apache sites on the ground
surface continues to challenge archaeological research. Spanish chronicles (Naylor and
Polzer 1986; Spicer 1962; Thrapp 1967) suggest an Apache presence in the mid-1500s,
but there has been great difficulty in finding Apache sites dating to this time period. Later
Apache occupations, which are the focus of this dissertation (due to increased access to
metal material items), are somewhat easier to locate, but even these are still difficult to
The perishable organic material used in the construction of Apache wickiups
disappears rather quickly from the archaeological record and is due to the “leave no trace”
practices of Apache groups (Goodwin n.d.a; Gregory 1981; Herr and Wood 2004; Welch
1997) such as the cleaning up material items from campsites. Thus, finding Apache
presence on the land continues to challenge archaeological research. Furthermore, as
Krall and Randall (2009:i) suggest, “archaeological investigations are not sufficient to
fully evaluate effects of development on Apache cultural resources and traditional places.”
Differentiating Between Chiricahua and Western Apache Archaeology
Geographically, both the Western and Chiricahua Apache have been tied to
distinct regions of the southwestern U.S. (Goodwin 1942; Opler 1983a). However, in
spite of these distinctions identifying historical-period presence of both Western and
Chiricahua through material remains even in areas where they have been historically
associated continues to defy historical-period Apache archaeological research.
A discussion of discriminating between Chiricahua and Western Apache
archaeology is necessary, because although they are considered different entities, the
historical-period material culture of these groups is remarkably similar. Contemporary
archaeological research aimed at differentiating between Western Apache and Chiricahua
groups has been difficult. Material traces left behind by these groups are minimal at best,
and distinguishing between the groups based upon material signatures has not been the
subject of much study. Seymour’s (2002a, 2002b, 2004, 2010, 2013) research suggests
that variations between certain types of flaked-stone assemblages and dwelling
construction materials and methods can be used as diagnostic to suggest Ancestral
Apache and Athapaskan presence on the landscape. Ferg (2004) presents information on
some known Chiricahua and Western Apache ceramic vessels using variation in style and
minimal provenience information to better identify vessels of Apache manufacture.
However, a full-scale methodological and empirical study attempting to differentiate
Chiricahua and Western Apache material culture from known recorded probable Apache
sites in Western and Chiricahua Ancestral territories utilizing diagnostic archaeological
signatures has not been conducted.
Given Goodwin’s discussion of the perishable nature of materials associated with
Apache camps, it may be impossible to distinguish between Western and Chiricahua
Apache sites on the basis of material culture instead of location alone. As he states,
“Even the most permanent old Apache campsites are hard to identify now, for the
materials used in the building of wickiup’s rotted easily, the framework poles were not
sunk in the ground more than a few inches, and the interior floor was not excavated
except where leveled on a hillside, so that there is very little trace of them left” (Goodwin
n.d.a:37). This statement alone underscores the problems associated with attempting to
differentiate between historical-period Western and Chiricahua Apache groups.
Furthermore, historically many Apache groups were gathered collectively and placed on
designated reservations and were often considered by non-Indians and the U.S.
government as one Apache group. The inter-mixing of various Apache groups, clans and
bands during reservation confinement and the location of such reserves away from many
groups’ principal homeland areas makes it difficult to differentiate and speculate on
Apache landscape occupations during the late historical-period. The lumping together of
various tribal groups blurred distinctions between material remains and the continued
high mobility of Apache groups during this time period cross cut Apache tribal
boundaries. In addition, resources were exploited by various Apache groups well beyond
these respective tribal boundaries.
Why “Leave No Trace”?
A discussion of the “leave no trace” life-style practiced by historical-period
Apache groups is warranted because various researchers (Goodwin n.d.a; Gregory 1981;
Herr and Wood 2004; Welch 1997) suggest that many Apache groups intentionally
“cleaned up” occupied areas to avoid detection by encroaching Euroamerican populations
and other American Indian groups. Furthermore, as Herr and her colleagues suggest (Herr
et al. 2011:12), Apache artifacts and features on the landscape are “camouflaged from the
view of the archaeologist by the Apache practice of residing on earlier prehistoric sites
and reusing earlier artifacts.” This invisibility resulting from intentional cleanup, high
mobility, location of Apache camps on older ancestral sites, and reuse of earlier artifacts
continues to challenge archaeological research, and although archaeologists are beginning
to identify more Apache archaeological remains “the very nature of historical-period
Apache survival entailed moving often and as lightly as possible, leaving only the faintest
of material imprints on the land” (Herr et al. 2011:105).
Discussion with Apache representatives indicates that this invisibility could also
be attributed to increased interactions with other non-Apache groups. One White
Mountain Apache Tribe (WMAT) consultant suggested that because Apache people were
hunted for their scalps it was necessary to leave nothing behind to indicate that they were
there (Riley, personal communication 2009). Arden Comanche of the Mescalero Apache
Tribe also stated that Apache people moved with the seasons and never left anything
behind because they did not want anybody to know they were there (Comanche, personal
communication 2010).
Another factor that likely contributed to Apache material culture invisibility on
the landscape is the large-scale burning and destruction of Apache camps and ranchería’s
in various mountain strongholds of historical-period Apache groups such as the Dragoon
and Chiricahua Mountains by the U.S. military during campaigns to subjugate and
"pacify" them. Various accounts indicate that when the military came across these areas
they would destroy everything, usually by setting the camps on fire (Bernard 1870a;
Bourke 1883; Gormon 1865; Harrington 1867; Kelly 1871). Moreover, interviews with
Apache representatives during State Highway Route 260 archaeological work indicated
that at times when a sickness came to camp or the death of a Holy man occurred the
entire camp was burned (Herr et al. 2011:106). This is similar to Opler’s (1965:473-475)
work among the Chiricahua Apache in which he suggests that when an individual died,
their body was usually interred at another location, their belongings were destroyed, and
their camp site was avoided or abandoned altogether. These social and cultural
obligations to respect the deceased may also contribute to the great difficulty in
identifying Apache camps in the Southwest U.S.
Regardless of the reasons contributing to the difficulties of identifying historicalperiod Apache sites the problem remains of moving beyond speculation and identifying
sites as “probable Apache” to a more thorough methodology of identifying various types
of Apache sites to better understand Apache social processes.
As previously mentioned, there are various problems facing the archaeologist
when trying to discern past Apache occupations on the landscape. These problems
include the difficulty of establishing Apache presence, the lack of material signatures,
poor temporal or chronological control, early archaeological focus to “emphasize cultures
that produced the most dense, elaborate and durable remains” (Sechrist 2008:19), thus
ignoring possible Apache components and similarities in the material record that make it
difficult to differentiate between Apache groups. A brief discussion of previous research
in reference to Apache archaeology is necessary not only to better understand ways in
which researchers have approached establishing Apache landscape presence through
material remains but how the concept of Apache archaeology is an evolving practice and
new innovative, alternative research methodologies are needed to understand the Apache
past and various social processes associated with late historical-period Apache life-ways
during eras of dynamic change in the U.S. Southwest.
Apache Archaeology: Previous Research
Research concerning Western and Chiricahua Apache archaeology has been
conducted by various researchers (Baugh and Sechrist 2001; Beidle 1990; Ciolek-Torrelo
1981a; Donaldson and Welch 1991; Ferg 1977, 1987, 1992, 1995a, 1995b, 2003a, 2003b,
and 2004; Ferg and Tessman 1997; Gifford 1980; Gregory 1981; Haecker 2012; Herr et
al. 2011; Herr and Wood 2004; Krall and Randall 2009; Sechrist 2008; Seymour 1992,
2002a, 2002b, 2004, 2008, 2009a, 2009b, 2010; 2013 Seymour and Harlan 1996; Welch
1994b, 1997, 2001; Welch and Bostwick 1998; Whittlesey et al. 1997; Whittlesey and
Benaron 1997) ranging from the identification of Apache sites to analysis of roasting pits
through radiocarbon and thermoluminesence dating and the creation of diagnostic
Apache material signatures through the analysis of probable Apache associated artifacts,
features, and archaeological excavation. Despite these studies, especially more recent
research by Ferguson and Colwell-Chanthaphonh (2006), and Herr (et al. 2011, 2013),
which I will later discuss, arriving at a better understanding of the Apache past through
utilizing archaeological research methods continues to challenge researchers. Because of
this, alternative research strategies including intensive and extensive integration of
Apache oral testimony, is needed in order to better understand the Apache past and
occupation of the late historical-period Southwest U.S. landscape.
Apache Archaeology: Use of Oral Testimony
Many archaeologists looking at Apache archaeology have emphasized the need for
combining interviews of Apache people with investigations of archaeological sites. For
example, William Longacre and James Ayres (1968) undertook a study of an abandoned
Apache campsite in the 1960s and conducted interviews in the community of Cibecue,
located on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation, to better understand the camp’s use. The
study contributed only modestly to the understanding of Western Apache settlement
systems and the structure of modern Apache camps of the 1950s and 1960s, but served as
a catalyst and foundation for renewed interest in ethnoarchaeology (Welch 1997:82).
Jeanette McKenna (1981) looked at historical-period Apache sites in the Canyon Day
community of Whiteriver, Arizona, east of Fort Apache. McKenna’s study relied on both
archaeological and ethnohistorical data. She used counts of artifacts as a basis for many
of her conclusions concerning task-specific activity areas, including kitchen, ceremonial,
and fence mending. She nonetheless integrated Apache oral consultations into the thesis
to strengthen many of her arguments. Rein Vanderpot and Teresita Majewski, also
combined oral history and archaeology in their study of Fort Huachuca scouts (Vanderpot
and Majewski 1999). They interviewed descendants of former Apache scouts to identify
the remains of early Apache scout encampments and habitations at Fort Huachuca.
Although, “the archaeological investigations determined that no features, artifacts, or
cultural deposits located within the examined areas could be possibly linked to pre-1930s
Apache Scout use,” the historical research and oral interviews contributed significantly to
the understanding of the scouts, their families, and life-ways (Vanderpot and Majewski
1999:2). Herr and Wood (2004) looked at possible Apache sites within the Tonto
National Forest boundaries and suggested that even though there is evidence of Apache
presence it is still difficult to discern. They discuss possible research methods to approach
Apache archaeology including agave roasting pit testing and integration of oral and
ethnographic reports with archaeological interpretation to better understand Apache
archaeology. My own master’s thesis research (Laluk 2006) focused on the interpretation
of a historical-period Apache scout camp at Fort Apache, Arizona. Through historicalperiod literature review, archaeological interpretation, and White Mountain Apache
consultant perspectives, various aspects of historical-period Apache life-ways were
highlighted to better understand Apache archaeology through integrative research, which
stressed the Apache voice in order to tell their own history. Ferguson and ColwellChanthaphonh (2006) conducted a multivocal research study in the San Pedro River
valley area in southern Arizona. Their research included oral interviews and visits to
ancestral sites located proximate to the San Pedro river basin with various tribal entities
having ancestral and contemporary ties to the area including the Western Apache.
In 2009, Anthropological Research, L.L.C. (Krall and Randall 2009) conducted a
study of Shí Kéyaa (homeland) in the Heber Payson areas extending above and below the
Mogollon Rim. The study involved numerous interviews with Western Apache
consultants including site visits and interpretation of the archaeological record to better
understand past and contemporary associations to the research areas. Although not
directly linked to the integration of archaeological evidence and Apache oral testimony,
Ian Record’s (2008) research conducted with Western Apache cultural experts in the
Aravaipa area of Arizona provides an excellent compilation that reflects how Western
Apache descendants conceptualize their history and social identity in relation to their
former homeland along the Aravaipa Creek.
More recently Herr (et al. 2011) excavated four Apache components near Little
Green Valley, Arizona, and integrated on-site, in-field Western Apache oral testimony
and interviews with both archaeological and ethnographic evidence. Herr’s integration of
dating techniques and use of Apache oral testimony has demonstrated the need for
pluralistic research strategies concerning historical-period Apache life-ways. Despite
Herr’s recent pluralistic research strategy her research ran into complications and
problems when attempting to delineate Apache contexts from proposed Apache sites
through archaeological investigation including: (1) separating the Apache component
from earlier deposits due to erosion and ephemeral nature of Apache campsites; (2) the
recovery of datable samples; (3) problems with the radiocarbon curve in the historicalperiod; (4) forming dendrochronologies for certain areas due to lack of datable tree ring
samples; (5) the lack of other associated material to strengthen Apache presence (e.g.,
diagnostic artifacts, other structures); and (6) contamination due to erosion, rodent
activity, or vandalism. Despite the difficulties encountered by Herr, her intensive use of
Apache oral testimony integrated with archaeological field methods highlights the
importance of utilizing multiple datasets to better understand the Apache past.
Historical-Period Apache Battlefield Archaeology
It is essential to point out recent Apache battlefield archaeological research that
has been conducted in the U.S. Southwest (Arizona and New Mexico) as it relates to this
dissertation. Because much of the later historical-period Apache material traces have
been defined by the presence and/or modification of Euroamerican artifacts, battlefield
sites provide a unique look into Apache material culture during the late 1800s. Moreover,
various sites within the Chiricahua Mountains such as the location of 1869 Battle of
Chiricahua Pass site area and possible locations of U.S. military Apache scout camps
included in this dissertation, were visited with Apache cultural experts. Therefore, the
utilization of Apache battlefield archaeological evidence including battlefield areas,
residual material culture items and site visitation by Apache cultural experts assist in
forming a better understanding of the Apache past.
Despite site disturbance by relic hunters and metal detector enthusiasts many of
these sites remain remarkably intact and well preserved, yielding various Apache artifacts
that contribute to the development of a diagnostic checklist for late historical-period
Apache material culture (Adams 2000a, 2000b; Johnson et al. 2009; Laumbach et al.
2001; Ludwig and Stute 1993; Welch et al. 2005). Distinctive artifacts of European origin
(e.g., metal tinklers, metal projectile points, brass bracelets, and tweezers made from
spent bullet shell casings) as well as more general artifacts including glass beads, knives,
and cut metal are often associated with these types of sites, making it easier to identify
Apache occupations of certain areas. Much of this work has been conducted by Chris
Adams of the Gila National Forest in New Mexico. He conducted field research of
historical-period Apache-U.S. military battlefield sites at various areas on the forest.
Adams has applied various methods such as metal detector survey, ground penetrating
radar, and ballistics research to better understand late historical-period Apache battlefield
areas. Despite Adams’ (2000a and 2000b) and Herr’s (et al. 2011) research, a thorough,
overarching research methodology and framework for identifying and investigating
Apache sites still eludes researchers.
Previous Research on Apache Archaeology in Southeastern Arizona
In 1979, Gunnerson suggested, “the archaeology of other Apache groups west of
the Rio Grande is virtually unknown” (Gunnerson 1979:168). Gregory (1981) and Welch
(1997) discuss problems associated with delineating Apache landscape occupation from
the archaeological record. Both articles highlight the general problems with Apache
archaeology and suggest what future research should entail. Although both are focused
on the Western Apache—distinguished from the Eastern Apache by dialectical and
cultural differences—the problems pointed out concerning visibility, interpretation, and
identification of Apache presence are similar to problems associated with identifying
Chiricahua Apache contexts in southeastern Arizona. Ferg (2004) looked at various
Chiricahua and Mescalero Apache ceramic vessels from various contexts throughout
southern Arizona (e.g., Chiricahua Mountains, Dos Cabezas Mountains, and Apache Box
Canyon in New Mexico). Ferg’s research focused on the technological aspects, used
comparative collections, and employed ethnographic narratives to interpret possible
Southern Athapaskan ceramics. With the exception of Jicarilla Apache (an Apache group
located in northern New Mexico) pottery, however, “it is still commonly thought that
Chiricahua, Mescalero, and Western Apache made little or no pottery” (Kolber 1985:85;
Larson 1996:16; Whiteford 1988:63).
Despite the problems of identifying Apache sites in southeast Arizona, there have
been a few projects that suggest their presence. Coronado National Forest Heritage
Program staff conducted a para-archaeology training session with various forest service
personnel in the Dragoon Mountains in which various probable Apache sites were
recorded as well as some earlier cultural components (Gillespie and Farrell 1995). Recent
research by Seymour and Harlan (1996) examined areas of the Dragoon, Chiricahua, and
Peloncillo Mountain ranges. The research yielded eight sites of purported Apache origin,
which consist of rock shelters, a possible ambush site, an overlook, a house with roasting
pits, and roasting pits with a cairn and a mano cache (Seymour and Harlan 1996:3).
Sechrist (2008) has been involved in recording probable historical-period Chiricahua
Apache sites in the Chiricahua Mountains. His research has involved interpretation of
various rock-shelter sites within the Horseshoe Canyon area of the Chiricahua Mountains
that have associated probable Apache artifacts. Sechrist plans to interview some
Chiricahua representatives concerning his thesis research in the Chiricahua Mountains.
More recent research by Seymour (2008, 2009a, 2009b, 2010, 2013) in the Safford
area of Arizona, the Cañon Los Embudos area in Sonora, Mexico, the Hueco Mountains
in southern New Mexico, and the Peloncillo Mountains in southeast Arizona focused on
identifying Apache surface occupation and dwellings in the form of structural clearings
and cobbled rock rings with the aid of historical-period references and photographs. Her
research (2008) looked at early Athabaskan migrations by challenging the term
desplobado used by Coronado to describe the uninhabited areas encountered during the
expedition as it passed through the Safford basin area of southeastern Arizona. Seymour
argues that Athabaskan and early Apache peoples were present using radiocarbon dates
and critiques of the historical-period literature. Seymour’s (2013) most recent research
project concerning Apache presence in the U.S. Southwest in the Peloncillo Mountains
directly east of the Chiricahua Mountains across the San Simon Valley has identified
areas of probable Apache occupation, which include rock shelters, grass beds, possible
cleared wickiup areas, pictograph panels, a sparse concentration of chipped-stone
debitage, and possible Apache plain ware ceramics.
The Coronado National Forest has conducted a number of surveys of the area. A
survey on the western edge of the Dragoon Mountains, just across the Sulphur Springs
Valley from the Chiricahua Mountains, resulted in the nomination of the Council Rocks
Archaeological District to the National Register of Historic Places (Spoerl and Farrell
1996). Seymour (1996) also examined a site in the Dragoon Mountains for possible early
Mescalero and Chiricahua Apache presence. The study involved looking at proposed
material assemblages of Mescalero and Chiricahua groups and dating a few roasting pits
from areas within the Mogollon, Datil, and Dragoon mountain ranges. Seymour and
Robertson (2008) also have suggested evidence of the Cochise-Howard Treaty Campsite
south of the proposed research area. Her research involved historical-period literature and
Coronado National Forest site file review as well as historical-period photo and
archaeological evidence to locate the area. Sechrist (2008) notes, however, that previous
archaeological surveys encompass less than five percent of the “sky islands” managed by
the Forest Service and representing various mountain ranges in southern Arizona with
diverging ecosystems, which include the Chiricahua Mountains.
Although these works, including Seymour’s more recent research (2004, 2008,
2009a, 2009b, 2010, 2013), have made strides in expanding the definition of Apache sites
based upon analysis of historical-period material culture including dwellings and
features, flaked-stone assemblages, and historical-period photographs, I think that more
pluralistic approaches are needed involving Apache participation in all project
components. Seymour’s work is contributing to a better understanding of historicalperiod Apache life ways but there is a void that needs to be filled by focusing on interApache tribal collaboration and interpretation of their homeland, landscape, and material
remains. The absence of these voices in any research project focused on studying the
Apache past takes away a valuable component of integrative research and the multi-vocal
necessities needed to form a better understanding of the Apache past through multiple
lines of evidence. Moreover, because the majority of Apache history was recorded by
non-Apache researchers I agree with Gillespie (2000:1) that “the completeness and
perspective of recorded history are unquestionably and unavoidably extremely limited
and biased.” Furthermore, these sources often interpret Apache history through
Westernized anthropological paradigms (e.g., acculturation, assimilation, and
ethnogenesis), which have led to narrow perceptions concerning Apache culture and
history. The public’s perceptions of Apache culture and history are often even worse,
based upon derogatory stereotypes and nineteenth-century propaganda about warring
savages (Basso 1983:462; Welch 1997). As Welch (2008:108) suggests, “many Apaches
have different perspectives on their history and culture, regrettably little of which has
been recorded.” The integration of multiple Apache tribal perspectives, which this
dissertation will demonstrate, can unlock various social processes and understandings of
the Apache past that archaeology alone cannot reach.
Cusick (1998:1) defines the concept of culture contact as the study of contacts
between cultural groups in any place and time in human world history. According to
Silliman (2005:58), “Contact, or culture contact, stands as a general term used by
archaeologists to refer to groups of people coming into or staying in contact for days,
years, decades, centuries or even millennia.” I partially agree with Cusick’s definition in
the sense it does not limit the definition to culture contact or archaeology of colonialism
studies involving European-Indigenous North American populations, but considers
world-wide interactions. However, Silliman’s additional discussion points out a
fundamental shortcoming of Cusick’s definition in that Indigenous people, particularly in
North America, find that colonizers “attacks on their cultural traditions, heritage and lives
more politically charged than simple ‘contact’ might convey” (Silliman 2005:57).
Moreover, Silliman’s examination of the theoretical, historical, and political implications
behind the concepts of “culture contact” and “colonialism” suggests that the term
“contact” significantly downplays the plethora of cultural changes and intercultural
interactions that occurred as a result of colonial activities. Furthermore, Silliman’s
recognition that it is necessary for archaeologists to “revisit our disciplinary terminology
and implications of our work for the descendants who bear the legacy of colonialism”
demonstrates the need for research strategies that recognize that much of the past United
States colonial efforts are still being felt strongly today by American Indian populations.
As Orser (2010:111) suggests, future archaeological research not only has the potential
but promises, “to offer diverse perspectives that will deepen our appreciation of how the
past influences the present.”
By stressing the diversity of interactions between different social agents, time
periods, and contexts the definition is also useful because it moves beyond the focus of
colonial period or culture contact archaeology centered on Europeans/Euroamericans, or
on the effects of European colonization efforts upon Indigenous peoples (Hart, Oland,
and Frink 2012:3). Similarly, Lightfoot (1995) indicates that the colonial period in the
U.S. was just one point on the trajectory linking pre-contact and contemporary Native
American communities. Expanding upon Lightfoot’s statement with a more
contemporary declaration of the often one-sided nature of colonialism studies utilizing
archaeological methodologies, Colwell-Chanthaphonh (2010:49) suggests, “even as
increasing numbers of archaeologists seek to overcome the discipline’s history, Native
Americans are still today suffering from America’s colonialist policies and programs.”
These recognitions demonstrate the fact that American Indian-European colonial
interactions were more dynamic than what has been previously suggested and speculated.
Other factors, experiences, and occurrences took place that affected the dynamics of
American Indian-Euroamerican interactions.
More recently, Cowie and her colleagues (2012:1) further recognize these early
anthropological trends in reference to the American Indian colonial experience and
suggest “most research addressed the interactions between native and non-native groups
by emphasizing short-term interactions, processes of acculturation, sudden and dramatic
changes in Indigenous life-ways, and power relationships in the form of domination and
resistance.” However, as Pertulla (2010:9) states, “simple dichotomous models of culture
contact and change are being replaced by approaches that examine agency, individual
choices, social memory, and practices/traditions among different Native American
groups.” Both statements by Cowie et al. (2012) and Pertulla (2010) demonstrate a
needed shift in theoretical modeling and research frameworks to a more humanistic,
agent-based approaches that better explains the Indigenous past(s) through Indigenous
experiences, perceptions, and knowledge systems.
Culture Contact and Archaeology of Colonialism Research Studies
Various scholars (Cusick 1998; Loren 2008; Pertulla 2010:1; Silliman 2005a,
2005b) have recognized research concerning American Indian and European populations
culture contact in North America has a long history that can be traced back to the
foundations of anthropological and archaeological discourse. However, many early-mid
twenty-first century studies focused largely on notions of how well American Indian
populations were adjusting to modern American civilized culture (e.g., Dozier 1961;
French 1937; Herskovits 1938; Quimby and Spoehr 1957; Spicer 1961; Stewart 1952).
Later twentieth century research concerning the archaeology of colonial
encounters has explored numerous topics emerging from American Indian-European-
Euroamerican interactions including effects of epidemic disease, demographic change,
domination, introduction of new plants/animals and land loss and American Indian
responses to these phenomena (Cook 1998; Deagan 1973, 1983 1998; Dobyns 1991;
Leibmann and Preucel 2007; Lightfoot et al. 2013; Martin 1994; Pertulla et al. 2010;
Ramenofsky 1987; Singleton 1998; Upham 1992; Wilson and Rogers et al. 1993). For the
most part, these studies have continued to focus on such concepts as assimilation,
acculturation, crystallization, and ethnogenesis without focus or efficient attention given
to the Indigenous experience in reference to colonial encounters over time.
More recently, historical-period archaeological studies focused on acculturation
have been critiqued by scholars such as Kent Lightfoot (1995), Patricia Rubertone
(2000), and Stephen Silliman (2001, 2009) for interpreting Native Americans “as either
bold resistors whose every action was in reaction to non-Natives’ actions, as victims who
lost not only their lives but their cultures, or as passive recipients of European life-ways”
(Cowie et al. 2012:1). By focusing more on the Indigenous experience through such
concepts as resilience, cultural maintenance, place, and Indigenous knowledge systems,
better understanding of the ways in which Indigenous populations legitimize and
rationalize the past in reference to their own thoughts and worldviews can be achieved.
Moreover, by recognizing that in various Indigenous contexts the past is
inseparable and intricately associated with the present, researchers can enhance mutually
beneficial, respectful relationships between Indigenous communities and non-Indigenous
researchers. A good example of this kind of collaborative work involving the archaeology
of American Indian and European interactions is The Eastern Pequot Archaeological
Field School. Working for an extended period of time and very closely with the Pequot
Tribe, the school has advanced and developed over the entirety of the project. Two ways
the field school advanced and developed as a result of long-term collaboration with the
Pequot are (1) reframing the school in ways that were conducive to cultural sensitivities
about the reservation and Ancestral landscape; and (2) placing tobacco offerings in every
open excavation unit and the ritual smudging of all project participants (Silliman
I agree with Silliman (2009:292) that “the archaeology of North American
colonial encounters provides the vital link between the deep, rooted history of Native
Americans on the continent and their contemporary cultures and struggles in today’s
world in the legacy of colonialism.” However, this link has to be negotiated and
integrated with the best interests and contemporary perspectives of tribal and Indigenous
entities in order to move beyond research that places the goals of non-Indigenous
researchers ahead of those of the Indigenous groups being examined. More recent
research attempts to portray native experiences during colonial encounters as more real
and active than previously viewed. This shift is achieved by replacing earlier theoretical
models focusing on assimilation and acculturation with those that stress identity retention
and cultural maintenance. For example, Ewen’s (2000) study attempted to highlight
identity in the face of the Spanish mission system. Although the Spanish attempted to
convert the local Apalachee population to Catholicism by altering traditional Native
practices, the tribe was able to maintain much of their precontact traditions.
Mullins and Paynter’s (2000) research demonstrates how the Haida, instead of
being dominated or resisting, revamped their identities by exploiting the Europeans ideas
of the exotic and foreign. This study is useful for the archaeology of
Indigenous/European interactions because it places the Haida as social agents who
manipulated a colonialist system for their own benefit. Paynter (2000) attempts to review
various contributions to “historical archaeology” in the United States in reference to the
last 500 years of American Indian-European interactions. Paynter (2000:170) reviews
various studies of the “interplay of race, class, gender and state formation…as ways in
which the complexities of modern life came into existence after Columbus twisted
together the histories of the Western and Eastern hemispheres.” This is relevant to this
dissertation because it recognizes the unique interweaving of various cultural systems
rather than focusing solely on individual societal phenomena, which helps archaeologists
understand the past as imbued with diverse meanings, distinct knowledge systems and
Voss (2002) has explored changing social identities in the use of archaeological
materials through the examination of the ethnic, gendered and racial identities of
colonists at El Presidio de San Francisco as well as how a double material strategy
“heightened distinctions between colonists and local Indigenous populations” (Voss
2002:461). Voss (2005) reasoned that evolution of non-Indigenous social identities (e.g.,
ethnogenesis) at the presidio was structured through preferred material choices, which
were manifested in architectural change including increasing the size of the presidio
plaza. Her conclusion that the local non-Indigenous populations negotiated identity
through ethnogenesis—the creation of a new cultural identity—is important to the
understanding of the social dynamics of the San Francisco Presidio, but focuses more on
the experience of the colonizer and less on the Indigenous experience.
A more recent study by Voss (2008) examines the so-called “St. Augustine”
pattern pioneered by Kathleen Deagan (1973, 1983). Voss’ research challenges Deagan’s
binary approach to artifact analysis and how such phenomena as intermarriage between
colonial men and Indigenous women caused cultural transformations in Spanish colonial
settlements. Voss argues that analytical focus on such everyday activities as labor offers a
more useful approach to the study of the St. Augustine past (Voss 2008:861-862). The
study is important to the archaeology of colonialism in the Americas because not only
does it challenge a long-time principle study within the milieu of historical archaeology,
but offers insight into the study of colonialism through variability in labor. On another
level, and important to this dissertation, is the study of the continued evolution of Voss’
work in reference to unitary categorizations continually made by archaeologists in
reference to material items and their link to time periods. As Silliman points out in his
review of Voss’ work, “colonialism is not monolithic…but we continue to have a hard
time coming to terms with that when ontological categories of analysis restrict the
interpretive horizons” (Silliman 2008:884).
Although such studies demonstrate the ability of archaeological research to
contribute to a better understanding of how American Indian populations negotiated
increased interactions of Euroamerican groups, I agree with Whiteley (2002) that studies
which include Indigenous viewpoints and perspectives integrated with archaeological
inquiry are more effective at challenging the conclusions of existing research. These
approaches provide a richer understanding of historical-period American IndianEuroamerican interactions. Because archaeology is “frequently viewed as a colonialist
enterprise with continuing political undertones” (Watkins 2005:441) collaborative,
multivocal research using multiple lines of evidence, while constantly stressing American
Indian perspectives and research interests, can illuminate much about the past that
archaeology alone cannot reach.
The American Indian Experience: Moving Toward a Multivocal History
Rubertone suggests (2000:426) there “has been an unwillingness to break free of
conceptual models that have marginalized Native peoples and have tethered them to
written sources (and the histories informed by them).” Attempts to understand the
Indigenous past through Westernized conceptual models are problematic when studying
Indigenous histories because they tend to “place Indigenous peoples in a temporal
framework in which colonizers are the primary agents of change and Indigenous
identities are defined in Western terms” (Hart, Oland and Frink 2012:1). Moreover, for
the most part, previous research has been produced by non-American Indian researchers
interpreting the past. The lack of the Indigenous voice in reference to American Indian
reactions to periods of dynamic change has left a void in understandings of the past. As
Deloria (1997:221) suggests, “we have the opportunity to leave the colonial mentality
behind us and bring the accumulated knowledge and insights of anthropology to bear on
the larger area of human activities.” Furthermore, Lightfoot (1995) recognizes the need
for pluralistic approaches and promotes historical documents research as revelations of
the time during which they were recorded rather than as analogues for reconstructing the
past (Lightfoot 1995:211).
My own Masters thesis research (Laluk 2006) integrated theoretical approaches
from Silliman’s (2001) active residency and practical politics, White’s (1991) “Middle-
Ground” work, and Apache landscape knowledge to better understand dynamic instances
of cultural maintenance in response increased Euroamerican interactions at Fort Apache,
Arizona. Practical politics refers to “the politics of social position and identity in daily
practices” (Silliman 2001:194). The concept is useful because it broadens the scope of
political relevance to include everyday practices and the lived experiences of individuals.
Moreover, my prior research employed the practical politics concept to better understand
how Apache people negotiated their lives by “actively residing” in each other’s’ unique
environments. Active residency thus means not only living or occupying a certain site
such as a domestic residency within each other’s milieus, but how each group,
particularly the Apache, were actively residing in each other’s social environments.
Apache people were able to actively reside within these unfamiliar environments by
adapting and using landscape knowledge to manipulate somewhat alien ways of life to
arrive at a “middle ground” (White 1991). White defines the middle ground as:
“a place where diverse peoples adjust their differences through what amounts as a
process of creative, and often expedient misunderstandings. People try to
persuade others who are different from themselves by appealing to what they
perceive to be the values and practices of others. They often misinterpret and
distort both the values and the practices of those they deal with, but from these
misunderstandings arise meanings and new practices – the shared meanings and
practices of the middle ground” (White 1991:X).
My goal in utilizing this research paradigm of practical politics, active residency,
the middle ground, and Apache landscape knowledge was to expand upon more recent
models of colonialism. By focusing on more humanistic view of the past in reference to
American Indian agency, residency, resistance, and cultural maintenance, I hoped to form
a better understanding of Apache experiences that moves beyond earlier models of
acculturation and assimilation. Apache people were actively residing in their own world
through manipulation of material items and their own inherent abilities as Apache scouts
to arrive at a middle ground. This demonstrates how Apache people were actively
involved agents manipulating various circumstances to their own benefit, rather than
oppressed non-participatory social agents simply passively accepting their fate by being
absorbed into Euroamerican culture (Laluk 2006:61).
Silliman (2004:8) suggests that even though places were localities where colonial
power structured interactions and roles; they were also places where Native individuals
could frequently navigate alternate courses, at least in daily practice. Examining the Fort
Apache scout camp with Apache consultants allowed me to view Apache responses to the
past and the environmental landscape that moved beyond traditional models of American
Indian responses to increased Euroamerican interaction, and as Silliman suggests, where
Native people navigated alternate courses in daily practices. The Apache social process
embedded in the landscape (as I will later discuss) that comes to life through stories and
songs present the need for collaborative projects that stress mutually beneficial,
respectful, and responsible collaborative research. This is extremely important for
collaborative work because we can begin to see the benefits these types of knowledge can
contribute to better recognition of Apache sites on the landscape. More importantly, by
recognizing issues of extreme importance to Apache communities’ researchers can assist
Apache communities in more effective collective management of the landscape.
From the recognition of issues of substantive contemporary importance to Apache
communities better understanding of past and present social interactions, landscape
associations, and past theoretical models can be expanded upon. They can demonstrate
not only how Indigenous people rationalize their everyday their life in reference to the
past, present, and future, but how these intricate rationalizations for personal and social
identities can be used to co-manage ancestral lands and expand upon colonial models of
Indigenous peoples and Euroamerican populations. For example, Basso suggests that
perceiving and discussing the landscape is a “venerable means of doing human
history…a way of constructing social traditions and, in the process, personal and social
identities” (Basso 1996:7).
Because landscape features such as hearths are maintained by women, stories told
in this context suggest how Apache adoption of certain Euroamerican materials indicate a
rewriting of how these materials are used (i.e., active residency and the middle ground).
Stories (Apache landscape knowledge) are told, and villages are organized according to
the Apache woman’s conception of the landscape, allowing archaeologists to better
understand how Apache people rationalize their lifestyles and worldviews through
Apache knowledge systems. Therefore, according to Basso’s statement, such
archaeological features as the Western Apache hearth are not only part of the landscape
but a vital constituent of the Apache social world. Women in Apache society are
considered the spiritual and social hub of Apache existence. Because of this inherent role,
the hearth becomes alive with much meaning (Laluk 2006:19).
Similarly, recent work by Silliman (2009) attempts to better understand the
Indigenous past through collaborative research process that not only involves American
Indian communities as active players but highlights the necessity for modifying research
strategies to address contemporary American Indian concerns. His recent work (Silliman
2004, 2005a, 2005b, 2009) has contributed significantly to understandings of
collaborative anthropological work with Indigenous communities, and how pluralistic
archaeological studies enhance our knowledge of the historical-period past. Silliman’s
(2001) work at the Rancho Petaluma site in California embraces the innovative research
suggested by Lightfoot. He uses material remains in the form of lithic material not only to
suggest that lithic tools made by Native peoples at Rancho Petaluma served functional
and economic needs, but also indicates how social relations can be brought to life to
activate and solidify a nineteenth century identity (Silliman 2001:204). As a result of his
long-term collaboration with the Eastern Pequot Tribal Nation of Connecticut Silliman
has modified his research strategies from the commonly focused themes of cultural
continuity and change to study the Pequot communities “responses to colonialism and
reservation life though a variety of postcolonial lenses” (Silliman 2009:211-212).
Moreover, Silliman’s (2009:213, 226) long-standing association with the Pequot, and
observations of the variable and multitude of responses to colonialism and reservation life
illuminate the important fact that what we do as archaeologists has consequences for
Indigenous communities. These consequences, brought on by our historic and
archaeological interpretations, can have devastating effects on contemporary tribal well
being that “directly impacts issues of authenticity, sovereignty, and other aspects” of
everyday tribal life (Silliman 2009:213). This recognition is extremely important for
archaeologists working with American Indian communities to understand and respect.
Too often, due to once-a-month visitations, minimal field seasons, semester long data
collection trips, and even our own research agendas archaeologists rarely cultivate an
understanding of how potentially detrimental their own research can be for contemporary
American Indian communities.
These recent studies focusing on Indigenous social agents and their continuous
inseparable ties to the land base are necessary for the future and evolution of a more
holistic archaeology in reference to American Indian and European interactions through
time. As Hart, Oland, and Frink (2012:3) suggest, regarding archaeologists attempts to
compartmentalize these experiences into defined time periods and categories, “these
event horizons are critical historical contingencies that must be carefully parsed by
engaging a broader cultural and historical perspective.” Moreover, archaeologists have to
remain reflexive and responsible in reference to their own archaeological interpretations,
especially when working collaboratively with tribal entities because, as Silliman sternly
suggests, “Our interpretations need to be sensitive to the social memory of the those past
actors rather than to the commonsense notions of mainstream social memory that
“remembers”—selectively, politically—what an Indian should and should not look like
or like.” (Silliman 2009:227). If, as archaeologists, we can be responsive to the sensitivity
brought on by studies of colonialism and the concomitant repercussions of U.S. American
Indians colonial efforts that are still felt and very much alive in the land and minds
contemporary tribal people today, then we can possibly address issues of importance to
tribal entities from the past, present and ultimately the future.
“There is no one Native American archaeological point of view. There are as many
different views as there are people in the issue”
Desireé Reneé Martinez (2006:490)
Overview of Indigenous Archaeology in the U.S.
Various circumstances and historical occurrences contributed to the development
of Indigenous archaeology in North America (Atalay et al. 2014; Downer 1997; Ferguson
1996; Kehoe 1998; McGuire 1992a; Nicholas and Andrews 1997; Trigger 1980; Watkins
2000) ranging from past interactions between American Indians and archaeologists to
other factors, including theoretical, legal and major influences of key Indigenous scholars
However, because of “Indigenous archaeologies” status as an evolving concept within the
framework of archaeological theory, Indigenous communities “have had few roles in
shaping the research that explores their past—little voice in telling their story, little
control over their history” (Colwell-Chanthaphonh 2012:267). Only in recent years have
Indigenous North American communities begun to challenge conventional theories of
archaeology to better include American Indian worldviews.
Approaches and Definitions of Indigenous Archaeology in the U.S.
Before exploring history of the development Indigenous archaeology, it is
important to look at how this history has been approached and defined by scholars of
Indigenous archaeology. Because this dissertation was a collaborative archaeological
research project, a review of the history of Indigenous archaeology and various
developments in archeological theory and U.S. cultural resource legislation is necessary
for readers who are not familiar with this history and how it has contributed to the
practice of Indigenous archaeology today. Other contributions including those key
American Indian scholars and the establishment of tribal museums are also briefly
discussed. The experiences that Indigenous scholars such as Vine Deloria Jr. and the first
President of the Society of American Archaeology, Arthur C. Parker, experienced with
non-native professional anthropologists-archeologists are essential to mention in the
context of this dissertation. As an Indigenous archaeologist I have dealt with various
issues and stereotypes throughout my professional and academic training and experience
as well. Because moving toward professional equality beyond academia is so important
to the positive evolution of collaborative archaeological work with American Indian
communities it is necessary to mention the contributions of both Vine Deloria Jr. and
Arthur C. Parker to the development of Indigenous archaeology in the U.S.
Silliman (2006) recognizes the collaborative efforts between Indigenous peoples
and archaeologists and the undermining of westernized authority to interpret the past as
“Indigenous Archaeology.” Nicholas and Andrews (1997) define the actual practice of
Indigenous archaeology as embracing an archaeology for, with, and by Indigenous
peoples. Such acceptance greatly facilitates practice of Indigenous archeology. It
promotes methods, theories, and practices amenable to Indigenous needs, histories,
perspectives, and worldviews (Silliman 2006:12). Others (Lightfoot 1995; Rubertone
2000; Torrence and Clarke 2003) have looked at the archaeology of the recent Indigenous
past, or “the historical archaeology of Indigenous peoples,” (Williamson and Harrison
2002:xiii) labeling this as culture contact or the archaeology of cross-cultural
engagements. Although these researchers do not define their work as Indigenous
archaeology, their emphasis on American Indian involvement contributes to what should
qualify as “Indigenous archaeology.” Bernardini (2005), correctly stated that
incorporating Native American knowledge into archaeological research is not only a way
to establish meaningful dialogue with an important constituency, but a way to improve
our collective understanding of the past. And importantly, Smith and Wobst (2005)
recognized that Indigenous archaeologies remain fluid and situational, allowing them to
be diverse and adapt to different contexts. More recently, Nicholas (2010) has attempted
to identify the broad scope of Indigenous archaeology and has provided a list of what
Indigenous archaeology seeks to accomplish. Colwell-Chanthaphonh (2009:10)
suggested that Indigenous archaeology “provides an epochal path through the wilderness
of the discipline’s future, a blending of arts and sciences that will create more just and
accurate understandings of the past and the nature of our material world.”
Perhaps the most balanced/inclusive definition of “Indigenous archaeology” to
date comes from Nicholas’ (2008:1160) definition from the Encyclopedia of Archaeology:
“Indigenous archaeology is an expression of archaeological theory and practice which the
discipline intersects with Indigenous values, knowledge, practices, ethics, and
sensibilities, and through collaborative and community-originated or -directed projects,
and related critical perspectives. Indigenous archaeology seeks to (1) make archaeology
more representative of, responsible to and relevant for Indigenous communities; (2)
redress real and perceived inequalities in the practice of archaeology; and (3) inform and
broaden the understanding and interpretation of the archaeological record through the
incorporation of Aboriginal worldviews, histories and science.”
Although Nicholas suggests this definition is “basic,” it does advocate and stress
the many necessary components of what recent scholars dealing with American Indian
communities through collaborative projects are recognizing as a result of their own
experiences working with descendant groups.
Colwell-Chanthaphonh and colleagues (2010:228) suggest that Indigenous
archaeology is “now defined by, for and with Indigenous communities to challenge the
disciplines intellectual breadth and political economy.” This definition is more decolonial
in nature than the definition provided by Nicholas because it stresses the political nature
of the concept more assertively, suggesting the need for past models to be expanded
and/or challenged. Dorothy Lippert (2008b) indicated that Indigenous archaeology is the
application of ways descendants relate to objects, historical knowledge, ancestors, ancient
places, and cultural resources. This idea is useful because it suggests that we apply
perspectives that tribal entities think are necessary to protect, care for, and maintain
cultural heritage resources. Her application goes beyond basic recognition and the
repetitive re-hashing of themes of commonality represented by varying contexts of
dialogue amongst tribal entities. Similarly, White Mountain Apache Tribe Historic
Preservation Officer, Mark Altaha suggests, “I don't think that you can specifically define
Indigenous archaeology. I'd imagine each tribe would have their own version or
interpretation of this. It would be what the individual tribe’s value as being sensitive to
them...in a broader perspective, I guess it is what is deemed important to each individual
tribe” (Altaha, personal communication 2013). This quote echo’s Lippert’s (2008b)
suggestion of what the concept of Indigenous archaeology should be in reference to what
is important and valuable to tribal folks as living descendants. At the same time it
emphatically asserts the variation of tribal nations, and if possible, that tribal nations will
define the concept of Indigenous archaeology in their own ways based upon their own
unique and inherent tribal identities.
Regardless of how “Indigenous archaeology” is approached and defined, it has
emerged as “a fresh paradigm, encompassing any form of archaeology conducted in
collaboration with Native communities and that challenges the historical political
economy of the discipline” (Chanthaphonh 2009:100). Moreover, collaboration with
descendent communities moves archaeology away from its underpinnings of western
empirical ways of knowing into what Kenny (2009:22) has labeled “subaltern
historiography.” This concept, as Kenny suggests (2009:22), “decenters the experiences
of dominate groups as universal and challenges the ways of identifying, talking about and
writing history by pointing to other experiences, values, and ways of communicating with
the past.” American Indian communities and archaeologists must recognize that the
heritage of native peoples is, in fact, a contemporary phenomenon, rather than simply
something that existed in the past (Carmichael et al. 1997:1). In this way they can
undertake collaborative research that both enables Native groups to shape their own
future through collaborative research and develops meaningful, mutually beneficial,
respectful relationships.
Archaeological Theoretical Contributions to the Development of Indigenous
Archaeology in the U.S.
Processualism Influence
Joseph Caldwell’s (1959) recognition of a “New Archaeology” resulted in the
development of research focusing on questions pertaining to ecology and settlement
patterns, which moved away from a focus on artifact types and culture-history that most
previous archaeological work was based on. The New Archaeology impacted the
development of Indigenous archeology because “the New Archaeology stressed the
creativity of native North Americans to a much greater extent than diffusionist
explanations had done and for the first time placed native people on a equal footing in
this respect with Europeans and other ethnic groups” (Trigger 1990:315). This marked
progress in the development of Indigenous archaeology because “Native cultures were
considered as creative as European cultures” (Ferguson 1996:65).
Archaeologists gave little consideration to their own research methods, however,
including the excavation of burials and archaeological interpretation, with reference to
how American Indian people felt about this research (Ferguson 1996:65). Processual
archaeology also witnessed a reemergence of ethnoarchaeology (e.g., Longacre and
Ayres 1968). Ethnoarchaeologists working with and in living Indigenous communities
contributed to the development of Indigenous archaeology in that they embraced studying
the past through the integration of American Indian perceptions with archaeological data
(e.g., Longacre and Ayres 1968). Moreover, as Trigger (1980) suggests, the New
Archaeology, with its emphasis on internal culture change, served to dispel the once
common image of Native people as uncreative and culturally static. However, as Trigger
notes, “despite some involvement on behalf of Indians in land claims cases, most
processual archaeologists remained as spiritually alienated from Native North Americans
as their predecessors had been in the nineteenth century” (Trigger 1990:316).
Post-Processualism Influence
During the 1980s, a new postmodern theoretical framework emerged as a critique
of processual archaeology. Post-processual archaeology sought to move away from
empirical scientific paradigms toward explanations of the past based upon relativist
viewpoints and the juxtaposition of multiple frames of reference. Post-processual
archaeology focuses on diversity asking questions like “whose archaeologies?” This
prompted studies of imperialism, western capitalism, and feminist and gender
archaeologies and Indigenous archaeologies (Ellis et al. 2000:494). Post-processualism’s
deconstruction of the roots of archaeological production has challenged the positivist
attitudes of scientists in modern archaeology. This has contributed to a focus on diversity
of people’s pasts (Ellis et al. 2000:494).
In this sense, post-processual archaeological theory contributed to the
development of an Indigenous archaeology by shifting the focus away from the scientific
objective, which many tribes rejected because it prioritized the purported empirical nature
of science as a primary explanatory tool and discounted tribal views of their own past.
Moreover, post-processual archaeologies’ emphasis on pluralistic approaches to the
interpretation of the archeological record allowed Indigenous peoples to be active
participants in collaborative studies that benefited management and preservation of their
cultural heritage resources (e.g., Dongoske et al. 2000; Kerber et al. 2006; Swidler et al.
1997). More recently, archaeologists are embracing tribal views concerning the past and
innovatively incorporating these views and perspectives into various professional
academic and compliance-based projects that are contributing to better relations between
archaeologists/anthropologists and American Indian communities and also provide
alternative explanations in reference to the past.
Civil Rights Activism and Vine Deloria Jr.
Civil rights movements and recent legislation passed because of increased
lobbying efforts by American Indian groups have also contributed to the emergence of a
more tribally controlled archaeology. This emergence fostered tribal interest in protecting
and interpreting archaeological resources from tribal points of view. In 1971, Maria
Pearson fought for reburial of a Native woman found in a cemetery in Iowa. She
complained that the project was discriminatory because most of the non-Indian remains
were reburied, but the woman was not. Similarly, during a 1971 dig in Minnesota,
members of AIM “confiscated equipment, burned field notes and backfilled trenches”
due to irritation that archaeologists were digging up graves (Thomas 2000:198-199).
Through AIM activities American Indian peoples have asserted claims and rights to
protect their heritage and ancestors. This directly contributed to the development of
Indigenous archaeology.
Years after this, other American Indian community members staged protests at
various archaeological excavation sites and road side attractions exhibiting
American Indian remains and cultural items (Atalay 2006a:288). Because of AIM,
Atalay suggests, “There is now a growing literature of academic publications,
documentaries and popular books describing activism around reburial and
repatriation, which demonstrates the critical role that activism played in bringing
about legislative changes and dramatic shifts in archaeological practices” (Atalay
The publication of Vine Deloria’s Custer Died For Your Sins (1969) and Dee
Brown’s Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee (1971) influenced the development of
Indigenous archaeology. Before these publications, as Watkins suggests, “American
Indians shared an uneasy truce with anthropology and its sub-discipline of archaeology”
(Watkins 2000:3). Excerpts from the text published in Playboy increased public
awareness regarding American Indians’ feelings toward the discipline of anthropology.
Deloria’s influence on the discipline of anthropology “has been such that working
with any ethnic or cultural group now reflects a different protocol than before”
(Grobsmith 1997:45). Grobsmith further suggests, “those of us “raised on Deloria” have
had built into our knowledge of our discipline issues of ethics and morality, legality and
propriety, jurisdiction, and self-determination, seldom considered by pre-1950s
ethnographers” (1997:45). Almost three decades after the publication of Custer Died for
Your Sins various scholars joined together and contributed chapters to the volume Indians
& Anthropologists: Vine Deloria Jr. and the Critique of Anthropology delineating the
impacts of Deloria’s works. Two of the contributors, Larry Zimmerman (1997) and
Randall McGuire (1997), indicated how Deloria’s influence changed the way they
practiced anthropology becoming more aware of not only the ways American Indians felt
about archaeologists but the necessity to look at the past from different lenses.
Deloria’s critique not only forced researchers to reevaluate their anthropological
practices, but was one of the primary influences setting the stage for future assertions of
Indigenous control over their ancestral resources. Although some anthropologists and
archeologists have critiqued Deloria’s work his impacts on generations of scholars is
immeasurable. As Watkins suggests in Deloria’s obituary, “Vine Deloria Jr., probably
had more of an impact on the discipline than many of us practicing the craft today will
have” (Watkins 2006:506).
Establishment of Tribal Museums and Cultural Preservation Programs
The establishment of the Navajo Tribal Museum in 1956 marked the beginning of
tribal involvement in an archaeological and historical research program (Watkins
2003:278). Moreover, the establishment of the Navajo Nation Cultural Resources
Management Program in 1977 allowed the Navajo Nation to combine professional
anthropological expertise with traditional Navajo customs (Klesert and Downer
1990:116). In this sense, the Navajo Nation contributed to the development of Indigenous
archaeology by creating heritage protection programs according to ways in which they
see fit to best manage their own resources within reservation boundaries.
Since 1977, “the Pueblo of Zuni have been actively involved in the repatriation
of cultural property and human remains (Ferguson, Anyon and Ladd 1996:251). The
Zuni have also been involved in cultural preservation programs that have blended
culturally appropriate tribal scientific procedures and the involvement of tribal leaders
(Watkins 2003:278). Moreover, during the 1980s, there was a dramatic rise in American
Indian participation in historic preservation and cultural heritage resource management
(King 2004:29), with other tribes besides the Navajo and Zuni creating historic
preservation programs. Furthermore, the National Association of Tribal Historic
Preservation Officers (NATHPO), the overall managing entity of most tribally controlled
historic preservation programs—mainly those with Tribal Historic Preservation Office
status has contributed to the development of Indigenous archaeology in various ways. For
example, because the overall mission of NATHPO “is to support the preservation,
maintenance and revitalization of the culture and traditions of Native peoples of the
United States” (http://nathpo.org/aboutnathpo.htm). Tribes who have or who are hoping
to establish Tribal Historic Preservation Offices contact NATHPO personnel for guidance
for appropriate process and assistance with various cultural issues. Moreover,
NATHPO’s activities also include monitoring the U.S. Congress, Administration, and
state activities on issues that affect all Tribes and monitoring the effectiveness of
federally mandated compliance reviews and identification, evaluation, and management
of tribal historic properties (http://nathpo.org/aboutnathpo.htm). Two of the publications
from these activities, Tribal Consultation Best Management Practices in Historic
Preservation and Federal Agency Implementation of NAGPRA, benefit the continued
development of Indigenous archaeology in the U.S. because they outline specific
processes for two crucial issues in Indian country today—consultation and
implementation of NAGPRA. Although not acting as the embodiment of these issues the
publications assist tribes in dealing with Federal and State entities by attempting to
outline specific ways in which tribes can provide their perspectives regarding
consultation and NAGPRA implementation empowering tribal sovereignty through
enhanced management of cultural heritage resources.
I think that Indigenous archaeology is uniquely defined by establishment of
tribally managed museums and cultural preservation programs. The umbrella of
NATHPO for many tribal historic preservation programs contributes to this concept by
not only providing tribal heritage programs with guidance and a voice on such issues as
consultation practices and NAGPRA, but the inherent right of tribal Nations to selfgovern their own cultural heritage resources on and off trust lands.
U.S. Development of Indigenous Archaeology: Key Legislation
The passage of various pieces of key legislation, both indirectly and directly
associated with the protection of cultural heritage resources, also has contributed to the
development of Indigenous archaeology in the U.S. Therefore, the next section of this
dissertation will underscore some of this major legislation, and delineate how each law
has contributed to the progression of Indigenous archaeology in the U.S.
Indian Self-Determination and Education Act of 1975
With the enactment of the Indian Self-Determination and Education Act of 1975,
“tribes attained a new level of authority in the government’s administration of its trust
responsibilities” (King 2004:26). The Indian Self Determination and Education Act
provided that tribes could contract to run education and health programs themselves. The
second part of the act provided for more Indian control of schools educating Indian
Tribal nations and other organizations began to press for more governmental
consideration for protection of their cultural heritage resources as well (King 2000:19).
Because the act created a statutory climate for a real reawakening of tribal efforts, some
tribes took advantage of the statute. For example, the “Zuni Plan” developed by Zuni
Pueblo of New Mexico looked to “preserve tribal access to a variety of federal programs
while at the same time cutting the “umbilical cord that tied tribal affairs to BIA control”
(Deloria, Jr. and Lytle 1983:104). By assuming federal functions on tribal lands over such
things as road building and housing activities as provided for in the Indian SelfDetermination and Assistance Act tribes can assert more of a tribal voice than in the past
because these projects fall under Section 106 review, which mandates consultation when
projects may have an adverse effect on historical and cultural properties (King 2000:44).
In this sense, the Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act contributed to
the development of Indigenous archaeology by integrating a tribal voice in response to
federal projects that are tribally controlled and not the responsibility of the BIA.
The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966
The passage of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) in 1966
established a National Register of Historic Places and mandated a review process
(Section 106) for federal undertakings that may have an effect on historic properties.
However, NHPA’s passage was solely consistent with Euroamerican practices regarding
the definition of historic sites and properties (Tsosie 1997:71). It was not until
amendments to the legislation in 1992 that tribal on-reservation needs were considered in
the act. The amendments allowed tribes to assume State Historic Preservation Office
duties and substitute their own procedures for the ACHP’s section 106 review. Tribal
Historic Preservation Offices work to protect cultural resources off reservation lands but
for the most part the NHPA is a procedural statute (Tsosie 1997:72). The passage of the
NHPA in 1966 did not directly contribute to the development of an Indigenous
archaeology, although its amendments 36 years later gave tribes a powerful tool to
protect resources on their own land through the establishment of Tribal Historic
Preservation Offices and a tribal voice in the Section 106 process.
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978
The American Indian Religious Freedom Act of 1978 (AIRFA) required federal
agencies to examine the areas where their policies and regulations affected the religious
freedom of American Indians (Watkins 2005:1900). With the passage of AIRFA,
consultation with affected tribes had to be considered when projects might impact sacred
sites. As Tsosie (1997:73) states, however, “the courts have been less charitable in
assessing impacts on Native American religious interests under AIRFA.” However, its
passage in the late 1970s suggests the emerging consideration for protection of cultural
heritage resources other than those traditionally defined by archeologists.
The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979
The Archaeological Resources Protection Act of 1979 (ARPA) was the first piece
of legislation that recognized the rights of American Indian groups to regulate the
excavation and removal of archaeological resources on Indian land. ARPA’s rules and
regulations “elevated the tribes’ political standing in the process of protecting cultural
resources by forcing archaeologists who wished to excavate, survey or conduct
archaeological research on tribal lands to establish direct line of communication with
affected tribes” (Watkins 2005:192).
The Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990
During the 1980s, continued lobbying efforts by American Indian groups and the
Society for American Archaeology for a national policy of repatriation led to the passage
of the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act of 1990 (NAGPRA). The
law provides a process for human remains, sacred items, objects of cultural patrimony,
and associated and unassociated funerary items to be returned to lineal descendants,
Native American tribes, Alaskan Natives, and Native Hawaiian groups. This legislation
mandated for the first time that archaeologists deal with Indians as equals, and a certain
degree of power “in defining how archaeological science now operates—leading to the
incorporation of Indigenous views and values into archaeological work” (ColwellChanthaphonh 2012:270-271). Nonetheless, even with the passage of NAGPRA, “Many
archaeologists still operate in a historical and political context in which Native peoples
are subordinated to dominant culture, with interruption of Indigenous land tenure,
suppression of Native languages, perception of native peoples as an inferior race, and the
socioeconomic marginalization of Indigenous communities” (Watkins and Ferguson
2005:1372). Furthermore, NAGPRA has not come without its own flaws and limitations.
One of these shortcomings is the struggle of American Indian groups to repatriate nearly
125,000 “culturally unidentifiable human remains” held by museums and federally
funded agencies throughout the U.S. However, NAGPRA has given tribes a powerful
tool to assert their sovereignty and the ability to manage cultural heritage resources in
accordance with their own belief-systems and worldviews. This has directly contributed
to the development of Indigenous archaeology.
In 2012, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Secretary Tom
Vilsack announced the release of a Report to the Secretary of Agriculture: USDA and
Forest Service Policy and Procedures Review – Indian Sacred Sites. The report calls for
the USDA and the U.S. Forest Service to work more closely with tribal governments in
the protection, respectful interpretation and appropriate access to Indian sacred sites.
Sacred sites are currently defined by Executive Order 13007 signed in 1996, which
focuses on specific sites and American Indian religious beliefs. The report recommends
that the department take a broader view by also considering cultural and landscape
perspectives in reference to the definition of sacred sites. The report recommends steps
the Forest Service should take to strengthen the partnerships between the agency, tribal
governments, and American Indian and Alaska Native communities to help preserve
America's rich native traditions. The steps are outlined below:
Confer with traditional practitioners and communities with knowledge and
interests in sacred sites and resource protection.
Update agency policy to ensure consultation on sacred sites is conducted pursuant
to existing law.
Develop a joint tribal-agency partnership guide.
Provide tribes consistent advance notice of nationwide consultation opportunities.
Use provisions of the agency's new planning rule to ensure protection of sacred
sites is considered in forest and grassland management.
Promote cooperative law enforcement agreements with tribal police and
conservation departments to enforce cultural laws such as the Native American
Graves Protection and Repatriation Act.
Although the report does not require or contain any legally mandated
enforcement/provisions the recommendations from over one hundred meetings between
USDA officials and tribal community members across the United States is an important
step regarding creating awareness amongst federal decision-makers who have the power
to assist and advocate for tribal sacred site interests. This type of knowledge exchange is
critical for the continued development of Indigenous archaeology in the U.S. because it
recommends USDA administration and overhead to be closely involved with American
Indian tribal administrations to hear how tribal communities continue to suffer as a result
of continued devastating and adverse effects to sacred sites.
More recently, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP 2014) has
adopted a plan to support the United Nations Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous
Peoples. The U.N. Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous People is a “comprehensive
statement about the rights of Indigenous peoples around the world. It emphasizes the
rights of Indigenous peoples to maintain and strengthen their own institutions, cultures
and traditions and to pursue their development in keeping with their own needs and
aspirations.” The plan has identified nine articles from the declaration that intersect with
the mission and work of the ACHP and with the Section 106 review process of the
National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) of 1966. Although the declaration does not
have the force of law its alignment with the various goals of the NHPA may force
archaeologists familiar with the NHPA and Section 106 regarding tribal consultation to
modify how they consult and collaborate using the goals of U.N. Declaration and the
NHPA as a collective tool.
Other factors contributing to the continued evolution of Indigenous archaeology
in the United States are sustained tribal assertion of sovereignty on tribal lands, American
Indian involvement in CRM projects and various Executive Laws including H.R. 13007
Sacred Sites and 13175 Coordination and Cooperation with Tribal Governments have
contributed to tribal assertions of power and authority over cultural heritage resources.
However, despite the diversity of contributing factors to the development Indigenous
archaeology in the U.S., it is clear descendent communities are becoming very much
involved in the interpretation of their own past.
Archaeological Collaborative Research with American Indian Communities
Recent research by various scholars (Atalay 2012; Bernardini 2005; ColwellChanthaphonh and Ferguson 2008; Dongoske et al. 2000; Ferguson and ColwellChanthaphonh 2006; Herr et al. 2011; Kerber 2006; Nicholas and Andrews 1997;
Nicholas et al. 2010; Silliman et al. 2008) has in fact looked to meaningfully integrate
and involve American Indian community members in all areas of research projects. This
is a significant step in reference to responsible and respectful research activities and a
change from past interactions between archaeologists and American Indian groups that
seemed to be fueled by required consultation through heritage resource law regulations
rather than truly voluntary collaborative projects. Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson
(2008:1) suggest that, “archaeologists have become more engaged in emerging forms of
collaboration, projects with descendent communities that radically challenge the
disciplines theoretical, methodological, and ethical foundations.” They further indicate
that recent projects—although unique, focusing along a “collaborative continuum,” all
move the discipline of archaeology toward a more, accurate, inclusive and ethically
sound practice (Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson 2008:1-2). The “collaborative
continuum” Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson (2008) expresses collaboration in
archaeological research as existing along a continuum of American Indian entities
archaeological field methods. One end of the continuum is labeled resistance. ColwellChanthaphonh and Ferguson (2008:13) indicate that a good example of this form of
resistance in collaborative or non-collaborative projects is the ongoing debate regarding
the disposition of the remains of “Kennewick Man” (Colwell-Chanthaphonh and
Ferguson 2008:13). Resistance between archaeologists and American Indian
communities marks distinctions between archaeological and traditional ways of knowing
and interpreting the past such that there is no discourse between these opposing
epistemologies (Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson 2008:13).
At the middle of the continuum lies participation, which characterizes much of the
archaeological research described below. Participation originates with independent
research interests and agendas between Native groups and archaeologists, yet involves
the limited incorporation of Native groups and traditional knowledge such that Native
stakeholders are given a voice in research products (Colwell-Chanthaphonh and Ferguson
2008). At the end of the continuum a “so-called” true collaboration, which involves an
integrative creation of research methodologies including data analysis and appropriate
archaeological techniques to be utilized during archaeological investigations (ColwellChanthaphonh and Ferguson 2008:13).
Martinez (2006) has attempted to draw from clinical psychology to form a better
collaborative methodology with American Indian entities. Arguing that “in order to build
a foundation for collaboration, group members must “set the tone” by examining their
preconceived notions of the other side” (Martinez 2006:488). Martinez suggests because
this type of social cognitive research has worked well in the context of environmental
conflict resolution between interactions with Native American, state and county entities it
seems obvious this approach would be useful for archaeological contexts as well.
Her research with the Wana Pa Koot Koot and Payos Kuus C’uukwe tribal
entities demonstrated that the tribes were both successful and unsuccessful in
accomplishing their goals. Setting the “tone” proved to be the best tool from social
psychology Martinez utilized during collaborative efforts. By having tribal and Federal
entities explain their purpose for attending meetings groups involved were able to
examine their preconceived notions of other folks in attendance, which made meetings
more productive and useful for participants. This is useful to the concept of Indigenous
archaeology because it forces all parties involved during the collaborative process to
deconstruct assumptions they have about one another and to start with the same
background knowledge to create a mutually agreed upon base to work from (Martinez
Atalay’s (2012) recent research in reference to Indigenous archaeology has
suggested that Community-Based Participatory Research (CBPR) strategies can be
usefully applied to form a more “community-based archaeology” that stresses
archaeological research with, by and for Indigenous and local communities. CBPR is
useful for Indigenous archaeology because it is reciprocal in nature and by working
together “the community and archaeologist can work together to pursue a research design
that benefits them both as equal partners” (Atalay 2012:5). Atalay’s comparative research
focusing on five case studies including four from the United States attempts to examine
various concepts: (1) what it means to be fully collaborative; (2) community participation
in research; (3) how to build community capacity; (4) how to achieve reciprocity in
beneficial outcomes; and (5) how to use multiple knowledge systems (Atalay 2012:24).
Atalay suggests CBPR research is a useful tool for collaborative archaeological
research projects between American Indian communities and non-American Indian
researchers because it moves the discussion of decolonizing archaeology forward (Atalay
2012:251). Atalay’s research is useful for the development of Indigenous archaeology in
the U.S. because, similar to Martinez (2006) it provides a context in which archaeologists
can decolonize their own research ideas and work collectively and rigorously with
descendant communities (Atalay 2012:253).
Works by scholars such as Smith and Wobst (2005), Hallowell and Nicholas
(2005), and Phillips and Allen (2010) examine case studies associated with the
difficulties and struggles of Indigenous peoples with the discipline of archaeology
worldwide in such areas as Canada, New Zealand, and Australia. These studies, which
parallel struggles of American Indian communities in the U.S., further recognize the
various challenges Indigenous peoples face today in reference to colonialism, creating
meaningful dialogue, and working with legal mandates and institutional policies.
This dissertation draws inspiration from these recent works that build and expand
upon collaborative models and explore the dynamics of such collaborations involving
descendent American Indian communities. Because, as Ferguson and Chanthaphonh
(2008:3) suggest “archaeology is inseparably entwined with the past policies and
programs of colonialism” embracing collaborative archaeology as a practice presents
unique and exciting opportunities for Indigenous communities to develop long-standing
research models within relationships of trust that will foster critical interpretations of the
past and present, and will look to decolonize archaeological theory while at the same time
promoting substantive research in a specific time and place.
Note: My Own Journey
For example, reflecting on my own educational journey and academic growth my
interests have grown into a passion for ethnography and working closely with living
descendants to better understand their interests and needs in reference to collaborative
projects. My early tutelage under the supervision of John Welch and Mark Altaha at the
White Mountain Apache Tribe Historic Preservation Office provided me with a greater
appreciation of archaeology. Being able to participate in stabilization workshops at
Kinishba and Grasshopper Pueblos gave me a sense of the romanticized notion of
Southwest archaeology, which drives many to the discipline, but at the same time I felt a
sense of duty that I was giving back by helping protect these ancient sites on my own
tribal lands. It was not until two seasons later that Welch gave me the task of
documenting; mapping and surface collecting a large Apache scout camp north of Fort
Apache. My work at the scout camp—which would later become the topic of my
Master’s thesis, greatly contributed to my interest in Apache archaeology. The title of my
Master’s thesis, “An Integrative Approach to Interpretations of an Historical-Period
Apache Scout Camp at Fort Apache, Arizona,” based on the investigation of historicalperiod Apache life-ways and social processes and how these processes can be highlighted
through the integration of oral testimony and archaeological research methods. Working
closely with tribal members during my M.A. research continued to expand my interest in
pluralistic research strategies and how the past can be better informed through integrative
A fire assignment to the southern holy mountain of my Western Apache people
also modified my research interests. Being certified as an archaeologist on wild land
forest fires in the U.S. Southwest I was assigned to work the Nuttall Wildland complex
on top of the Pinaleño Mountains near Safford, Arizona. I had a vague idea that the
mountain was important to the Western Apache people but after working the fire for
more than a couple weeks I became increasingly frustrated with communication efforts
on behalf of a few Type I initial response fire crews. An eventual back burn (firefighter
technique of intentional burning an area to cut off fuel source) over an area near the
summit of Mt. Graham Apache shrines and offerings had been left since time
immemorial made me realize such holy areas were critical to contemporary Apache
communities and needed some kind of protection. Due to my work on the fire and
through advocacy by Welch, Coronado National Forest hired me as an archaeologist.
However, due to the wild land fire experience my interests continued to evolve and I
began to move beyond traditional archaeological work into tribal relations and sacred site
During my American Indian Studies minor coursework and upon completion of
my Master’s I took various classes focusing on Federal Indian Law, issues of American
Indian sovereignty, self-determination, and decolonization. As a result of my minor
coursework I became very interested in multi-vocal and collaborative research. Moreover,
working as a SCEP (Student Career Experience Program) employee for the Forest
Service I developed an appreciation and recognized the need for mutually agreed upon
consultation and collaborative research models due to my involvement in contentious
issues involving American Indian sacred sites and repatriation often involving multiple
stakeholders and interest groups. I was intrigued by the Chiricahua Mountainscape and
the rich history of Apache associations embedded in the land base. However, much of the
Coronado National Forest in reference to archaeological site records was minimal.
Minimal in the sense that past site descriptions of “potential Apache sites” in the
Chiricahua mountain range were often labeled as possible, probable and /or “Apache?”
affiliations as Apache sites. Similar to my Masters research I thought it would be a very
good idea to conduct a collaborative study with all the Apache groups having Ancestral
ties to the Chiricahua Mountains. Initially, research questions were developed and
structured to provide better archaeological datasets and diagnostic checklists in reference
to historical period Apache material culture to better identify Apache signatures on the
ground surface. I had previously worked with Apache cultural experts involved in this
dissertation on various projects associated with the Coronado National Forest and thought
it would be a good idea to involve various Apache tribes in a dissertation project to better
understand past Apache occupations of the Chiricahua Mountains.
I think a combination of my identity, life experience, education, job experience,
and associations have worked together collectively through time to channel my research
interests beyond the material record of archaeology and modified my dissertation
direction. My interest and focus shifted from not only identifying past Apache
occupations on the landscape, but how the past is tied to the present and can we, as
archaeologists address those wants, needs, interests, and concerns of American Indian
people we collaborate with.
I have summarized my own intellectual genealogy to demonstrate the various
factors that led me to my overall career goal of assisting tribal entities by integrating their
voices at all stages of research projects and to continue deconstruction of academic
models based on empirical evidence and westernized science. At many times these
various factors including experiences, advisors and education crosscut, and have worked
collectively contributing to my interest in Indigenous archaeology.
American Indian Scholars
In many cases those scholars of Indigenous archaeology in the U.S. initially
became interested in the concept of American Indians and archaeology as a result of their
American Indian identity. Expanding on this recognition, Lippert (2005:63) suggests,
“many Native people who work in archaeology today do so out of necessity” indicating
they do so because of their tribal identity and obligation to their tribal communities.
Moreover, Lippert (2006:97) suggests that in working within archaeology she draws upon
her own heritage as a guide to ethical behavior and as a source of courage. As component
of Indigenous archaeology, NAGPRA has contributed to its development by enhancing
tribal participation in determining their own past in reference to certain kinds of objects
and ancestral human remains held by federal agencies and institutions. In a recent survey
inquiring why certain tribal members became involved with NAGPRA and repatriation
work Colwell-Chanthaphonh (2012:280) suggests some became involved due to their
American Indian identity and obligation to lay their ancestors to rest.
Of course, over time, in other cases these interests in archaeology may have been
strengthened through education, training, experience, and relationships but many
American Indian archeologists have done so as a result of their own identification as
American Indians. Lippert suggests that she felt like she had a responsibility—as a person
of American Indian descent to make each point of view clear to the other group in
referring to American Indians and archaeologists. In the same vein as Lippert, my
experiences and cultural identity as an Apache tribal member made me feel like I have a
responsibility to protect and preserve Apache identity and culture defined by past and
present intricate relationships to the landscape. My own journey is still developing, but it
was necessary to discuss my experiences to delineate my view of archaeology and what I
think is needed by archaeologists working with American Indian communities for future
protection, benefits and collaborative work. The next section discusses the data collection
methods that were utilized for this dissertation research. The discussion of My Own
Journey as a prelude to the methods chapter underscores why I chose to use some of the
methods and modification of such methods such as “least impact” strategies and using the
White Mountain Apache Tribe Cultural Resource Best Management Practices Welch et
al. 2004) for project direction due to my respect and responsibility to follow Apache
cultural tenets.
To investigate the late 1800s Apache occupation of the Chiricahua Mountains in
Southeastern Arizona I utilized various data collection methods. I used ethnohistorical
documentation including ethnographies, military records, as well as more recent works
by Sweeney (1991, 1992, 1998, 2010), and Coronado National Forest site files as a
foundation to better understand Apache site location and placement on the land base.
Collaboration with Apache descendant communities was utilized to emphasize specific
Apache views of the Chiricahua Mountain land base as well as to highlight particular
phenomena important to contemporary Apache people. Archaeological pedestrian and
metal detector survey was used to locate possible material traces of Apache landscape
Archival and Ethnographical and Research
Published accounts of Apache history and culture are ample, but mostly have
been written from non-Apache perspectives. Moreover, the general public perception of
historical-period Apache groups often originates from the popular media, which
sensationalizes and romanticizes Apache groups as bloodthirsty warriors and raiders of
the Southwest U.S. However, ethnographies by such scholars as Goodwin (1939,1942)
and Opler (1965, 1969, 1983a) provide unique insights into Apache culture that may have
been lost if not for their work during the early and mid-1900s.
Much of the historical-period information on Apache life-ways comes from the
very people who were enlisted to subdue and pacify Apache groups. Therefore, military
accounts and records, as well more recent works by historians of Apache culture
(Sweeney 1991, 1992, 1998, 2010; Thrapp 1967), were utilized to better understand
Apache occupations of the Chiricahua Mountains. Archival research primarily focused on
an examination of military documents and correspondence of soldiers stationed at or near
Camp Rucker and other army outposts in southern Arizona, such as Fort Bowie and Fort
Grant, which were heavily occupied during the so-called “Apache Wars.” Military
documents located within the Arizona Historical Society, on file at Coronado National
Forest, Fort Bowie National Historic Park, and on microfilm at the University of Arizona
library and Special Collections were examined to determine Apache occupations of the
research areas and Apache-military interactions. The great majority of the documents
associated with historical-period Apache occupations of the Chiricahua Mountains were
already on file at Coronado National Forest originating from the National Archives and
Records Administration (NARA) including the majority of Camp Rucker and Fort Bowie
documents. The University of Arizona Library has a substantial collection of microfilm
holdings for military records—the full set of post returns, or regimental returns, and a
partial set of Office of the Adjutant General correspondence, plus Indian agency and
District of Arizona and New Mexico records and correspondence. The archival research
was primarily used in conjunction with Coronado National Forest archaeological site data
to visit and identify areas in the Chiricahua Mountains that may be conducive to Apache
occupations potentially identified through material remains.
Pedestrian Survey
During the pedestrian survey component of this dissertation the Cultural Heritage
Resource Best Management Practices for the White Mountain Apache Tribe (Welch et al.
2004) were utilized as guidelines because of the significance of the Chiricahua Mountain
range to Apache communities. The Guidelines describe specific actions that should be
taken into account when conducting fieldwork that has the potential to adversely affect
cultural heritage resources. A very useful definition of cultural heritage resources (CHRs)
and guidelines associated with preservation and protection are outlined and adapted from
Welch et al. 2004.
Cultural Heritage Resources
To Apache people Cultural Heritage Resources (CHRs) “include all places,
objects, and intangibles having significance in the culture or history of the Apache on and
off traditional homelands. CHRs include everything linked to or produced by our
ancestors: all history, culture, customs, traditions, ceremonies, beliefs, stories, songs,
language, arts, crafts, artifacts, sacred objects, funerary objects, and archaeological and
human remains” (Welch et al. 2004:1). Apache communities also recognize the
inextricable link between CHRs produced by ancestors and “every plant, animal, mineral,
spring, stream, artifact, structure, fossil, landform, cave, and viewscape therein. They are
where and how our spirits dwell and become renewed: our sacred places and holy
mountains, whether located on or off the Reservation” (Welch et al. 2004:1).
Moreover, “Apache customs and traditions recognize and sustain stewardship
responsibilities, mandating Apache duties to protect and nurture what has been inherited
from Apache ancestors Welch et al. 2004:2). To do this it is necessary to leave the land
and its resources in an improved condition for future generations” (Welch et al. 2004:2).
Because the preservation of traditional Apache homeland (Chiricahua Mountains),
culture, language, cultural expert knowledge, are of the utmost importance for the future
of Apache communities resource policies developed from tribally-derived knowledge
systems need to be more than guidelines but mandated policy.
Apache cultural and operational principles guiding resource management are
outlined below (after Welch 2004:3). Although the original guidelines include other
principles associated with benefits to Apache people on tribal lands (tourism and
employment) my dissertation research focuses on those principles that can be reflected
upon and utilized by non-Apache and Apache researchers conducting projects within the
Chiricahua Mountain land base:
Respect animals, plants and minerals as parts of a seamless whole;
Maintain balance between resource use and resource enhancement;
Protect sacred sites and places of traditional cultural importance, as well as
archaeological and historical artifacts and structures;
Manage CHRs to blend into and harmonize with surrounding ecosystems;
Employ non-invasive and least impact treatments and methods;
Recognize that most CHRs are embedded in landscapes; Project-related
changes to plant communities, soil systems, or ecosystem functions may
bring adverse effects to CHRs;
Assure that the WMAT and Apache people receive all or most of any
benefits from resource uses and activities;
Acknowledge that suffering may visit those who fail to respect graves,
objects, or other sites associated with Apache or non-Apache ancestors.
Although there is no overarching consensus among the various Apache groups
and individuals concerning CHR management practices and cultural tenets the
aforementioned principles demonstrate the uniquely significant association Apache
groups have to the past and present. The best management practices are necessary for any
researcher performing ground-disturbing or land-altering activities within areas of
ancestral importance to Apache people. As I have discussed in Chapter 5 of this
dissertation, these tenets are also fundamental to the formation of better research
strategies and as vehicles for “critical reflection” by archaeologists
Various areas within the Chiricahua Mountains were surveyed or re-visited to
determine a possible Apache occupation. Canyon bottomland and high altitude areas
were visited in the Rucker, Jack Wood, Fort Bowie, Rock Creek, Granary Cave, and
Horseshoe-Pothole Canyon portions of the mountain range. Survey was also dictated by
reported probable Apache sites in the areas and a Coronado National Forest site file
review. Most sites on file at Coronado National Forest were minimally recorded and
required additional visitation documentation and survey of surrounding areas. During
visitation some areas/sites were metal detected to locate any metal material items that
may have been diagnostic of Apache sites and Apache occupation of the areas. Pedestrian
survey and known site re-visitation with Apache collaborators was primarily conducted
in the Rucker and Jack Wood Canyon areas due to these area being topographically more
accessible to collaborators. The area surveyed in the Chiricahua Mountains consisted of
approximately 500-700 acres. Due to extreme ruggedness, isolation, and accessibility
issues to certain areas by Apache representatives most sites that were visited with Apache
tribal members were in areas where they could get to without much difficulty. I focused
on specific areas with a high probability of Apache occupation, those with archival and
oral evidence of Apache presence, and previously recorded Apache sites. The pedestrian
survey was conducted in 5-10 meter intervals stopping and recording features and
artifacts when they were encountered. Most of the larger scale pedestrian survey was
conducted during para-archaeology re-certification training offered annually or biannually by the Coronado National Forest Heritage Program. The bulk of the participants
were Coronado National Forest employees from various districts of the Coronado
National Forest. However, invited tribal cultural experts participated as well. Maps of the
survey area and site locations have been left out of this dissertation to protect exact site
locations as well as to preserve the delicate nature of the materials remains of potential
Apache sites and to avoid unnecessary site damage from looting and metal detector
hobbyists. But they are on file at the Coronado National Forest.
Metal Detector Survey
As a complement to the pedestrian survey a metal detector survey was conducted
within the project area. Archaeologists utilizing metal detector surveys at military sites
have met with great success (e.g., Adams 2000a, 2000b, 2001; Laumbach et al. 2001;
Ludwig and Stute 1993; Scott et al. 1989). Southwestern archaeologists have, to some
extent, ignored this useful tool, but at the start of the twenty-first century the profession
started to take a serious look at the practicality of metal detector survey (Adams
2000a:28). The metal detection component of the dissertation research was primarily
limited to detecting previously known probable Apache sites and newly located areas of
Apache occupation during the pedestrian survey phase of the project. Larger portions
within the Rucker Canyon area were metal detected yielding minimal material signatures
of Apache occupation due to intense late 1800s occupation of the Rucker area by the U.S.
military and later occupations by settlers and ranchers. The metal detector survey was
utilized to detect the presence of other signature or diagnostic Apache artifacts, such as
metal tinklers/jingles, metal arrowheads, and modified bullet shell casings and metal
cans. Adams (2001:110) has suggested that the metal detector is one of the most
important tools used today in discovering and defining Apache sites, especially at
shallow depths. Use of metal detectors also minimizes disturbance of the land, including
the potential for disturbing other sub-surface archaeological remains. Moreover, because
the project employs a “Least Impact” research strategy, the use of a metal detector will
lessen the usual site damage in terms of excavation and other forms of destructive data
collection methods. Some sites exhibited very high potential for Apache occupation,
including a possible Apache scout camp associated with Camp Rucker and an 1869 battle
site known as the “Battle of Cochise Pass.” These larger areas were one hundred percent
metal detected at intervals from ranging from 3 to 5 meters. The artifacts were
documented and photographed “in-place” and then reburied following the “least impact
strategy” of this dissertation research.
The significant and considerable relationship of the Chiricahua Mountains to
multiple Apache groups made it necessary to involve these tribal entities in the
interpretation of their former homeland for this dissertation. In-field interviews and site
visits were conducted by the researcher and whenever possible inter-Apache in-field
collaboration occurred when it was feasible for representatives of each affiliated group to
visit the research areas collectively. Visits to Mescalero were made and interviews were
conducted at collaborator residencies and tribal cultural heritage departments. All Apache
tribes involved in the project submitted letters of support and authorization for the
dissertation research project. Each tribe’s Heritage Program Manager acted as the main
point of contact with the tribes. Tribal cultural experts were referred to the researcher as
cultural experts possessing extensive knowledge of historical-period Apache life-ways
and history by each tribe’s respective heritage preservation programs. Some Apache
representatives involved in the research were direct descendants of prominent historicalperiod leaders and warriors such as Cochise, Naiche, and Kanseah (Sweeney 1991, 2012;
Thrapp 1967), who were known to have intensely occupied the Chiricahua Mountain
range and much of southeastern Arizona during the late 1800s.
On-site interviews were typically conducted with a brief site description,
including initial site interpretation, and when the site was located and recorded by the
researcher and/or Coronado Heritage Program staff. Tribal representatives then walked
the area with heritage personnel and interpretations or comments were chronicled during
the site visits. Bringing Apache representatives out to the field proved to be an important
component to the oral collaboration component of the project. As Basso (1996)
demonstrated in his place names studies with Apache feelings and experiences, stories
come alive during these times due to the powerful associations have to the natural
environment and topography.
Of course, the archaeological remains of the site remain an important part of
Apache history but do not tell the whole story of the Apache past and experiences. More
formal interviews included either roundtable discussions as a group or individual
interviews at residencies, tribal historic preservation offices, the Coronado National
Forest Supervisor’s Office, and the Rucker Administrative site began with an explanation
by the researcher describing the purpose of the dissertation research and the importance
and necessity of Apache involvement in the multivocal project. An interview form
approved by the University of Arizona Human Subjects Protection Program was utilized
as a catalyst for question sessions focusing on Apache history and culture within the
Chiricahua Mountain range and U.S. Southwest in general.
However, the facilitating nature of the interview questionnaire in general often
gave way to more informal discussion and listening sessions, which proved to be more
valuable to Apache collaborators. Similar, to Kovach’s (2009:123) statement that “highly
structured interviews are not congruent with accessing knowledges that imbue both the
fluidity and regulation of the storyteller’s role within oral tradition, or that respond to the
relational nature of Indigenous research,” I had similar research experiences with my
inter-tribal collaborative dissertation project. Having expectations in reference to
structured responses to research questions makes it difficult to comprehend that which is
necessary and beneficial for contemporary Apache communities.
Throughout the entirety of the dissertation research various logistical constraints
made the collaborative component challenging at various times. These struggles (as I
will later discuss) demonstrate the extreme difficulty of in-field collaborations involving
ancestral communities. Due to these logistical restraints the bulk of the dissertation
collaboration involved working with the Mescalero and White Mountain Apache Tribes.
Site Records and Site Data
I used Coronado National Forest site record forms to document each new site that
was located. I wrote a narrative description discussing site context, environment,
vegetation, settings, artifacts and features, and recommendations for site preservation if
needed. I also made recommendations regarding National Register of Historic Places
(NRHP) eligibility in reference to terms of criteria listed in 36 CFR 60.4. The site
records are on file at the Coronado National Forest Supervisors Office. Due to the
sensitive nature, minimal and fragile archaeological record of Apache material remains
positively identified as “Apache” within the Chiricahua Mounatin range and in respect of
Apache wishes, much of the locational data in reference to exact site locations and GPS
coordinates is withheld from this dissertation. General site descriptions and basic
topographical maps of the Chiricahua Mountain research area are provided.
In this chapter I discuss the site types and diagnostic materials used to suggest an
Apache landscape presence are discussed. I also describe the areas visited during the
pedestrian survey component of the dissertation as well as probable Apache sites located
during the survey. I chose to combine the Apache site types, descriptions, and discussions
collectively in this chapter as part of a commitment to organize data, theory and
collaborative interpretations together. I think discussing the material site data with nonApache and Apache interpretations of the Chiricahua Mountain area constitutes a better
overall picture because a multivocal interpretation will allow various perspectives
concerning the Apache past to be analyzed collectively and provide explanations of
Apache history and culture from multiple tribal and non-tribal perspectives.
Initially, my research questions focused on the material aspects of the Apache
past and what could be added to the current state of “Apache archaeology” to better
recognize Apache landscape occupations in the U.S. Southwest. However, although site
visitations with Apache collaborators did highlight certain aspects of Apache material
culture in reference to such material traces as red pictograph paint and or metal items the
direction of my research shifted focusing on continued Apache social ties to the land base
and the collaborative process itself in reference to truly benefiting American Indian
communities. Therefore, here, I think it is necessary to list my initial research questions
before site descriptions and discussion occurs:
(1) How can we integrate oral Apache testimony with archaeological methods to
better understand Apache social processes and connections to the Chiricahua
Land base?
(2) Can a better material Apache trait list be developed as a result of such
collaborations to better recognize Apache archaeology on the landscape?
These two questions initially guided the field component of this dissertation
research. They are important because field visitations and viewing certain areas on the
ground having minimum material Apache traces not only illuminates the physical and
material connections to the Chiricahua land base but other connections brought to life
through experiences, stories, songs, and ceremonies that contribute to better
contemporary management practices and present day Apache community concerns and
social problems.
Apache Site Types
Various site types have been suggested by archaeologists in reference to
historical-period Apache occupation throughout the U.S. Southwest (Adams, White and
Johnson 1998; Adams 2000a, 2000b, 2001; Ferg 1987; Gifford 1980; Goodwin 1942;
Gregory 1981; Gunnerson 1979; Sechrist 2008; Seymour 2004, 2013; Welch and
Bostwick 1998) These site types include wickiup or gowah remains; walled-in caves and
rock shelters used for caches and burials; large rock, earth, and wood ovens that were
used for baking succulents (primarily agave); dry-stacked cobbles cairns used as
windbreaks; hunting blinds; burials; and battle sites.
Recently Welch, Herr and Laluk’s (2013) upcoming chapter concerning Apache
archaeology in the Oxford Handbook of the Archaeology of the Southwest have suggested
eight different Apache site types, building off Graves’ (1982) research which focused on
the assessment of land use patterns and aspects of Apache history and ecology. These
include (1) farming areas, (2) camp sites, (3) promontory sites, (4) agave roasting pits, (5)
rockshelters, (6) rock art sites (distinguished by Gilpin and Phillips 1998:Table 3.2b), (7)
structures built on pre-contact sites (e.g., Asch 1960), and (8) caches and graves (which
can only be differentiated when excavated, and are usually left undisturbed after
recording). Sacred or Holy sites are not discussed out of respect for Apache concerns but
are not limited to tangible or intangible remains including the above mentioned identified
site types. Moreover, past places and their associated place-names or “toponyms” are also
an integral part of the Apache past and identity. Place name projects amongst various
Western Apache groups as well as the Chiricahua and Mescalero groups have been and
continue to be conducted throughout ancestral Apache territories (Basehart 1959;
Goodwin 1942; Pilsk and Cassa 2005; Welch 2000)
These site types and materials resulting from various practices are not exhaustive
or exclusive tributes of historical-period Apache material culture, but are among the most
diagnostic that archaeologists have to work with. As Sechrist (2008:3) suggests “given
Apache prevalence in southeastern Arizona in the late historic period, these materials if
dating to ca. 1700 or later, very likely represent Apache occupations.” However, despite
having a so-called “diagnostic” trait list of Apache material signatures, identifying
Apache presence continues to challenge archaeologists. As Sechrist (2008:16) states,
“while Apache material culture could be technically sophisticated, compositionally
complex, and stylistically distinct, it was largely composed of organic materials like hide,
bone wood and fiber” (Basehart 1973; Bourke 1892; Buskirk 1986; Ferg 1987; Goodwin
n.d.a., 1942; Opler 1983a). Moreover, as Welch (1997) has added, another challenge to
this archaeological invisibility of Apache sites is finding and interpreting material
remains created by mobile groups marginal to the cultural regions they occupied, who
employed organic shelter and materials, and reused material items obtained from other
cultural sites as well. However, as Welch, Herr and Laluk (2013) suggest “the most
fundamental advantage (in Apache archaeology) is that the subjects of Apache
archaeology are the histories, societies and ecologies of a single Ndee nation, a people
united by a common descent and language.” Because of this, Ndee beliefs systems,
values, and overall sense of well-being in reference to their association to the land base
have been retained and asserted—and continue underpin Apache life ways and
Material Means of Recognizing Post-1850 Apache Sites
Presence of Material of European Origin
Perhaps the most important tool in the recognition of post 1850 Apache sites is
the presence of artifacts of European origin—especially distinctive metal and glass and
glass items including metal projectile points, tinklers/jingles, tweezers made from
cartridge casings (Figure 6.1), brass bracelets, metal strainers for corn beer
(tulapai/tiswin), wire bread grills, flaked glass (bottles and insulators) for projectile
points (Bourke 1891:18; Comanche, personal communication 2008), and cutting tools
and more general items such as glass beads and metal knives. However, metal, glass, and
varieties of pottery were always extremely rare outside Euroamerican settlements until
the mid- to late 1800s (Baugh and Sechrist 2001:51).
Figure 6.1. Example of .45-70 caliber cartridge casing modified into tweezers. Site
FOBO 8311, Accession number 405. Photograph on file, Fort Bowie.
Rock Rings, Cache Areas and Other Features
Various types of features are indicative of Apache landscape presence including
wickiup rings, windbreaks, breastworks, ramadas, and walled-in “cache” areas. Adams,
White and Johnson (1998:97) suggest breastworks associated with the Mescalero Apache
served as lookouts and defensive positions during raiding and warfare between Apache
bands and the U.S. Army in the latter part of the nineteenth century. Ludwig and Stute
(1993) describe approximately twenty Apache breastworks used by Apaches during the
Battle of K-H Butte on the northwest flank of the Pinaleño mountain range (Ludwig and
Stute 1993). Within the Chiricahua Mountain area breastworks have been noted at the
Battle of Apache Pass area near Fort Bowie (Sweeney 1998).
Another type of feature suggested as diagnostic of Apache occupation are walled
up “cave cache” sites. Early ethnographic reports and more recent research (Barnes and
Lockwood 1982:112-116; Buskirk 1986:74; Gifford 1940:99-100; Goodwin 2004:209210; Opler 1965:371) suggest these features were used for long-term storage of supplies
and food as well as possibly areas to inter the deceased. Sechrist suggests (2008:164) a
walled-up shelter encountered in the Granary Cave area of Chiricahua Mountains was
used as a storage chamber. These Apache site types are extremely rare in the
archaeological record. Over time they are subject to deterioration from exposure to the
natural elements as well as pillaging by Euroamerican military personnel, settlers, and
Aside from large above-ground roasting pits, wickiup (gowah) rings are perhaps
the most common identifiable Apache-related feature on the landscape (Donaldson and
Welch 1991; Goodwin 1942; Gregory 1981; Seymour 2009b). These full or partial rock
rings were made to support erect posts and to assist in holding down the overlying
canopy of either brush, hide, or canvas. These are a common diagnostic feature of
Apache archaeology, but difficult to identify on surface contexts due to the lack of other
associated diagnostic material items/features.
Stone-lined storage cysts have been suggested as diagnostic feature of Apache
sites. However, these features have also been designated as burials, hunting blinds, and/or
windbreaks. Features of this type have been recorded throughout the Southwest U.S.
Haecker (2002:31) notes that a “stone-lined cyst is typical of Apache encampments” and
in his discussions with Chris Adams of the Gila National Forest, Adams has indicated
that similar cysts have been found on Mescalero Apache encampments in the Guadalupe
Mountains of southeastern New Mexico (Haecker 2002:31).
Due to extensive mobile lifeways of historical-period Apache groups “identifying
Apache pottery has not been without its difficulties” (Ferg 2004:2). In reference to
Western Apache pottery Ferg notes, “Archaeological examples of Western Apache
pottery are now well documented, although poorly dated, if at all” (Doyel 1978; Ferg
1992a, 1995a, 1995b, 2003a; Ferg and Tessman 1997; Gifford 1980; Huckell 1978;
Whittlesey and Benaron 1997).
Until recently there have been only brief mentions of pottery making among the
Chiricahua and Mescalero, and this is largely limited to ethnographic work completed by
Morris Opler (Ferg 2004:1). However, Ferg’s (2004) study discusses various ceramic
assemblages and whole vessels recovered from different contexts in southeastern Arizona
and eastern New Mexico, and provides comparable data for purported Western Apache
sites containing ceramics. Ferg suggests (2004) Apache ceramics are very rare in the
archaeological record. The majority are thin-walled, have uneven or dimpled surfaces as
a result of fingertip impressions, and some exhibit wiping marks or fine striations from
the final surface smoothing process (Figures 6.2 and 6.3).
Figure 6.2. ASM Collection. Apache ceramics exhibiting thin-walls, wipe marks and
striations. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest
Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Figure 6.3. ASM Collection. Apache ceramics showing “fillet rim,” fingernail
indentations and thin-walls. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado
National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson.
Alan Ferg of the Arizona State Museum (personal communication, 2014) has
suggested that the difficulties of identifying historical-period Apache ceramics might be
due to the possibility that there was a shift in the historical-period from making ceramic
vessels to baskets for domestic and other uses. Apache women may have concentrated on
basketry and may have only minimal opportunity to fabricate ceramic vessels due to the
highly mobile lifestyle. Because, as Ferg suggests (2014, personal communication),
“some of the things that Pueblos use pottery for, Apaches use baskets: water canteens,
food serving, food storage, caching things. And Apaches were using basketry forms that
Pueblo folks used only sparingly, or didn't have at all: burden baskets, seed beaters, saltdrying plaques, agave-drying trays.”
In reference to the level of variation in Apache plain ware, Ferg (personal
communication, 2014) also suggests, “Why would any of the Apache plain ware vessel
styles and shapes be consistent?” As Ferg (2004:17) notes in reference to Chiricahua
ceramics, "jar shapes are extremely variable, as one might expect in a sample of jars
derived from a small group of potters, spread over a large area, who may not have made
very many pots at any one time" (Figure 6.4). Therefore, variation within Apache
ceramics should not be a surprise—as Ferg (personal communication, 2014) suggests,
“It’s still a trick.”
Figure 6.4. ASM Collection 74-60-1. Apache plain ware ceramic vessel. Found in
Granary Cave area in the Chiricahua Mountains. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk.
On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson.
Only a few “possible” Apache plain ware ceramic sherds were located during the
course of this dissertation fieldwork. The ceramics came from the west-central portion of
the Chiricahua Mountains. Do to the highly variable nature of known Apache ceramic
assemblages, and the high number of ceramic plain ware typologies and styles through
time, outright identification of plain ware ceramic sherds found on surface and subsurface
contexts of possible Apache sites continues to challenge scholars of Apache archaeology,
as Ferg (personal communication, 2014) noted.
Agave Roasting Pits
It is well known that historically Apache groups throughout the southwestern
United States harvested and “pit-roasted” agave/mescal as a major source of subsistence
(Buskirk 1986; Castetter 1935; Castetter and Opler 1936; Curtis 1907; Gallagher 1977;
Goodwin 1942; Reagan 1930). Buskirk suggests that the most important wild food plant
was mescal (agave) and that the Chiricahua were said to have lived on nothing else for
long periods (Buskirk 1986:169). Furthermore, Ferg (2003:4) wrote, “the harvesting and
pit roasting of mescal has always been an integral part of Western Apache culture, and of
the Chiricahua and Mescalero.” Agave roasting pit construction consisted of clearing a
hole from three to twelve feet in diameter and from two to four feet in depth. Wood was
then placed within the hole in a crisscross pattern. Over the wood was placed a layer of
round stones, preferably vesicular lava, because it was thought to retain heat (Buskirk
The physical remains of such features are present throughout the modern-day
Chiricahua Mountain landscape. The above-ground mounds of fire-cracked rock and
discolored earth with occasional central depressions are distinct from the non-mounded
versions of earlier prehistoric occupations (Gregory 1981). Seymour (1992) suggests that
the roasting pit is perhaps the most visible and most common Apache feature represented
on the physical landscape. Herr and her colleagues (2011:13) have also suggested that
large mounds of fire-cracked rock are the most visible surface evidence of pre-reservation
Apache presence.
Various roasting pit sites were visited with Apache collaborators as a component
of this dissertation research (Figure 6.5). Initially, this research considered more intense
archaeological investigation of roasting pit areas. However, various factors including the
guiding Apache tenet of a “Least Impact” research strategy did not agree with disturbing
the landscape and integrity of the roasting pit areas. Perhaps future roasting pit research
will be more conducive to archaeological tenets of intrusive data collection methods
within the Chiricahua Mountain area, but this is beyond the scope of this dissertation
Figure 6.5. Apache cultural experts visit to roasting pit site on private land within
the Chiricahua Mountains in 2010. Photograph on file, Coronado National Forest
Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Horse Bone and Horse Pictographs
Historical-period accounts (Bourke 1886; Clark 2001; Naylor and Polzer 1986;
Worcester 1941, 1944, 1945) suggest the economic importance of the horse to Apache
people in reference to a source of food, hides, and transportation. This importance is
manifested through material remains including burned and butchered horse bone and
pictograph rock art elements depicting images of horses. Schaafsma indicates (1980:335)
that “as one might predict, horse and riders are frequently represented in Apache rock
Burned and/or butchered horse bones have been reported at least six sites in the
Chiricahua Mountains (AR03-05-01-272, AR03-05-01-273 [Figure 6.6], AR03-05-01-274,
AR03-05-01-508, AR03-05-01-509 and Red Rock Canyon [AR03-05-01-488]).
Figure 6.6. Burned horse bones. From left: Upper molar, lower molar, distal end (1st
phalanx), proximal end, metapodial – 2 fragments, rib (medial half). On file,
Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson.
Equally rare to sites containing burned horse bone within the Chiricahua
Mountains are horse pictograph elements (Figures 6.7, 6.8, 6.9). In his 1988 rock art
study of rock art sites on the Coronado National Forest, Burton suggests only two figures
as possibly horses. However, Burton’s study, conducted in the 1980s, only included
known rock art sites of the time. Sechrist (2008) recorded two sites near the eastern end
of the Chiricahua Mountains containing horse illustrations (Figure 6.7). One is a faint
representation of a horse in reddish-yellow paint. The other is similar, but brighter in red
pigment, (Figure 6.8) which may be the result of varying pigment types or increased
exposure to natural elements over time. Another horse pictograph has been located in the
Cave Creek area of the Chiricahua Mountains (Figure 6.9). The figure is composed of
black charcoal-based pigment and appears to have a human figure behind it. The figure
was initially interpreted a horse-and-ride image, a common Apache motif, but according
to (Burton 1988:262) “were not observed on the forest” during his 1988 rock art
inventory. However, during a site visit nearly 12 years ago, James Natchez from
Mescalero and a descendent of Cochise and Naiche suggested that the pictograph
appeared to be a figure with raised arms standing beside the horse rather than riding it
(William Gillespie, personal communication 2014).
In reference to Apache paint preferences in southeast Arizona including the
Chiricahua Mountain range Burton (1988:262) suggests that white paint appears to be
most commonly used in Apache sites, but “characteristic multiple paint colors were
present, including black, buff, red, orange, and blue pigments” were present at possible
Apache rock art sites he recorded during his study. However, more than 26 years later,
Gillespie (2013, personal communication) noted that both black and red pigments seem
to be common to pictographs possibly associated with the Apache. This may be a direct
result of Burton’s pre-NAGPRA 1992 NHPA amendments research and mandated
consultation efforts to involve direct and lineal descendants American Indian descendants
Figure 6.7. Horse pictograph (AR03-05-01-273) in reddish/yellow pigment from
Granary Cave area. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson.
Figure 6.8. Horse pictograph in red pigment from Sulphur Canyon site AR03-05-01508. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson.
Figure 6.9. Apache horse pictograph in black pigment (AR03-05-01-284). Cave
Creek area. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson.
in archaeological research projects on Federal lands, especially in reference to red paint,
which is discussed further in the next section of this dissertation.
Other Possible Apache Rock Art
Very little research or published data exist in reference to Apache rock art in the
Southwest U.S. According to Shaafsma (1980:333) even though Apaches occupied the
Arizona and New Mexico areas for more than three centuries a small number of Apache
rock art sites have been recorded from the Mescalero, Chiricahua, and San Carlos areas.
Aside from the limited number of Apache rock art sites in the Southwest U.S.,
Shaafsma’s (1980:335) research also indicates that the recorded possible Apache
elements are a “rather miscellaneous collection of rock paintings and petroglyphs,
obviously relatively recent in origin, but often so limited or undiagnostic in content and
style…that one cannot always be certain who made them.”
Various elements have been suggested as representing Apache rock art. These
include horses and riders, decorative shields, bison, miscellaneous small, unidentifiable
animals, snakes of different kinds (some of which are based on mythological and not
naturalistic interpretations), lizards, masks, and hourglass designs (Schaafsma 1980:335).
According to Schaffsma (1992:80) “Apache rock art presents a widely diversified body
of imagery that includes representational elements as well as a strong abstract complex”
in which “ceremonial figures and horses are prominent in the figurative art, with
considerable stylistic variation” (1992:80). In reference to southeast Arizona, more
generally the Chiricahua, Dragoon and Peloncillo Mountain ranges, William Gillespie
suggests common Apache elements/images include “large birds—especially with rake
wings, horses—with or without riders, other animals, supposed gaan headgear, mountain
lions, outline crosses, hourglasses or butterfly, stars and miscellaneous geometrics”
(Gillespie, personal communication 2014). Schaffsma (1980:335) suggests that hourglass
rock art elements found at possible Apache site locations “could be the Apache
counterpart for Child-of-the Water” and hourglass bodies are typical of Apache
Jeff Burton’s (1988) compilation Prehistoric Rock Art of the Southeast Arizona
Uplands: A Formal Record of 53 Rock Art Sites on the Coronado National Forest
discusses various rock art sites recorded through a study by Trans-Sierran Archaeological
Research on lands managed by the Coronado National Forest. The styles reported by
Burton include: Chihuahuan Polychrome Abstract, Hohokam/Gila Petroglyph, Mogollon
Red, Jornada, Papago, Apache and, as-yet undefined styles of Western Archaic Tradition.
According to Burton (1988:v) “most of the styles that could be defined at the sites
generally fall within geographic ranges that correlate with other cultural signifiers. For
example, Mogollon Red and Chihuahuan Polycrome Abstract predominate in the eastern
part of the Forest, Hohokam and Desert Archaic in the western part, and Apache occurs
throughout the area.”
In reference, to Apache petroglyphs located on lands managed the Coronado
National Forest, according to Coronado National Forest Archaeologist William Gillespie
(2012 personal communication) there are no known petroglyph rock art sites that can be
attributed to the Apache in the Chiricahua Mountain research areas. Even father north at
the end of the nineteenth century early archaeologist Jesse Walter Fewkes (1896:277)
suggested that “petrographs that are pecked or incised were associated with the cliff-
dweller’s while those made by Apache were painted.” Schaafsma suggests (1980:335)
that knowledge of Apache petroglyphs in her study was limited to southern New Mexico
and adjacent parts of Texas. Personally, throughout the various projects I have been
involved with the White Mountain Apache Tribe and my own dissertation research the
only petroglyph sites I have come across that were undoubtedly Apache are more recent,
dating from reservation confinement times and U.S. policy of the “tag system” to keep
track of Apache populations and changing demographics as well as for the rationing
systems. Moreover, because many of the military personal and government officials
could not properly speak or pronounce Apache names implementing the simple
alphabetical and numerical tag system—A-1, for Chief Alchesay, former chief of White
Mountain Apache Tribe and enlisted U.S. Army scout made it easier for the military and
government personnel to refer to Apache individuals. These band numbers and
sometimes-associated dates have been observed scratched into large volcanic basalt
boulders along the cliffs of the White River. Also, various gaan representations have
been reported in the same geographic area within the reservation boundaries.
Apache cultural experts have indicated the red-pigmented pictograph elements,
such as the horse depictions from the Sulphur Canyon and Granary Cave areas, are
important to Apache identity and affiliation to the Chiricahua mountainscape. For
example, Silas Cochise (personal communication, 2009) suggests that elements painted in
red such as Apache crown dancers “are why the mountains are important to us.” This
connection manifested through inherent Apache identity as the Chihenende (red paint
people) band of Chiricahua Apache not only demonstrates strong kinship relations over
time and space but the connections the Chiricahua and other mountain landscapes
continue to have for Apache people despite exile from their homeland more than one
hundred years ago. During a visit to the West Stronghold area of the Dragoon Mountains
in southeast Arizona the late Berle Kanseah—the father of Mescalero cultural expert
James Kunestsis—indicates that the red pictographs he observed suggested the
Chihenende people had been there. Similarly, on during a visit to the East Stronghold
Canyon in 2009, Mescalero cultural expert Clarice Rocha (personal communication,
2009) stated that a red pigment concentric circle pictograph element at site 03-05-01-248
was a “council circle” or a place marker indicating “this is the place.”
Metal Axe Cuts
Within the Chiricahua Mountain range a limited number of probable Apache site
features exhibited steel-cut posts. One of these is located in the granary cave area on the
eastern side of the Chiricahua Mountains while the other is in Rock Creek on the western
side of the mountain range. Due the highly perishable nature of wood constructing
materials utilized for various Apache site types including wickiups, ramadas, and walledup “cache” structures, very few surviving archaeological examples have been reported.
Haecker (2002:26) has reported metal axe-cut juniper boughs at a possible Mescalero
Apache ranchería within the Florida Mountains in New Mexico.
One of these sites is a “granary” or “cache” composed of cobbles, mortar,
branches, and pliant twigs located in the Granary Cave area of the Chiricahua Mountains
AR03-05-01-247. The base of one large oak exhibits clean, deep cuts from a metal axe,
while the tip of another oak branch and two of the sotol stalks are cut cleanly through
their entire diameter (Sechrist 2008:49). However, known surviving metal axe-cut posts
or branches associated with walled up cave caches in the Chiricahua Mountains are
extremely rare.
Chiricahua Mountain Research Areas and Findings
A review of Coronado National Forest site files indicates various sites have been
reported and/or recorded throughout the Chiricahua Mountains that suggest a probable
late historical-period Apache presence. The sites range from historical-period battlefield
areas to walled up rock shelter and cave enclosures. However, many of the sites visited
and recorded during the fieldwork component of this dissertation are often remote and
difficult to access. This is important to note because various Apache cultural experts
involved in this dissertation research were Apache elders and various sites could not be
visited due to rugged and high elevations, which involve long periods of hiking to access.
Moreover, although various research areas within the Chiricahua Mountain range
were visited throughout the entirety of this dissertation, more emphasis was placed on the
Rucker Canyon and Jack Wood Canyon areas for site visitation and pedestrian survey.
The focus on the Rucker research area was due to the fact that a vast majority of
historical-period documentation exists indicating Apache presence in the Rucker Canyon
and surrounding areas. Furthermore, both my supervisors, Mary Farrell and William
Gillespie suggested that these areas would be ideal to look at more closely in reference to
Apache landscape occupations due to previously recorded sites as “possibly” Apache and
their more than 40 years of combined experience conducting archaeological research for
the Coronado National Forest.
Although the isolated nature and limited access by humans has kept most of the site
areas in good condition the ephemeral, highly mobile nature of historical-period Apache
groups still leave little on the land base, despite good preservation and indications of
Apache occupation. Furthermore, recent sharing of information and identification of
common interests between the Arizona and New Mexico Apache nations and Forest
Service entities now managing Ancestral areas of the Chiricahua, Mescalero, San Carlos
and White Mountain Apache tribes is ushering in exciting opportunities for collaborative
land management strategies between Apache tribal entities and land managing agencies
such as the Coronado National Forest.
Cave Creek
Cave Creek lies near the small community of portal within the Chiricahua
Mountains (Chapter 1, Figure 2). The only site visited within the Cave Creek area was a
large cave-like feature, which protects a probable Apache pictograph painting in black
pigment with a figure standing behind a horse. Various compliance-based pedestrian
surveys have been conducted in the Cave Creek area, but, as Seymour (1992) suggests,
most of the sites in the Cave Creek area have been discovered independently.
Apache Pass (Fort Bowie Area)
Established in 1858 Fort Bowie is located at the extreme northern boundary of the
Chiricahua Mountains in Apache Pass, (Chapter 1, Figure 2) which acts as the dividing
point between the Dos Cabezas and Chiricahua Mountains. It served as one of the major
command posts from which the U.S. Army conducted campaigns against Cochise,
Geronimo, and the Chiricahua Apache from the 1860s through the 1880s (Herskovitz
1978:1). The area was intensely occupied by various Apache bands including Cochise’s
Chokonen band. A well-flowing perennial spring that is located at the site not only
attracted the Apache but the military as well. The area, also known as Apache Pass, lies
in the heart of a region the Spanish called Apachería (McChristian 2005). In 2007, Fort
Bowie Historian Larry Ludwig guided Coronado National Forest heritage personal to
various probable Apache sites within the area. Ludwig showed old historical-period
photographs of an area within the park that illustrates an Apache scout camp with
wickiup structures and associated artifacts. Although the wickiup structures have long
since deteriorated, cleared level areas and various historical-period artifacts still are on
the surface including metal cut triangle blanks used to make “Apache tinklers/jingles”—
an item diagnostic of late historical-period Apache occupation. Another area in the low
hills on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management above Ft. Bowie consists of
various cleared areas and various associated historical-period artifacts including
fragmented glass and modified bullet shell casings, and cut metal, which have been
reported at Fort Bowie as diagnostic to historical-period Apache occupation. Basehart
(1959) suggested that the Mescalero people that he interviewed for his subsistence and
sociopolitical study recognized the area as “…the major camping ground of groups
associated with Chokonen band leader Cochise.” The area around the fort was well
supplied with springs, and was a center for seasonal dispersal of family units for food
collecting purposes, and a gathering point for group feasts and ceremonies.
The “Bascom Affair” Incident
A brief description of what is known as the “Bascom Affair” is necessary to better
understand Apache-U.S. military interactions in southeastern Arizona, and how the
incident sparked nearly a decade long tribulations. In 1861, a report was made that a
young boy named “Felix Ward,” was abducted near Johnny Ward’s Ranch 11 miles south
of Fort Buchanan in southern Arizona. Ward reported the incident to Fort Buchanan and
the next morning First Lieutenant George Nicholas Bascom looked at the trail and was
convinced the tracks led “toward the San Pedro River and then into the Chokonen
country” (Sweeney 146:1991). Colonel Morrison had given a young Lieutenant John
Bascom, who had no previous Indian experience, the authority to “use whatever means
necessary to punish those responsible and to recover the boy” (Sweeney 1991:146).
Bascom was convinced that the party responsible was the Chokonen band of Chiricahua,
particularly Cochise’s band. However, the Chiricahua Apache had nothing to do with the
raid, rather it may have been a group of White Mountain Apaches (Sweeney 1991:146).
Bascom’s command marched into Chokonen territory to Apache Pass at the northern end
of the Chiricahua Mountains (Sweeney 1991:148). Bascom sent runners to find Cochise
and convince him to come in for meetings regarding the incident (Sweeney 1991:149).
On Monday, February 4, Cochise came in accompanied by his brother, his wife, a few
warriors and two of his children; however Bascom indicated they would be kept as
prisoners until the boy was returned (Sweeney 1991:150). Cochise was able to escape and
took refuge on a hill about 600 yards from the stationed soldiers. In the days that ensued
Cochise demanded the return of the captives, however Bascom continued to refuse
(Sweeney 1991:150-152). The Apaches then captured a wagon carrying Mexican and
American passengers. The Mexican passengers were killed but the Americans were kept
as prisoners to possibly exchange for Bascom’s Apache prisoners. (Sweeney 1991:154156). Ensuing days saw both parties attempting to negotiate a prisoner exchange.
However, a skirmish broke out and both groups suffered casualties and a few days later
both the American prisoners and Chiricahua prisoners held captive by both parties were
executed (Sweeney 1991:158-162). The execution of his family members enraged
Cochise and hostilities between the Chokonen’s and U.S military continued throughout
the 1860s” (Sweeney 1991:166-167).
The site (AZ CC:15:90 ASM) lies on a small ridge top with a commanding view
of Fort Bowie National Historic Park to the south-southeast. The site has been
documented by Larry Ludwig and Dan McGrew (2012) who performed minimal
pedestrian survey of the area after a recent wild land forest fire, but have indicated much
more archaeological work is needed at the site, including a systematic pedestrian and
metal detector survey Ludwig (personal communication, 2010) suggests, there is a high
probability that the site may be where Chiricahua Chokonen band leader Cochise’s group
camped during the so-called “Bascom Affair” involving the U.S. military and Chiricahua
Apache. Various historical-period and ethnographic accounts of the “Bascom Affair”
incident exist (Spicer 1962; Sweeney 1991; Thrapp 1967), however, locating the actual
Apache campsite on the ground has been difficult. The site location, ethnographic
accounts, and various archaeological features and artifact concentrations appear to match
the circumstances and the timeframe of the incident, thus this site could possibly
represent an Apache occupation of the area (Figures 6.10 and 6.11).
The area was visited with representatives from the Mescalero and White
Mountain Apache Tribes as a component of this dissertation research (Figure 6.12).
Because a substantial portion of the site lies on private land there were access issues. The
visitations were kept to pedestrian reconnaissance of the areas of the site that lie within
Bureau of Land Management boundaries.
Figure 6.10. Site AZ CC:15:90 ASM. Clockwise from bottom (1) cut cartridge
casing; (2) Blue fragmented bead; (3) aqua chipped glass fragment. Photograph by
Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Figure 6.11. Crimped spent cartridge casings and turquoise bead fragment from site
AZ CC:15:90 ASM. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National
Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Figure 6.12. Apache collaborators Mae Burnette, Silas Cochise and Jayro Treas
observing blue fragmented beads and cut metal fragment at AZ CC:15:90 ASM in
2010. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest
Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Horseshoe and Pothole Canyons
The Horseshoe and Pothole Canyon areas of the Chiricahua Mountains are located
just north of the Jack Wood Canyon research area on the eastern side of the Chiricahua
Mountains (Chapter 1, Figure 1.2). Mark Sechrist (2007) investigated areas to the
southeast in the Granary Cave area and located various large, above-ground roasting pit
features, pictograph panels in black and red pigment, walled rock shelters with steel axecut support beams, and artifacts including an Apache tinkler. Two roasting pits have been
noted but not intensely recorded up the Pothole Canyon drainage as well as a rock shelter
site with metate and few ceramic sherds. In 1871, a battle occurred in Horseshoe Canyon
between an estimated 60 Apaches and a detachment of federal troops but the site has
never been relocated. The historical-period documentation (Smith 1871) suggests the
fight occurred three miles up the canyon after leaving the San Simon Valley. During the
dissertation not much attention was given to the Horseshoe/Pothole Canyon areas due to
the immense difficulties of accessing some the previously recorded sites labeled as
“possibly” Apache. In 1977, Alan Ferg wrote an article for the Kiva journal regarding a
possible Chiricahua Apache burial found in a rock shelter in the Horseshoe/Pothole
Canyon area (Ferg 1977). However, most of the recorded sites lie far up the canyons and
are primarily roasting pit sites with little or no associated material remains. Future
research beyond the scope of this dissertation could involve a sample excavation of
probable Apache roasting pits located at various locations throughout the Chiricahua
Mountains. Various attempts have been made to relocate the battle site area, but
overgrowth, erosion, and the ephemeral nature of battle site archaeology have made it
difficult. A recent wild land fire burned through areas but post-fire pedestrian surveys
yielded no evidence of the battle site area.
Rock Creek
The Rock Creek Canyon area of the dissertation lies within the central portion and
west front of the Chiricahua Mountains (Chapter 1, Figure 1.2). Much of the canyon
extending south has not been surveyed. A forest service range employee recently reported
a walled up cave /rock shelter in the canyon. Remnants of walled masonry structures are
present in rock shelters with one of these having an associated steel axe-cut erect juniper
post. Various historical-period materials have been located on a saddle just below the site
as well. Various rock art pictograph panels have been documented further up the canyon
(Frey 2001). Frey (2001) suggests that most of the elements are non-representational and
consist of dot and line patterns, squares, zigzags, and chevrons.
In his Chiricahua Apache Subsistence and Socio-Political Organization Basehart
(1959) describes the place name Tsetagołka translated as “Mound of White Rocks” near
the mouth of Rock Creek Canyon. Basehart notes that the strongholds of the Chokonon
band leader Cochise and his son Naiche were located in this area. It is unknown to what
extent the Rock Creek area was exploited/used by the Chiricahua, but Basehart suggests
it was a hunting place for deer. Moreover, either Captain T. T. Tidball and Major James
Gormon, officers with the California Volunteers indicate the place names they use for
these areas were those provided by Merejildo Grijalva—a U.S. Army scout who had
previously been captured by the Apache and spent most of his childhood as a captive.
Although, historical-period documentation suggests Apache occupation and relation to
the Rock Creek area through place name association very little archaeological research in
reference to Apache occupation in the area has been conducted. In 2001, Daniel Frey,
with Cochise College conducted a rock art inventory of various areas near the west end of
Rock Creek Canyon as part of a U.S. Forest Service Passport in Time Project. With
guidance and pedestrian survey completed by William Gillespie, Frey and various
volunteers recorded the rock art of four, previously unrecorded rock shelter sites.
One of the sites visited as a component of this dissertation previously recorded as
“possibly Apache” (AR03-05-01-470) consists of a rock shelter with associated
pictograph elements, bedrock grinding features, and a “jacal” wall (Figure 6.13). The site
is an east-facing rock shelter approximately five and a half meters long, four meters deep
and one meter high. Frey recorded the various pictograph elements at the site, Most of the
elements are on the ceiling of the rock overhang, while the most visible and prominent
element consisting of a backwards “S-shape” that appears on the back wall of the shelter.
Among the 23 panels recorded by Frey all the painted elements are in a shade of red
consisting of 48 such elements. However, many of the elements were very faint or
damaged due to weathering and spalling over time.
Figure 6.13. Site AR03-05-01-470. Erect juniper post to the right and walled up
cobble mortar.
During the site visit a small rock crevice was observed south of the rock shelter that
appeared to have stacked cobbles at the bottom. The stacked cobbles within the rock
crevice were strikingly similar to explanations by Opler of historical-period Chiricahua
Apache burial practices (1965:473). Therefore, following the Apache tenet of avoidance
and respect the rock crevice area was not further investigated.
Surveying the site area along a small saddle approximately 60 meters east of AR0305-01-470 resulted in the serendipitous finding of a possible pre-reservation Apache
campsite that may have been associated with AR03-05-01-470. The site, AR03-05-01507, consists of a rock cobble feature and dispersed artifact scatter. The artifact scatter
includes a small metal wire fragment; an amethyst glass fragment (neck and shoulder);
and a light chipped-stone scatter of various materials including obsidian, white chert,
very fine-grained red chert and rhyolite flakes. One small white chert proximal section of
a projectile point measuring 1.5 by 1 centimeter and a small finely retouched obsidian
scraper were located as well.
The light scatter of historical-period materials at the locations does not provide
overwhelmingly convincing material evidence suggesting a historical-period Apache
occupation of sites AR03-05-01-470 or AR03-05-01-507. Moreover, the nonmetal and
non-glass artifacts could have been discarded by people occupying the nearby fourteenth
century Ringo and Kuykendall sites, who may have been exploiting resources in the area
long before intense historical-period Apache occupation of the area. Frey (2001) suggests
that of the rock art elements recorded during the Rock Creek rock art project there are no
pictographs at the sites that resemble the ceramic designs found on vessels and sherds
excavated at the Kuykendall site, which does not prohibit the possibility that pictograph
sites in the canyon will have characteristics unique to the area and indicative of a other
populations through time including those of the fourteenth century (Frey 2001).
Another area within Rock Creek Canyon, further south, was visited and surveyed as
a component of this dissertation. The area was chosen based on a report to the Coronado
National Forest Heritage Program by an employee on the Douglas District of the
Coronado of a small mud-like structure within the Rock Creek Canyon area. As a result
of the survey of the area a total of five sites were recorded (AR-03-05-01-557, AR-03-0501-558, AR-03-05-01-559, AR-03-05-01-560 and AR-03-05-01-561). The first site
recorded (AR-03-05-01-557) was the mud-like structure reported by the Douglas District
employee. The site consists of a “bee-hive-like” structure made up of angular cobbles,
scavenged juniper, and sotol stalks and joined together with mud mortar (Figures 7.14
and 7.15).
Figure 6.14. Site 03-05-01-557. Walled up “Bee-hive” Cache. Rock Creek area.
Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s
Office, Tucson.
Figure 6.15. Site 03-05-01-557. Interior of walled-up “Bee-hive” Cache. Photograph
by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson.
The limbs were closely inspected for metal tool or axe cut marks but none were
observed. Outside the east facing entryway there is a concentration of flat-stacked
sandstone cobbles. However, no other cultural materials were observed around or within
the feature. The walled up “cache” feature within the rock shelter suggests it was used a
storage chamber. However, it is unclear whether its contents were removed long ago or
later by unknown visitors. The morphology of the feature varies from other similar
known features within the Chiricahua Mountains. Other known structures, including
those on the southeast side of the mountain reported by Sechrist (2008), utilize the
existing cliff/rock shelter face as part of the superstructure of the feature. The feature is
unique within the Chiricahua Mountain range because it is well known through historicalperiod accounts that such features, when encountered by the military, were usually
ransacked or destroyed along with their contents. Lambert and Ambler (1961:4) reported
coming across a walled-in area of branches and mud in a rock shelter in the Alamo Hueco
Mountains in southern New Mexico. Unlike the Rock Creek “bee-hive” cache site the
branches composing the rock shelter structure exhibited metal cut marks, which indicates
a historical-period component and possibly Apache. Opler (1965:73) suggests that the
construction techniques of cave or rock shelter caches were very similar, and that the
term for cave cache and grave was the same.
Sechrist (2008) submitted two core wood samples to Beta Analysis Inc. for
radiocarbon dating from the rock shelter cache site in the Granary Cave area and from the
previously discussed erect juniper post from site AR03-05-01-470. The results from the
analysis suggest a broad statistical range with multiple intercepts that suggest the
branches died some time with the last ca. 300 years. Sechrist (personal communication,
2014) suggests that the lack of a developed chronology in the Chiricahua Mountain area
for juniper makes it difficult to achieve precise dates from collected samples. Because the
wood used in construction of the cache sites consists primarily of both scavenged and cut
juniper— which has been difficult to obtain reliable dates from, future work needs to
involve obtaining a chronology for the Rock Creek area. This would most likely take
pulling a large number of coring samples from juniper trees within the area.
The east facing cliff face where site AR-03-05-01-557 was recorded appeared
highly conducive for other rock shelter/cave sites. Therefore, the rest of the east facing
cliff face from site AR-03-05-01-557 (north-south) was surveyed for additional rock
shelter sites. The next site encountered along the cliff face (AR-03-05-01-558) consisted
of a small rock shelter (chamber) with a small-stacked cobble concentration and very
light ceramic scatter. The ceramics consist of thin-walled, sand tempered plain ware
sherds (Figure 6.16). There was consensus among William Gillespie, Forest Service
archaeologist Chris LeBlanc and I that the ceramics appear diagnostic of reported Apache
ceramics in southeast Arizona (Ferg 2004). Therefore, the two ceramic sherds were
collected to show to Alan Ferg of the Arizona State Museum and the Mescalero Tribal
Historic Preservation Officer, Holly Houghton. Ferg (personal communication, 2014)
suggests the two ceramic sherds from could possibly be Apache, but it is difficult to tell.
Figure 6.16. Possible Apache plain ware ceramic from site AR-03-05-01-558.
Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisors
Office, Tucson, AZ.
Similarly, during his Masters research, Sechrist (2008) recorded site AR-03-0501-507 where he observed 12 plain ware ceramics that were possibly Apache. The 12
sherds reported by Sechrist (2008:202) are “dark brown in color with irregular, coarsely
smoothed finishes.” Sechrist (2008:202) suggests that the ceramic attributes are
consistent with those reported by Ferg (2004) and Gifford’s (1980:163-164) definition of
Apache Plain from the Point of Pines region. Sechrist sent digital photos of the ceramics
to Alan Ferg to get his interpretation. However, similar to Ferg’s assessment of the
ceramics from site AR-03-05-01-558 the sherds could not be definitively identified as
Apache. In her interpretation of the same ceramic sherds, the Mescalero Apache THPO
Holly Houghton (personal communication, 2013) suggests the ceramics from AR-03-0501-558 appear to be Apache based on the micaceous inclusions and lack of slip, which
suggests the original vessel may have been used for cooking. The dark discolorations
likely resulted from re-use and heating over time.
Because, as Ferg suggests, concerning the identification of Apache plain ware
ceramic types, “its still a trick,” the identification of a small number of ceramic sherds
without the association to other diagnostic Apache material remains difficult. Ferg
suggests that there he sees an obvious connection between Western Apache and
Mescalero and Chiricahua ceramics from Arizona and New Mexico but “one can only
intone again that more work will yield more answers” (Ferg 2004:43).
The pedestrian survey along the cliff face continued with the identification of sites
AR-03-05-0-559, AR03-05-01-560, and AR-03-05-0-561. Site AR-03-05-0-559 consists of
a masonry and cache and rock shelter, and AR-03-05-0-561 consists of a rock shelter with
remnants of a masonry cache (Figures 6.17 and 6.18).
Site AR03-05-01-560 consists of a “multi-rock sheltered complex. The trichambered rock shelter was located at the western terminus of the cliff face with an
associated chipped-stone scatter and groundstone concentration. Unlike the other rock
shelters encountered during the survey the artifact concentration was more diverse
including various types of flaked-stone debitage, a single plain ware ceramic sherd and
two basalt hand manos. The site also lacked any trace of mortar-cobble structures that
were present at the other recorded rock shelter sites in the immediate area. The individual
ceramic sherd was collected and shown to both Alan Ferg and Holly Houghton. Both
suggest that the sherd does not appear to be Apache because it does not seem to exhibit
characteristics of plain ware Apache pottery, however, again Ferg (personal
communication 2014) cautions that it could be, and reiterates the problems outlined
earlier in this dissertation of the identification of Apache plain ware ceramics.
Figure 6.17. Site AR03-05-01-557. Interior of rock shelter with residual “dissolved”
cache mortar on ledge near center of photograph. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk.
On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Figure 6.18. Residual mortar from rock shelter cache site AR03-05-01-557.
Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s
Office, Tucson, AZ.
The occupation of the Rock Creek area by Chiricahua Apache groups as referenced
in historical-period documents and the physical presence/evidence of “cache” structures,
which as Opler (1965) observed were used by Apache groups for burial practices and
storage, suggests a “probable” Apache presence but it is still uncertain. Perhaps
undisturbed Apache caching structures are yet to be discovered in other remote accesses
of the Chiricahua mountain range that contain material remains strongly tied to an
Apache affiliation.
Jack Wood Canyon
The Jack Wood Canyon area on the eastern slopes of the Chiricahua Mountains
(Chapter 1, Figure 1.2) was recommended by William Gillespie as an area of probable
intense Apache occupation due to the presence of various roasting pit sites throughout the
Canyon and a large fortified site located on a promontory ridge with commanding views
of the San Simon Valley to the east. Historical-period accounts suggest that the canyons
on the east side of the Chiricahua Mountains have been occupied by the Chiricahua
Apaches since at least the 1690s (Naylor and Polzer 1986). There are a number of
petroglyph sites in the canyon that are predominantly prehistoric (Mimbres-Mogollon),
(Gillespie 2006, personal communication), but there are a number of more recent
additions, including an hourglass figure that could be Apache (AR03-05-01-295). Other
rock art sites that were visited in the Jack Wood Canyon area include Site AR03-05-01270 and AR03-05-01-294. Site AR03-05-01-270 consists of over 30 petroglyph elements
on a rocky dark volcanic basalt outcrop at northeast bank of main drainage. Elements
consist of anthropomorphs, deer, sheep, zigzags, partial interlocking spirals, and
elaborate abstract panels on several boulders. Similarly, site AR03-05-01-294 consists of
approximately 20 to 30 petroglyph rock art elements on a tabular basalt outcropping.
Many of the elements are faint and are comparable to the elements at nearby site AR0305-01-270. Although the petroglyph elements at both sites AR03-05-01-270 and AR0305-01-294 have been designated within the range of Mimbres-Mogollon periods and
neither of the sites contact pictograph elements the sites were visited by Apache cultural
experts due to their proximity to possible Apache roasting pit sites within the Jack Wood
Canyon area.
The first areas visited with tribal experts were sites AR-03-05-01-460 and AR0305-01-461. Site AR-03-05-01-460 consists of a small but distinct agave roasting pit and
both prehistoric and historical-period artifacts situated on east side of saddle area. The
majority of historical-period artifacts appear to date to the 1880s including one military
issue Springfield carbine cartridge with an 1882 head stamp (C-F-3-82). Eleven other
cartridges, including six .44-40 caliber Winchesters cartridge casings, also occur at the
site as well as an individual metal button stamped “A.J. Tower Co./Boston”
Figure 6.19. James Kunestsis examining roasting pit (to right) at site AR-03-05-01460 in 2009. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest
Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Ceramics include three small plain ware sherds, which appear to be from a single
highly polished bowl, with an orange tinged surface and has a fine white temper. The
plain ware ceramics were not collected for further interpretation due to the lack of
Apache ceramic characteristics. Chipped stone artifacts include approximately 40 flakes
and debitage consisting of white and grey chert and purple rhyolite.
Site AR03-05-01-461 consist of an unusual fortified hilltop site, featuring a very
good view of the upper San Simon valley, impressive defensive wall construction to
restrict access to the hilltop, and a notable scarcity of artifacts. After a site visit in 1988
Gillespie and Riggs suggested, “Though diagnostic artifacts are absent, the assemblage,
together with location, strongly suggests historic-period Apache affiliation.” Gillespie
and Riggs (1988:2) suggest the only 2 questionable items were located within the
fortified wall area. More were found outside of the fortified area to the Southwest in the
saddle and extending downslope consisting primarily white chalcedony and a distinctive
yellow-brown rhyolite with glassy phenocrysts (Gillespie and Riggs 1988:2). However,
due to a recent forest fire and resulting red slurry drop over much of the site area many of
the artifacts were difficult to relocate.
The defensive walls at site AR03-05-01-461 are far more substantial than
breastwork fortifications that have been found at Apache battle sites (e.g., K-H Butte;
Battle of Dragoons), suggesting they were not built under duress. Rather, the site may
have been a planned refuge area, perhaps one that wasn't used much. A possible pot break
site of approximately 100 sherds was located during the steep hike up to site AR03-05-01461. The plain ware sherds appeared to be from a single thick, sand temper, fine-grained
paste ceramic vessel. Most of the sherd interiors appeared to have been smudged with a
somewhat oxidized “orangy” exterior. The ceramics did not appear to meet the
characteristics of known and reported Apache ceramics reported from the Chiricahua
area, but have been associated with previous groups who utilized the fortified area, which
was then possibly later utilized by Apache groups.
The location of the site on a prominent peak with steep cliff edges would have
made it difficult for any enemy attempting to gain access to the site from the east or west.
However, the approach up the gentler main ridge to the south could reach the saddle
relatively easily. The upper slopes of the saddle are sixty meters apart, with scattered
large and small boulders. The low, central portion of the saddle for approximately thirty
meters in front of the walls is open, with neither trees nor rocks to provide cover. Thus,
any intruders would have to cross this exposed saddle, directly in front of the
fortifications to reach the site. A metal detector survey of the site failed to produce any
metal items in the fortified area or adjacent saddle near the southern entryway of the
Rucker Canyon
Rucker Canyon is located in the southern Chiricahua Mountains of southeastern
Arizona (Chapter 1, Figure 1.2). This area is where a bulk of the pedestrian survey (300600 acres) and the ethnographic interviews occurred. During the pedestrian survey and
oral interview components of the dissertation Forest Service heritage program personnel
and tribal collaborators resided at the Rucker Administrative site. Archaeological sites
occurring within and around Rucker Canyon consist of three primary temporal and
cultural associations: late prehistoric habitation, the U.S. military and Apache conflict,
and early ranching. Camp Rucker was established in 1878 to serve as a base of operations
and supply depot for two companies of Indian scouts sent out to patrol for hostile
Apaches in southeastern Arizona and southwestern New Mexico (Gillespie and Farrell
1994:8). Gillespie and Farrell (19940 suggest the area, encompassing the southern
Chiricahua Mountains including the Rucker Canyon area, was visited only occasionally
by people other than the Apache throughout several centuries before 1878. Gillespie and
Farrell (1994) also have indicated that the Rucker Canyon area was the setting for a
number of events and developments that marked the transition of dominance of
southeastern Arizona from the Chiricahua Apaches to the Euroamericans (Gillespie and
Farrell 1994:6). Aside from Apache scouts associated with the military, however, very
little is known about Apache occupation of the area. Western Apache ethnographer
Grenville Goodwin’s (Goodwin 1932) work with Apache place names includes “Tci-tc-ildje-dji” as a location on the west side of the Chiricahua Mountains that is in the same
area as modern day Rucker Canyon. According to William Gillespie (personal
communication, 2009), he had asked number Apache individuals about names for Rucker
Canyon, including elders from San Carlos during trips to Mt. Graham (a southern Holy
mountain in southeast Arizona), and elders from Mescalero, including Silas Cochise.
However, none of the individuals Gillespie spoke with were familiar with either the place
names Goodwin (1932) or Basehart (1959) suggested for the Rucker area.
Most archaeological field projects conducted within the Rucker Canyon area have
focused on the bottomlands associated and adjacent to Camp Rucker. In 1869, the Battle
of Chiricahua Pass took place between a large group of Apaches including Cochise, and
companies of the U.S. Army cavalry. The location of the battle was determined using
historical-period documents including a topographical sketch map. According to William
Gillespie (personal communication, 2009), the person who first identified the sketch as
the Rucker area of the Chiricahua Mountains is Alicia Delgadillo, a one-time caretaker of
the 4-acre Fort Sill Apache property in Cochise Stronghold that was left to the tribe by a
former private landowner in the east stronghold of Mountains. Gillespie indicates that
after historian Edwin Sweeney's Cochise book Cochise: Chiricahua Apache Chief book
came out in 1991, Sweeney had wrongfully identified the battle site area as somewhere in
Tex Canyon – an area west of the Chiricahua Mountains. Miss Deladillo went out and
determined it was Rucker instead, and Sweeney, Gillespie and some other individuals
about her determination of the battle site area. Some of the individual’s, most likely
included amateur enthusiasts/relic hunters who metal detected the battle site area and
probably collected lots of artifacts (Gillespie, personal communication 2009).
The battle site area determined by Miss Delgadillo was visited during the
fieldwork component of this dissertation by Apache cultural experts. However, as
Gillespie had suggested (personal communication, 2009), metal-detector enthusiasts had
scavenged much of the area over time and unknown persons have removed much of the
material that may have associated with the battle.
Rucker Canyon Area Sites and Survey
Higher altitude areas to the north of the Camp Rucker overlooking the Rucker
Canyon valley bottom were surveyed in the early fall of 2009. The higher elevation areas
were focused on based on the idea that various Apache sites within the Chiricahua
Mountains, including caves and rock shelter sites, have been recorded at high elevations
in very rugged settings with difficult access. A total of three previously unrecorded sites
were located during the higher altitude survey above Rucker Canyon lowlands (AR03-0501-585, Site AR03-05-01-586, and AR03-05-01-587). Site AR03-05-01-585, consists of a
moderate flaked-stone concentration dominated by volcanic basalt flakes. Approximately
three white chert flakes, and one red chert flake with outer white chert band were
observed. The site rests on a light slope leading south up to cliff edge of exposed
bedrock. Large raw materials of fine-grained volcanic basalt were also observed in the
assemblage suggesting the possibility of a nearby quarry. The second site recorded,
AR03-05-01-586, consists of a light flaked-stone scatter on a cleared out area of exposed
bedrock. The material consists of large cobbles of unworked quartzite, two white chert
flakes, and one fine-grained red chert flake with outer white band. Finally, site AR03-0501-587, consists of a moderate flaked-stone scatter of volcanic basalt. Most of the
material consists of primary debitage with only one possible cutting tool observed. The
sites, which are all situated with commanding views of the Rucker Canyon alluvial valley
bottom to the south, serve as very good lookout points for any approaching parties.
However, the lack of any diagnostic material remains attributable to an Apache
association makes it difficult to suggest the sites relate to an Apache presence.
The presence of white chert chipped-stone artifacts has been used as a “possible”
diagnostic to Apache affiliation (Bourke 1890, Gregory 1981), but this has been used
primarily as a trait of “Western Apache” occupations farther north on the Fort Apache
Reservation and lands now managed by the Tonto National Forest. In consultations with
Western Apache communities during the Highway 260 Project located near Little Green
Valley, Arizona Cibecue Apache cultural expert Levi Dehose suggested, “Apaches
coveted white flint or chert for points because white symbolically represents the female”
(Krall, Chanthaphonh and Ferguson 2011:110). Victor Smith, who lived near Middle
Verde (Verde Valley) when he was younger (Krall, Chanthaphonh and Ferguson
2011:107) suggests, “obsidian was often the material of choice to make projectile points”
(Krall, Chanthaphonh and Ferguson 2011:110). Intrigued by Mr. Dehose’s recognition of
the significance of white chert to the Cibecue Apache, and Mr. Smith’s recognition of the
importance of obsidian to Apache individuals in the Verde Valley area of Arizona, I
asked Ramon Riley (personal communication, 2014) if he had ever heard of an Apache
“white chert preference” and he suggested, “the only very significant arrowhead I know
about is the black ones, all hold some kind of power but the black one I know for sure.
Black arrowheads is use for healing and warding off evil, people today wear it around
their neck and others have it in their pouch.” Riley’s statement was very interesting Mr.
Riley and Mr. Dehose are both members of the White Mountain Apache Tribes, but are
from different communities within the tribe. Cibecue – where Mr. Dehose lives, is on the
western end of the reservation and is somewhat isolated from other White Mountain
communities. Mr. Riley lives in the Seven Mile community located near Fort Apache and
the tribal headquarters in Whiteriver. Both Riley and Dehose’s statements’ are interesting
because they are important for similar reasons being associated with power and ongoing
importance of certain materials within Apache belief-systems. This is important for this
dissertation because it demonstrates how diverse Apache and American Indian
knowledge systems can be. The statements are important to aiding in the identification
potential Apache sites and managing those sites appropriately that exhibit such materials
as white and black chipped-stone materials.
These statements also contribute to the second research question of this section of
the dissertation as well because they not only hint at past social processes such as
resource preference and social ties to resources that embodies important colors of power,
such as white and black, but the statements also demonstrate the uniqueness of
interpretations at the intratribal and intertribal social level as well. Although both cultural
experts (Riley and Dehose) are enrolled in the same tribe they provided their own unique
explanations in reference to white chert material. Similarly, the statements by Dehose and
Smith suggest a intertribal similarity from different Apache tribes. Therefore, better
understandings of contemporary social processes are touched upon by the statements of
two cultural experts because they demonstrate equally important, but varying statements
as a result of living and learning socially in different communities within the same
1869 Apache/Military Battlesite
In 1869, the U.S. military began to increase efforts in southeastern Arizona to
pacify Apache groups. For example, a campaign into commanded by Captain Reuben
Bernard and Lieutenant John Lafferty, and guided by Merejildo Grijalva, left Camp
Bowie for the southern Chiricahua Mountains (Gillespie and Farrell 1994:7). The
company followed fresh tracks into the Rucker basin and on October 20, 1869, the
soldiers encountered Apache warriors at the confluence of Rucker and Red Rock
Canyons, and for much of the day attempted but could not dislodge the Apaches
(Gillespie and Farrell 1994:7). Gillespie and Farrell (1994:8) suggest the Battle of
Chiricahua Pass represented an important turning point in the Chiricahua Apache and
Euroamerican relationships in southeastern Arizona. During the battle, two soldiers and
an undetermined number of Apaches were killed. The battle was considered the most
intensive battle in the Rucker Canyon area. The combatants included 61 U.S. Army
soldiers and an estimated 100 or more Apaches.
The 1869 Battle of Chiricahua Pass (AR03-05-01-393) took place on a ridge to the
east of Camp Rucker. For many years the general location of the battle was known but
not the exact location. A sketch of the battle site area from the National Archives in
Washington D.C. indicated topography and Apache and military movements (Figure
7.20). The sketch was used to assist in matching battle site and background topography to
discern the exact location of the site. Despite the fact that relic hunters have metal
detected some of the site, research in the fall of 2008 located several Spencer cartridges
as well as large metates and a dispersed chipped-stone scatter on top of the ridge that had
apparently been untouched by relic hunters.
The chipped-stone scatter associated with site AR03-05-01-393 consists of
approximately 15 flakes represented by four materials (green chert, white chert, rhyolite
and jasper types) scattered over an area of 100 by 30 meters on the ridge top. One
projectile point of red jasper material approximately three centimeters long was located
near the southern edge of the ridge top. Two large “intact” basin metates are also present
at the site. One measures 55 by 45 centimeters with a grinding area of 34 by 24
centimeters and five centimeters deep. The other measures 48 by 36 centimeters with a
grinding area of 28 by 22 centimeters and two centimeters deep. William Gillespie
(personal communication, 2009) suggests that much of the surface material composing
the battle site and ridge top Apache camp was most likely stripped by relic hunters over
time, which is a constant problem in reference to known “on-the-ground” locations of
historical-period Apache battle sites.
Figure 6.20. Sketch of 1869 Battle of Chiricahua Pass area (after Bernard 1869) and
1933 photograph of Rucker Canyon area. Note arrows showing prominent matching
peaks in both the panorama sketch and 1933 photograph.
Moreover, Mark Altaha (personal communication, 2009) suggests that the Apaches
moved around a lot, which was reasoning for the lack of material items on the ridge top.
Apache Scout Camps in Rucker Canyon
Camp Rucker was established as a “Camp supply,” in April of 1878 to act as a
supply base for companies of American Indian scouts sent into the field to locate what
were then referred to as “renegade” Apaches in southeastern Arizona and New Mexico.
Altshuler (1983) has indicated it was the only military post in the U.S. Southwest that
was established with the sole purpose of supporting American Indian scout companies. In
December 1878, the name of the post was officially changed to Camp John A. Rucker to
honor a former scout commander who drowned following heavy rains in a normally calm
creek at the west edge of the camp. Following the official name change, the resident
cavalry company had been replaced by Co. E of the 12th Infantry. Indian scouts continued
to use the post, but shifted their base of operations to better-established posts including
Camp Huachuca and Camp Thomas (Gillespie and Farrell 1994:9). However, the camp
did not serve this function long—only a few months—but was used sporadically by
soldiers and scouts until Geronimo’s final surrender in 1886. John Rope, a well-known
Western Apache scout, spent time in Rucker Canyon, and was present during the
drowning death of John A. Rucker.
Apache Scouts
Due to harsh conditions and military encroachment many Apache males
responded to new opportunities by enlisting in the U.S. Army as scouts. The Army was
given authority to recruit up to 1000 Indians to act as scouts, “receiving the same pay and
allowance as cavalry soldiers and to be discharged whenever the necessity for their
further employment was abated or at the discretion of the department commander”
(Vanderpot and Majewski 1999:5). The incorporation of American Indian scouts into the
U.S. military following the Civil War became a well-established practice on the northern
Plains, in the far west and later in southwestern territory (particularly Arizona, New
Mexico, and Mexico) of the United States (Vanderpot and Majewski 1999:5).
The actual location of the scout camps from Camp Rucker has been an ongoing
issue. The ephemeral nature of Apache camp sites in general and common “invisibility”
of historical-period Apache material on the ground surface has contributed to lack of
identification of late historical-period Apache sites in the Rucker Canyon area. Although
“dependent camps” which were often occupied by scouts and their families have been
identified at various other locations (e.g., Laluk 2006; Vanderpot and Majewski 1999) the
highly mobile nature of Apache scout commands leaves very little material signature on
the ground surface as well.
However, historical-period military correspondence in the form of a letter from
Lieutenant J. H. Sands regarding the scout camp area suggests the approximate location
from the Camp Rucker area (Figure 6.21). In the 1878 letter, Sands complains of
“unusual noises” that were coming from Lieutenant Henley’s scout camp (Company D)
detachment the previous night. In the letter sent to 1st Lieutenant H. F. Winchester Sands
describes the paced off distance (in yards) of the scout camp from the camp of Company
C 6th Cavalry.
A preliminary survey for the scout camp location in the fall of 2008 using
Winchester’s 325 yard approximated distance of the scout camp from Camp Rucker
resulted in an area west of Camp Rucker that may be the location of the scout Henley’s
scout camp. The area is on a small flat terrace above an east-west running drainage. A
metal detector and pedestrian survey of the landform and surrounding area resulted in the
finding of various historical-period metal artifacts including metal straps, cut nails, holein-cap cans, cartridge casings, and rock clusters (Table 6.1).
Figure 6.21. H.F. Winchester 1st Lt. 6th Cavalry Post Adjutant Letter to 1st Lt.
Austin Henely Commanding Company “D” Indian Scouts suggesting location of
Apache scout Camp from Camp Rucker to be “325 yards.”
Field I.D.
Metal strip with cut nail
Mule shoe
Metal hole-in-cap can (large cap) – appears to be possible large fruit can 3 3/16 inch diameter
Metal hole-in-cap can
Cast iron fragment (possible stove part)
Hole-in-cap lid (smaller than IO3)
Lead sautered hole-in-cap can and sardine can
5 large, thin metal fragments with holes punched through corners (punched holes are .47 inch average)
Square can lid (heavily sautered around perimeter), knife cut opening
Can lid cut three times (unusual) 3 inches from surface
Raised hole-in-cap can (unusual) 2.9 x 2.75 inches, cap has 2 inch diameter
Lap seam can, knife opened portion
Barrel hoop at base of tree in drainage (2 1/4 inch diameter)
Whole can, appears to of had label lead sautering sealed
Small lead sautered can, cylindrical, and metal fragment
Small cylindrical can with internal friction lid
Large metal can fragments
.50-70 cartridge casing (blown out)
Small cylindrical can and base cut out after top removed (unusual), 2 pieces
Sautered hole-in-cap can, cut opening
5/8 inch metal band with nail hole
Hole-in-cap can (cap)
Large square can lid and corner
31 cm x 28.5 cm, possible boulder mortar, 8 cm diameter of cup, 16 cm thick
Sautered metal can with unusual curved cut, cut portion located 5 meters to northwest, 3 pieces of
possible (same can)
Table 6.1. Results of metal detector survey at possible Apache scout camp AR03-0501-555 west of Camp Rucker.
Larry Ludwig (Fort Bowie National Historic Site) has suggested that cut metal is
diagnostic of Apache sites (Ludwig, personal communication 2009). Ludwig has
relocated several Apache scout camps throughout the Fort Bowie National Park based
upon historical-period photographic evidence (Figure 6.22). Some of the metal can
portions from site AR03-05-01-555 exhibit interesting cuts that may be the result of
modification or jingle/tinkler manufacture (Figures 6.23, 6.24, 6.25).
Figure 6.22. Looking nearly West toward Apache Pass with Dos Cabezas
Mountains in the Distance. Tinkler/jingle debitage location in about 250 yards to the
east of figure 6.22. Note Apache wickiups throughout. Photograph taken by one of
the daughters of the Post Commander Major Thomas McGregor sometime between
October 1892 and March 1893. Courtesy of Larry Ludwig. Photo on file, Fort Bowie
National Historic Site.
Figure 6.23. Fort Bowie site (FOBO 2002 B-40). Cut metal blanks for “Apache
tinkler/jingle manufacture. Fort Bowie area. Photo by Nicholas Laluk. On file,
Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Figure 6.24. Apache Tinkler/Jingle types. Adapted from (Ferg 1994: Figure 1.4)
Figure 6.25. Coronado National Forest archaeologist William Gillespie holding “cut
metal” at possible Apache scout camp location AR03-05-01-555 west of Camp
Rucker in 2009. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest
Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Although not much material remains at these camp sites the cleared, level areas
and presence of cut metal debris indicative of Apache tinkler/jingle manufacture (see
Ferg 1994) is suggestive of Apache presence. The location of the site is in approximately
the same distance/area as indicated in the Sands letter and has artifacts that are similar to
those found at other scout camps in Arizona. While walking around the possible scout
camp area Arden Comanche (personal communication, 2009) suggested that scouts
always had escape routes. Silas Cochise then stated that “we always had century plants,
every camp had a place” (Silas Cochise, personal communication 2009). This statement
contributes to the research questions in this section of the dissertation because it
demonstrates a connection to a place (camps) through a primary subsistence resource that
was present at or near sites in Apache reasoning, but not signaled by material remains
such as the presence of a roasting pit or agave processing tools. As Herr (2013:694) has
stated “we can see the integration of Apache life and landscape even where features and
artifacts cannot be found.”
Another potential scout camp area was visited northwest of Camp Rucker that
may have been associated with the Winchester letter and is nearly 325 yards from Camp
Rucker as well. The site AR03-05-01-555 area was pedestrian surveyed and metal
detected. Various metal material remains were located including tin cans, common
manufactured and cut nails, and spent cartridge casings. One of the cartridge casings
consists of a cut .45-70 cartridge casing approximately three feet from a whole spent .4570 cartridge casings (Figure 7.26). At this time, Larry Ludwig (personal communication,
2010) suggested the cut casing might have been cut to make finger rings (Figure 6.27),
which became a common practice when access to various metal items increased.
Figure 6.26. Left. Whole .45-70 caliber cartridge casing. Right. Cut .45-70 cartridge
casing from site AR03-05-01-556.
Figure 6.27. Cut metal Apache finger ring. Photograph courtesy of Larry Ludwig.
Another area within the boundaries of the potential scout camp location consisted
of a cleared level area with various material items including a tiny light purple (possibly
worked) glass fragment, a quartzite crystal, and two fragments of azurite material
overlying a horseshoe nail. These items were located off the eastern boundary of site
AR03-05-01-270. A possible wickiup location within the site boundary was metal
detected as well, but resulted in no positive hits. The presence of the cut cartridge casings,
flaked glass, and possible cleared wickiup areas suggest the possibility of the site area
being associated with Apache scouts. The presence of the crystal (Figure 6.28) and
proximate flaked glass in the cleared wickiup area could be indicative of Apache
presence. During Herr’s (et al. 2011) research near Little Green Valley in northern
Arizona Apache cultural experts suggested that the presence of tsoos (quartz crystals)
was the most captivating of all artifact s recovered at the site (Herr et al. 2011:109). Ferg
(1987:126-128) has suggested the importance of quartz crystals to Apache communities
to foretell the future, to find lost objects, and to provide protection and medicine charms.
Although it is extremely difficult to conclude an historical-period Apache scout presence
at the site the occurrence of various sites that have been linked to “diagnostic” artifact
signatures of Apache landscape presence and the fact that an Apache scout camp did exist
approximately “325” yards from Camp Rucker makes it plausible.
Figure 6.28. Modified (flaked) amethyst glass fragment and quartzlike/precipitate
crystal within potential cleared wickiup area of possible Apache scout camp north of
Camp Rucker (AR03-05-01-556).
Apache Archaeology: Discussion
In sum, more archaeological research on Apache occupation of southeastern
Arizona has to be conducted involving Apache cultural experts. For this dissertation, a
variety of sites have been recorded throughout the Chiricahua mountain range and
specific areas have been identified with high probability of revealing additional
information. In-field collaboration proved to be beneficial in not only recognizing past
use of the Chiricahua Mountain land base but various social processes embedded in the
overall Chiricahua mountain range. Moreover, visitation to these mountainscapes and
places often lead to fuller and more fruitful discussions regarding issues of contemporary
critical importance to Apache communities.
However, in reference to Apache archaeology, has Southwest archaeology
irrevocably damaged itself over time based on attention paid to larger archaeological
deposits left behind by large pueblo dwelling agricultural communities? Our
understandings of Apache occupation and other highly mobile groups that left minimal
material traces in the U.S. Southwest are primarily based on reports of early
ethnographers (Bourke 1883,1891; Goodwin n.d.a, 1932, 1939, 1942; Opler 1965, 1969,
1983). Conversely, are these works becoming static and sometimes idealized? These
sources provide a plethora of information that would have otherwise been potentially lost.
However, can we more effectively use these works as well as contemporary
archaeological/anthropological research projects as tools that are crucially beneficial for
contemporary tribal communities? Short-term employment, heritage tourism, and
mandated consultation/collaborative projects are beneficial to Apache tribal entities but
do not significantly or effectively address issues of extreme importance to Apache
people. As archaeologists involved in collaborative efforts with American Indian
communities we not only need to be self-reflexive but reflective in every component of
our research process.
The archaeological methods of pedestrian and metal detector survey components
of this dissertation resulted in the possibility of various sites being attributable to past
Apache occupations, but the indisputable identification and recognition of Apache sites
within the Chiricahua Mountain area remains based upon scant material evidence.
However, in reference to material culture signals suggesting Apache presence and adding
to a diagnostic artifact trait list suggesting Apache landscape occupations this remains
difficult. Minimal artifact types such as cut metal, ceramics, caching remnants, and
modified metal items were observed in the field during this dissertation research but
using minimal material evidence to identify late historical-period Apache occupations is
an ongoing issue. Perhaps the best way to identify Apache landscape occupation at
potential individual Apache sites is when multiple patterns converge. However, this has
proved to be extremely rare and difficult to suggest based on the archaeological record.
The growing literature and identification of Apache sites is notable, but archaeologists
need continue to re-examine and reflect on how the Apache past and present can be
Potential Apache sites studied by Sechrist (2008) and Seymour (n.d., 2008, 2009a,
2009b, 2013) within the Chiricahua Mountains and local surrounding areas including the
Dragoon and Peloncillo Mountain are probably the most reliable means of comparison in
reference to identifying historical-period Apache material traces on the southeast Arizona
landscape. Perhaps continued attempts to form chronologies of Apache occupation
through time within the Southwest U.S. using archaeological dating techniques such as
thermoluminescence or radiocarbon dating methods will assist researchers to better
understand the Apache past from a material perspective. As Herr (2013:697), further
suggests, by weaving “together the information from both tangible and intangible sources
to relate the enduring stories of Apache history and experience” is essential to
contemporary archaeological research focusing on better delineating Apache landscape
“American Indians hold their lands – places – as having the highest possible meaning,
and all other statements are made with this reference point in mind”
(Vine Deloria, Jr. 1994:63)
This chapter outlines an integrative framework to better understand Apache
conceptions of the past and present through a three-pronged approach to concepts of
place, pragmatism, and cultural landscapes. The following sections discuss the
anthropological history and development of these concepts as well as how they are each
intricately tied together through the Apache conception of “Ni.” I then discuss how two
key research questions (presented in Social Investment section) in reference to Apache
social investment can be approached utilizing the Apache sense of Ni as well as basic
practical reasoning to better understand past and present Apache associations to the land
base beyond material remains.
Anthropology and “Place”
The role of place and landscape in culture has been widely recognized by
anthropologists and described by cultural geographers, ecologists, sociologists, landscape
architects, philosophers, and scholars (e.g., Ashmore and Knapp 1999; Basso 1996;
Bender 1993; Feld and Basso 1996; Greider and Garkovich 1994; Hirsch and O’Hanlon
1995; Rodman 1992; Tilley 1994; Tuan 1977, 1991). Ranging from recognizing simple
features in space to Indigenous rationalizations and social dynamics intricately linked
with the environment and topography, the terms place and landscape provide a useful
framework for describing how people interact with natural and cultural resources.
Furthermore, the conceptual distinction between space and place was probably very
important for colonial and post-colonial power dynamics: non-native settlers viewing
landscapes as empty, undefined space (open for exploitation and settlement), while
Native people already living on the landscape saw them as places imbued with meaning.
Because of this important distinction, it is important to study the continued, long-term
relationship Indigenous people have with the land and how the concept of “place” can be
used to better understand the past and future as well as what is really important to
contemporary Indigenous people.
The “Place” and “Space” Dichotomy
In this section of the dissertation I think it is important to briefly discuss the
distinctions between “place” and “space” and how they relate. Because the two concepts
are closely related and cannot exist without the other it is necessary to briefly delineate
how archaeologists and anthropologists have explained these concepts in reference to
colonial encounters between American Indian and non-native Euroamerican populations.
Thornton (2008:10) provides a definition of place, suggesting “a place is a framed
space that is meaningful to a person or group over time.” Although, this definition is
simple and to the point, I think that it is lacking by attempting to “bound” place by
suggesting it is “framed” space. However, he does point out that “people do not
experience abstract space; they experience places” (Thornton 2008:11). Tilley (1994:910) discusses space as having two forms: (1) neutral space, which is considered divorced
from humanity or the typical inactive view of the landscape and; (2) the alternative view,
suggesting space is not a container but is socially produced. In reference to the
relationship of places to space, Tilley (1994:14) suggests that places constitute space as
centers of meaning and this is the role of place within landscapes. Similarly, Bender
(1993:28) suggests that space is not merely a container because we dwell in places and
abide by them. Stoffle, Zedeño, and Halmo (2001:143) suggest the meaning of place is
grounded in the existential or lived consciousness of it. Thornton (2008:11) goes on to
suggest that places are in fact spaces that “are framed through salient natural and social
frameworks that individuals develop through experiences in nature and as members of a
society would render that would be meaningless otherwise.”
In essence, it seems appropriate to suggest in reference to “place” and “space”
that places are associated with space in varying capacities, but are imbued with meaning
through human cognition, memory, and experience. If place is a portion of space or the
physical environment as Thornton (2008:16) has suggested, and meanings derive from
place it seems reasonable to conclude that they work together to create meaning and
knowledge through group or individual experience.
Archaeological Use of Place
In reference to the archaeological use of the “place,” Binford (1982) suggests that
“if archaeologists are to be successful in understanding the organization of past cultural
systems they must understand the organizational relationships among places, which were
differentially used during the operation of past systems” (Binford 1982:5). This
framework has been particularly well received for its usefulness in describing the
complexity of the land-culture interactions of American Indians. Much recent
anthropological work involving the concept of place appears to be tied to cultural
landscape approaches to the past through experience (Anschuetz et al. 2001; Ferguson
and Colwell-Chanthaphonh 2006; Knapp and Ashmore 1999; Stoffle et al. 1999; Zedeño
et al. 1997).
However, some researchers have suggested the term “landscape” and “place” are
not necessarily the same concepts. For example, Bender (1993) suggests the concept of
“landscape” as a “western gaze,” a historically defined way of viewing the world that
creates separation between nature and people. Moreover, according to Kearney and
Bradley (2009:79) if understandings of landscape are focused as being another form of
attributed symbolic meaning that people assign to their worlds then, “places within
landscapes become divorced from human interaction and are treated as manifestations of
the symbolic or structured relationship between people and their landscapes.” Whitridge
(2004:214) describes “place” as “taken to refer to qualitative, historically emergent,
experientially grounded mode of inhabiting or dwelling in the world that invests
particular locations with personal and collective significance.” Bowser (2004:1)
recognizes a trend of “archaeologists rejecting anthropological theory as the foundation
of archaeological thinking” a growing movement seeking to expand upon new ways of
anthropological thinking and knowing to develop and archaeological method and theory
of “place.” Casey (1996) has argued that “place is the most fundamental form of
embodied experience—the site of a powerful fusion of self, space, and time.” Moreover, I
agree with Golledge and Stimson (1997:387) that “place is seen as the focus of human
intentions,” because through place-based knowledge systems such as Apache ties to the
Chiricahua Mountains the integrative frameworks defining - Apache culture and history
and how they are tied to present-day Apache concerns and well-being can be highlighted.
More recently, Eiselt (2012) has embraced these recognitions of place as
embodied experience and as the focus of human intentions in her study of Jicarilla
Apache enclavement in northern New Mexico. Using the concepts of Jicarilla
cosmeogeography and practices of place-making Eiselt (2012:145) defines
cosmeogeography as “a system of territorial organization in which the concept of space
depends on the coordination of the body with astronomical or geographic markers.” Her
argument, examining concepts of power as the basis for tribal boundaries, moiety
divisions, and sacred geography defined through reference to the human body (Eiselt
2012:166), benefits the archeological use of place because it strengthens large-scale
regional identity of Jicarilla occupations of large-portions of New Mexico through the
innovative use of multiple concepts to explain the Jicarilla embodied experience.
In essence, based upon these recognitions, it seems feasible to suggest that various
scholarly perceptions of the concept of “place” involve some type of human relationship,
interaction, or experience with the natural environment that transcends time and space.
The interrelatedness of all things and the reciprocal nature of these relations are integral
to understanding basic underpinnings of Apache conceptions of the past and present.
Moreover, the basic application of Apache knowledge—rationalizations and
worldviews—pragmatic thinking, and the creative modification of research goals can
illuminate much about the Apache past and contribute to stronger collaborative
relationships between American Indian groups and non-American Indian researchers.
Apache Conception of “Place”
To continue to form better understandings of the Apache past it is necessary to
understand how Apache groups conceptualize “place” and how the concept of place
defines and is intricately tied to Apache past, present, and future. Basso’s (1996) seminal
work Wisdom Sits in Places demonstrates the importance of place to Apache people and
how social behavior is strongly tied to the natural topography. As Basso suggests, “when
places are actively sensed, the physical landscape becomes wedded to the landscape of
the mind” (Basso 1996:55). This “inseparability of land and thought, geography and
memory, and of place and wisdom has long been recognized by non-Indians” and has
been put to work by the Ndee (Apache) and other people who possess spirits embedded in
their place of living (Welch 2001:5).
In the Apache language, “Ni” means both land and mind (Welch and Riley
200For the archaeologist this may be difficult to comprehend, but it echoes the main
tenets of Apache social life. Recognizing the inseparability of land and mind can
highlight American Indian social processes in relation to the land in a way that
archaeology alone cannot. A simple archaeological feature such as a roasting pit can
illuminate much about the past that can contribute to an understanding of Apache social
investment in mountainous landscapes. The roasting pit might be less than ten meters in
diameter, but implies use of many acres of land for agave harvesting, and many square
miles of land in the selection of a suitable site to process it. Apache Tribal representatives
visiting such a site well over one hundred years later pointed out what the location
represented: wide views of the surrounding landscape to be able to see approaching
enemies, and multiple escape routes in case they needed to flee (Arden Comanche 2009,
personal communication). As Basso notes “Place-based thoughts about the self, lead
commonly to thoughts of other things—other places, other people, other times whole
networks of associations that ramify unaccountably within the expanding spheres of
awareness that they themselves engender” (Basso 1996:55).
These “place-based thoughts” or “biké’ goz’ᾴᾴ” (footprints) (Basso 1996:31)
represented by stories, traditions, ceremonies, prayers and songs are ingeminated through
time and are present throughout ancestral Apache homeland and defy scholarly
boundaries. “The investment of particular locations with meaning (place-making) is a
ubiquitous social and cognitive process” (Whitridge 2004:241) that is not only a sociallysymbolic way of knowing but an inherent, experienced, lived reality that transcends
space, time, the objective, and the tangible exhibiting Apache-land relations that are very
much alive and innately inseparable.
Moreover, these “footprints” are embedded in the land and mind, and underpin
the importance of the “where events” occurred through time, as opposed to the “when
events” took place in Apache worldviews and belief systems. As Basso (1996:11) points
out “what matters is what these events serve to reveal about the development and
character of Apache social life…and temporal considerations…are accorded secondary
importance.” Furthermore, as Herr (et al. 2011) indicates, “Apache do not trace their
history primarily through artifacts like the Hopi and Zuni,” rather they rely on traditions
embedded in natural geographies (Herr et al. 2011:110). This place-based way of
knowing has been put to work by Apache and continues to define contemporary Apache
society, contributes to Apache well-being, and demonstrates the intricate relationship
Apache people have with the land since time immemorial.
Beyond Basso’s (1996) discussion of Western Apache conception of “place,” are
there natural processes and lack of access to these natural processes and areas associated
with place that assist Apache people as well? What I mean by this statement is do
“natural processes” dwell and become engrained, as do topographical reminders of place?
Are these processes tools of past and contemporary use that can be viewed similarly to
how Basso (1996:60-63) describes Western Apache “stalking with stories” and “shot
with an arrow” analogies as reminding people to act properly and moral as Apache
cultural norms suggest? For example, Basso (1996) discusses stories of Apache men
leaving the reservation and forgetting how to actively sense place and being acted upon
internally to act right because of this. In discussions of the past with San Carlos Apache
collaborators, Seth Pilsk (personal communication, 2011) communicated the loss of
power due to Apache loss and restrictions to the land and natural resources:
Once confined to [the] reservation rapes and substance abuse increased, and
many of the traditional life ways were lost. There was a story a long time ago
when Apache were first put on San Carlos Reservation and Medicine men
had visions of what was to come (alcoholism, substance abuse, rape, suicide).
Loss of power after being put on established reservation boundaries and
losing access to natural world. People started forgetting how to access power.
So they began getting the power through non-traditional ways (alcohol,
drugs, rape, and suicide). The military knew where Apache people got power,
so they put them on reservations. Psychologists say the quickest way for an
individual to feel powerful or become empowered is through rape, drugs or
alcohol and this is what is happening today on reservations. Younger
generations forgot how to get power through nature, so they are finding it
through non-traditional ways.
This story alone suggests how U.S. Federal Government Apache policies
emphasizing restrictions on traditional exploitation of resources over a vast region of the
Southwest not only marginalized Apache access to traditional homelands and natural
resources, but how long-term loss of access to important areas and obtaining power
through other non-traditional sources continues to have devastating effects on Apache
culture and overall tribal well-being. Loss of power— which includes “any set of abstract
and invisible forces which were believed to derive from certain classes of animals, plants,
meteorological phenomena and mythical figures” (Basso et al. 1971:270) through
diminished access to the natural environment indicates how significant Apache ties to
place truly are and how these associations define Apache existence and are continually
being felt among contemporary tribal life. Apache rationalizations of land and power
loss, policies of extermination and forced relocation, and suffering are intricately tied to
access and associations to the natural environment that are often discussed and expressed
by Apache tribal representatives during collaborative projects and mandated federal
consultation efforts, but have been rarely addressed adequately by researchers due to a
lack of understanding, and independent non-Apache research interests and agendas. Such
environmental phenomena including natural processes as simple as the continuous flow
of springs empower Apache people by simple visitation. Moreover, as Annie Peaches and
Nick Thompson suggested to Basso (1996:61) “land occupied by Apache people—makes
the people live right” and “the land looks after us. The land keeps badness away.” These
statements indicate how land loss and restricted access to traditional Apache lands can
affect not only individuals, but the tribal community overall, similar to the San Carlos
Apache story outlined by Seth Pilsk. As Indigenous scholar Margaret Kovach (2009:37)
has suggested regarding Indigenous knowledge, “our knowledges are bound to place” and
because of this, “when considering Indigenous epistemologies, Indigenous people
contextualize to their tribal affiliation” (Kovach 2009:37). Therefore, a rational, placebased approach stressing Apache knowledge systems and concerns regarding the
interpretation of their past, present, and future is appropriate for this multi-vocal
dissertation study. The Chiricahua Mountains not only embody the traditional homeland
for various Apache groups, but the area underpins and epitomizes Apache belief-systems
and worldviews bound by the inseparability of land and mind manifested by an overall
sense of place.
Furthermore, if Indigenous knowledge is bound by place as Kovach (2009)
suggests, and as Jacoby (2008:64) indicates, “paying closer attention to Indigenous
experiences can help us unravel the conceptual confusion at the heart of the
Euroamerican concepts of extermination.” Taking this statement further and defining late
historical-period policies of “Apache extermination”—including colonial practices
associated with and resulting from U.S. extermination policy such as land use restrictions
(Seth Pilsk story), assimilation, acculturation, and ethnogenesis—suggests the
fundamental innateness of place and “Ni.” This innateness reverberates and highlights the
Apache past and social responses to increased Euroamerican interaction through
practical, moral, and simple storytelling and visitation to former homeland areas/places
where these policies were carried out and resonate within the mind/land. Moreover, as
Welch (2009:111) asserts in reference to military place making, it cut off access to many
tangible and intangible aspects of Apache culture that were necessary for continued wellbeing and maintenance of the harmonious balance of moral and social order wellexpressed in traditional cultural norms based on the land-mind-nature relationship that is
so pervasive and powerful in Apache worldviews.
American Pragmatism and Archaeology
“Pragmatism,” as a westernized theoretical tool, has its origins in the writings of
William James, Charles Sanders Peirce, Oliver Wendell Holmes, John Dewey, and
Richard Rorty. Ranging from the basic meaning of “pragmatic theory” and its
relationship to the practical, to Dewey’s practical orientation through the meaning of
experience, these philosophers’ laid the groundwork for noetic conceptual reasoning that
underpins “American pragmatism”—the idea that what counts as knowledge is
determined by its usefulness.
However, I am only utilizing the American philosophical school of pragmatism
and its varying interpretations to justify my arguments through the necessary recognition
of westernized philosophy academic researchers are required to do. Therefore, here, I
extract useful forms of pragmatism from the “broader literature” concerning pragmatism
and integrate these notions with concepts of place and cultural landscape theory to better
explain the Apache sense of Ni and ways of knowing to non-Apache researchers.
For example, Bourdieu (1977:16) has suggested “customary rules preserved by
group memory are themselves the product of a batch of schemes enabling agents to
generate an infinity of practices adapted to endlessly changing situations, without those
schemes ever being constituted as explicit principles.” This statement underscores the
essence of a pragmatic approach that exists and is highly adaptable to the ways in which
humans interact with the environment that rationally exists. Furthermore, through
Bourdieu’s notion of “habitus” and the interplay between structure and agency—similar
to the interplay between landscape and human choice—we can better understand the
ways in which Apache people interact with the Chiricahua Mountain land base. If the
basic underpinnings of habitus suggest the “endless capacity to engender products—
thoughts, perceptions, expressions, actions and conditioned or unconditioned freedom as
remote from simple mechanical reproduction of the initial conditionings” (Bourdieu
1977:95), then one can understand how Apache sense of Ni’ in Apache worldviews has
perpetually existed and is very much alive in the land base. For example, Ramon Riley’s
statement of “you just have to be an Apache to know” (personal communication, 2010)
and a statement by Silas Cochise, that “the powers that come with different ceremonies
don’t understand English” demonstrate the endless capacity to relate to an area such as
the Chiricahua Mountains through simply being Apache and expressing these
relationships through inherent perceptions, experiences, expressions and actions. What I
mean by simply being Apache in this context is inherent and through birth as an Apache
tribal member. Although, non-Apache researchers such as Basso and Goodwin have
provided significant works for better understanding of Apache culture, society and
lifeways I am stating that to various tribal members your inherent Apache identity as an
Apache may provide understandings of Apache culture and history that non-Apache
individuals could not have access to.
Bourdieu’s recognition of the adaptability of pragmatism underscores the essence
of a pragmatic approach that exists and is highly adaptable to the ways in which humans
should interact with the environment through a responsible, trustful, and respectful
mindset. It is through this view of “pragmatism” that I argue the concept can be utilized
as a useful tool to better understanding the Apache past. It is an inherent, rational, placebased way of knowing that exists free of westernized theoretical underpinnings and
overarching scientific evidence. If as Peirce suggests (1905:163), “the inseparable
connection between rational cognition and rational purpose underscore the notion that no
mind of the experimentalist type can ever make sure of solid ground under his feet” then
one can argue that scientific non-Apache views of the past are not required to understand
Apache history and culture. What is important is how Apache people define themselves
and their own relationship to the landscape, past and present.
In reference to scholarly literature directly referring to pragmatism and
archaeological research Reid and Whittlesey (1998) have pointed out the lack of
archaeological attention to American Pragmatism in the past, but are quick to note that a
“pragmatist philosophy existed in much of the work of the productive archaeologists of
the so-called “old school” (Reid and Whittlesey 1998:276-277). Reid and Whittlesey
(1998:277) go on to summarize the works of Louis Menand (1997) and Richard
Bernstein (1997) identifying “the elements of pragmatism most germane to doing the
practice of archaeology” especially Bernstein’s pragmatic ethos that includes antifoundationalism, fallibilism, pluralism, critical communities, and contingency
(Whittlesey and Reid 1998:277).
More recently, in Contemporary Archaeology in Theory: The New Pragmatism
edited by Robert Preucel and Stephen Mrozowski (2010) the authors consider
pragmatism in archaeology. They outline the genealogy of American pragmatism from
William James to Richard Rorty and the various ways scholars of “pragmatism” have
applied the concept. In reference to archaeological considerations of pragmatism the
authors begin with a theoretical discussion held in 1985 by Gaffney and Gaffney (1987a).
At the conclusion of the session a “manifesto for a pragmatic archaeology” was offered
which suggested pragmatism was useful because it denied a lone theoretical base that
could be labeled as empiricist (Yorston et al. 1987:107).
The authors (Preucel and Mrozowski 2010:31) go on to look at Preucel and
Bauer’s 2001 work Archaeological Pragmatics, which suggests archaeological
interpretation is a semiotic process and based upon the construction of “signs” and how
these signs will vary between “insiders” and “outsiders” (Baert 2005; Preucel and Bauer
2001; Saitta 2003, 2007). The authors suggest because archaeological interpretation is an
inherently “semiotic” process that all interpreters from the past and present are
continually in the process of creating signs (Preucel and Bauer 2001:85). This recognition
is useful because it demonstrates the continued evolution of thought within the discipline
of archaeology and warns that all these signs or speculations of interpretation are being
continually created and modified by many social agents inside and outside the
archaeological arena.
Preucel and Mrozowski (2010:31) then outline Dean Saitta’s (2003, 2007) works
concerning pragmatism and how a “pragmatist sensibility (Saitta 2003:11-13; Preucel and
Mrozowski 2010:31) can be used “as a way for archaeology to move beyond realism”
(Preucel and Mrozowski 2010:31) and contribute to the advancement of a critical social
archaeology (Saitta 2007:9). Saitta (2003:13) suggests this can be accomplished through
the application of three core pragmatic concepts. The first is an antifoundational or
fallibilistic notion of truth that can “move us in directions other than those stipulated by
the earliest processualist commentators on archaeology’s social relevance” (Saitta
2003:12). For this dissertation I think this notion of antifoundational truth is applicable
because one of the goals of this research is to move beyond various so-called truths
potentially exhibited by social patterns deduced from material remains as empirical
truthful data. By integrating the interpretations of Apache cultural experts The second
fundamental idea is that “these experimental truths must be evaluated against a broader
notion of experience” (Saitta 2003:12). Only through moving beyond the usual emphasis
of judging criteria through “logical coherence and correspondence between theory and
data” (Saitta 2003:12) into “something much more qualitative and humanistic” (Saitta
2003:12). This second fundamental idea is useful for this dissertation because it suggests
moving beyond theory and data into something more humanistic. Inherent Apache ability
to sense place and see meaning even where an area is devoid of material culture
demonstrates a tie to place that does not need to be tethered to specific theory. The third
core concept of pragmatism according to Saitta is “pragmatism’s notion of testing,
specifically as it relates to the evaluation of truth-claims borne of different cultural
traditions” (Saitta 2003:13). Saitta reasons that only through the utilization of testing as
“a matter of interweaving and continually reweaving webs of belief” (2003:13) that “the
loyalty of pragmatism to human beings struggling to cope rather than to the realist hope
of getting things right” (Saitta 2013:13) can be achieved. Saitta’s third concept is useful
to this dissertation because it stresses the integration of knowledge through constant
interweaving. For the archaeologist, constantly looking at different views of the past
through other vehicles than material will allow critical reflection to occur and possibly
understand what is really need to assist contemporary American Indian communities.
Saitta’s (2003:12-13) recognition of the three core concepts of pragmatism are
useful for archaeology because of its increased emphasis on a more humanistic
archaeology in reference to underrepresented communities. Because, as Saitta suggests
“pragmatism emphasizes ways of living instead of rules for knowing” (Saitta 2003:15)
forming understandings of contemporary tribal life through long term “lived” experiences
with American Indian communities is essential. Moreover, through lived experience with
tribal communities and constantly critically reflecting on their own work archaeologists
can potentially assist American Indian communities with problems and issues of the past
that bear directly to present day tribal life.
Preucel and Mrozowski (2010:32-33) then review a contribution by Patrick Baert
(2005:160), who suggests that the essence of pragmatism can be closely traced and
aligned with the postprocessual movement in U.S. archaeology. Because
postprocessualists attributed meaning to cultural systems through social agency, Baert
(2005:161) indicates that method of inquiry may alter the present constellation of
meanings and lead to a more reflexive approach. Heritage studies (2005:161) have had an
influence because, as Pruecel and Mrozowski point out, “archaeologists are now paying
more attention to how power struggles in the present incorporate claims about the past”
(2010:32). This recognition is important to Indigenous archaeology and collaborative
research projects with American Indian communities. Ultimately, if as Baert (2005:162)
indicates, postprocessual archaeologists today should be “more interested in the societal
than at the disciplinary level,” then what truly is important is how to address various
community-societal American Indian concerns about various issues that continue to have
irrevocable and devastating adverse effects on tribal life-ways.
In reference to this dissertation, Baert’s (2005:160-163) reasoning that
pragmatism should lead to social action is important. Within the Apache communities I
have worked with “social action” needs to be conducted by not only tribal members but
by non-Apache researchers as well. Only through social action will the problems and
sociocultural effects brought on by archaeologists and other researchers be potentially
ameliorated. Moreover, Baert’s (2005:163) statement that “Knowledge is no longer
conceived as something passive, but it is more like an action; it affects things”
contributes to archaeology in general and this dissertation. This is because Apache tribal
cultural knowledge and the goals of archaeological research may be incommensurate, and
does not produce fruitful knowledge or may even be harmful to descendant and tribal
communities. Moreover, tribal concerns and values (knowledge) that are adamantly
stated by Apache cultural experts are not always used to maximize benefits for Apache
Recognitions by Saitta (2003 and 2007) and Baert (2005) are useful for
contemporary archaeological research in collaboration with American Indian
communities because they embrace the diversity of perspectives in social science
research and demonstrate that researchers do not always need to embrace overarching
approaches, including those of foundationalism or rigorous testing according to some
perceived empirical reality. As Preucel and Mrozowski (2010:33) suggest, as
archaeologists we can use and “place our cartographies of the past in the service of the
needs of the present.” By doing this, archaeologists can critically contemplate their own
research agendas, identify the best ways to address contemporary problems and concerns
of American Indian communities, and then address them through action.
Other works in reference to pragmatism and archaeology include McDavid
(2002:303), who has suggested that pragmatism emphasizes the notion of truth as created
(not discovered) and has examined ways in which a pragmatic philosophical framework
has given archaeologists new ways of approaching and “conversing” about their data.
This has led to new ways of dealing, openly and non-hierarchically, with communities
most affected by their research. Similarly, Foucault’s “Archaeology of Knowledge,”
recognizes the power in creating truth rather than truth being discovered through
empirical evidence and scientific methodology. By using archaeology as a metaphor
Foucault recognizes that we have to examine what we refer to a science, and how
“scientific facts” were produced the way they were.. For example, Foucault (1972:179)
despite the absence of any established discipline, a discursive practice, with its own
regularity and consistency, was in operation. This discursive practice was certainly
present in medicine, but it was also to be found in administrative regulations, in
literary or philosophical texts, in casuistics, in the theories or projects of obligatory
labour or assistance to the poor. In the Classical period, therefore, there were a
discursive formation and a positivity perfectly accessible description, to which
correspond no definite discipline that could be compared with psychiatry.
Here, Foucault’s quote suggesting practices existing with regularity and
consistency in various contexts (medicine and philosophy) suggests that in certain areas
such as Apache place-based knowledge systems, operational and consistent systems have
always been present, despite being perceived as definite or empirical by non-Apache
individuals. Foucault’s reasoning could be tied to Apache sense of Ni’ and pragmatics
because Apache understandings of the past and present in reference to Ni’ are similar to
Foucault’s “discursive formations” and not “definite disciplines” established by science.
They exist despite empirical reasoning and are present in other ways and forms and not
defined as or by definite disciplines. For example, if as Lippert (2006:436) suggests,
“When Indigenous communities begin to engage with objects created by their ancestors,
they form a link that generally exists outside the scholarly realm” then, (along with
Foucault’s reasoning), we can see how Apache inherent practical reasoning and inherent
sense of Ni can bring to life a plethora of lived experiences, associations and
contemporary issues that exist despite “definite defined disciplines” and categorizations
that I will discuss in the Place and Material as Social Investment section of this chapter.
Further expansion upon Reid and Whittlesey’s (1998:281) position that
“pragmatism appears to be easily assimilated and applied…it does not seem to require
formal academic training in a particular mode of thought or discourse,” suggests the
necessity of thought processes that do not necessarily require academically charged
rational for ways of thinking and existing. Apache people have recognized this since time
immemorial. In my dissertation research and professional experience I have heard many
times American Indian representatives constantly stressing that the traditional knowledge
systems recalled by tribal cultural experts “need” to be taken as equal to the knowledge
systems of non-tribal members holding advanced degrees. The knowledge and
understanding of the world cultural experts hold is equivalent to the years of training and
experience of academic scholars. This recognition reaches the foundation of
pragmatism’s inherent nature that does not require a westernized notion of advanced
education, but tribally derived ways of knowing that exist without reference to formal
academic theoretical discourse or frameworks.
This is not to say that some forms of practical reasoning learned and experienced
by tribal cultural experts and academic scholars does not take years of training, but some
forms of Apache belief systems and worldviews just exist and are called upon,
experienced, rationalized, and legitimized by Apache people since time immemorial and
through many generations. It is especially the case in reference to “place,” due to the
understanding that places are alive, imbued with spirit, and are our teachers (Kovach
2009:61). Kovach’s (2009:56) statement that “tribal knowledge is pragmatic and
ceremonial, physical and metaphysical,” recognizes the sophistication of complex tribal
cultural practices that are derived from both the ordinary and extraordinary. She further
suggests that although tribal knowledge is obtained, exists, and is learned through various
tribal practices and personal experiences at various times, knowledge can also be rational
and pragmatic (Kovach 2009:56).
Cultural Landscapes
Stoffle and Zedeño (2001:140-141) wrote “the concept of cultural landscape
derives from the notion that people, through repeated interactions with the their
surroundings, develop an image or cognition of the land they hold and a shared
understanding of its form and content…cognition of the land and interactions that
structure it are shared among them and transferred over generations.” This recognition
suggests that the application of a landscape approach to the study of Apache occupation
of the Chiricahua Mountain area is essential due to the fact that the common use of the
“landscape” concept is to describe an activity or territory, or group of landforms
connected by some common characteristic. The human-land interaction experienced by
Apache groups—the interconnectedness of everything including places, plants, springs,
viewscapes, experience, prayer, and animals resonates from the Chiricahua Mountain
land base and is intrinsic to Apache ways of knowing and belief-systems. Moreover, the
application of a landscape approach to the study of the ancestral Apache landscape
provides, as Welch and Ferguson (2005:100) suggest, “a flexible, powerful, and practical
framework for identifying, understanding, representing and re-establishing connections
among communities, cultural resources and resource stewardship.” Due to inter-Apache
associations to cultural heritage resources present within the Chiricahua Mountain project
area the landscape approach provides windows into various Apachean community
interests, values, and perspectives in reference to the land base, the Apache past, and the
However, because landscape is such a broad term encompassing diverse
connections it is important to briefly discuss various ways archaeologists have defined
and utilized the concept, and how the term “cultural landscape” usefully coheres to the
Apache concept of “place,” and how these pragmatic ways of knowing are so useful in
forming a better understanding of the Apache past.
Brief Overview of Landscape Theory and “Cultural Landscape”
Although the term “landscape archaeology” does not have a particularly long
history (David and Thomas 2008:27), the concept “landscape theory,” has its basic
foundations in cultural geography. Researchers such as Sauer (1925) formulized the
concept of a cultural landscape as fashioned from a natural landscape. This “cultural
landscape” approach as Whittlesey notes, has reemerged, particularly in the realm of
post-processual archaeology (Whittlesey 2004:181). These theoretical interpretations of
archaeological landscape suggest that the landscape is active and is produced by the
peoples within it. For example, Bender’s (1993) work incorporates the study of
landscapes through contributions from archaeologists, geographers, and anthropologists,
who view landscapes from a “subjective, locally situated perspective, that something that
not only shapes but is shaped by human experience” (Knapp and Ashmore 1999:4).
Moreover, Tilley’s (1994) work suggests that the landscape is a locus of action and
involvement between humans and the environment. Tilley’s focus on monuments which
form a landscape of experience attempted to move on from ephemeral traces of past
human activity to that of landmarks associated with meaning. Ingold’s (1993) discussion
of the territorial landscape suggests the usefulness of landscape archaeology from a
“dwelling” perspective. Because, as Ingold suggests, the dwelling is fundamentally
temporal, “the apprehension of the landscape in the dwelling perspective must begin from
a recognition of its temporality” (Ingold 1993:172). Despite numerous perceptions of the
“landscape” concept, I agree with Anschuetz, Wilshusen, and Scheick’s (2001:164)
assertion that a landscape approach helps contribute to the building of fuller
understandings of relationships among varied spatial, temporal, ecological, and cognitive
contexts in which people interact with their environment.
The resurgence of the cultural landscape in post-processual archaeology
understood landscape as a product of society and various social factors, including the
structure and norms inscribed upon it. Archaeologists have also recognized that
landscapes are constantly produced through various mechanisms—including changes in
society, shifts in power dynamics, and worldview—which affect how the landscape is
used, conceptualized, and given meaning. This plays out for the archaeologist through the
association of materials of the past with cultural landscapes to suggest various models of
human interaction with the land.
Cultural Landscapes: Ethnography, Collaboration and Landscape Archaeology
Archaeologists have argued that such material correlates as built environments
and landmarks contribute to better understandings of past human behavior (Anschuetz et
al. 2001; Knapp and Ashmore 1999, 2000; Stoffle et al. 2001; Whittlesey 1997; Zedeño
et al. 1997). However, in order to connect archaeology to previously discussed theoretical
frameworks, the archaeologist has to look at American Indian perceptions of the past.
Through such vehicles as consultation, collaboration, ethnography, stories, and songs the
archaeologist can get beyond the spatial patterns of the past to look at the social processes
that underlie them.
Potter (2004) indicates that because “landscapes are constantly in a process of
creation by human activity, they are temporal because humans constantly produce the
landscape; they create themselves as cultural subjects of that landscape” (2004:322).
Potter suggests that two other elements besides time (temporal) from the cultural
landscape—place and landscape as experience—are useful and powerful concepts for
archaeology. Potter’s recognition of landscape as experience, in which “movement
through place creates and facilitates the accumulation of meaningful experience,
associations, histories, which can become embodied memory, that is, social memory
experienced at the level of the individual body and the social (village) body” (Potter
2004:323) indicates how the study of ethnography can be used to better understand social
processes through experience. He uses rock art created images related to legends, which
he argues produce and reaffirm locations as places of significance.
Research by Carroll, Zedeño, and Stoffle (2004:127) pertaining to the nineteenth
century Ghost Dance highlights the social processes stemming from ethnographic
research indicating the study of “ritual behavior could be greatly enhanced by combining
parameters of place and landscape use with interpretation of material culture.”
Ethnographic research concerning the Ghost Dance performance enhanced understanding
of dance performance locations, the types of dances that would be performed, access, and
dancer needs to reconnect to ancient rituals (Carroll, Zedeño, and Stoffle 2004:141).
Stoffle, Halmo, and Austin’s (1997) explanation of the cultural landscape and
how it more accurately reflects how American Indian people organize cultural resources
and why this concept is useful for land managers demonstrates the usefulness of
consultation when interpreting the landscape. In a similar vein, Whittlesey’s (2004)
definition of a cultural landscape as a “cognized environment that has been created by
cultural perceptions” further contributes to a landscape archaeology by recognizing how
Native American perspectives are readily incorporated into landscape studies (Whittlesey
More recent research involving various tribal groups in the San Pedro River
Valley (Ferguson and Chanthaphonh 2006) also involves landscape theory. Working with
different tribal groups having ancestral and contemporary ties to the river valley, the
collaborative research project illustrated how “the archaeological landscape is part of an
ongoing cultural dynamic, a field of meanings that allows descendant communities to
understand their past and who they are today” (Ferguson and Chanthaphonh 2006:243).
Ferguson and Chanthaphonh recognize that archaeologists should seek to identify the
social and cultural processes implicated in tribal narratives about the past (2006:247).
Linked to these social and cultural processes are stories, songs, rituals, names, and
objects that can be recalled by descendants that can highlight understandings of the past
that archaeology alone cannot reach.
In this sense, the term “landscape” is useful, because through increased
collaboration and ethnographic research archaeologists can work collectively with
American Indian entities to form new methodologies and interpretations, which allows
researchers to move beyond the limits of archaeological knowledge underpinned by a
Western worldview (Nicholas 2006). As Nicholas (2006) points out, if archaeologists
continue to pay closer attention to traditional knowledge, this offers alternative
explanations or greater awareness of non-Western ways of thinking about the landscape,
that can lead to “the development of a more meaningful and representative archaeology”
(Nicholas 2006:350). (Nicholas 2006:371). Furthermore, as Basso (1996:76) suggests, in
Western Apache views, knowledge is useful because it can be expeditiously recalled and
used practically, Apache memory in the form of “history and events, of persons and
social activities, of oneself and the stages of one’s life” (Basso 1996:76) can highlight the
practical inseparability of the land and mind that cross-cuts temporal and spatial western
ways of thinking.
Basso’s recognition is brought to life in a statement by White Mountain Apache
tribal collaborator Ramon Riley’s statement that “you just have to be an Apache to know”
(personal communication, 2010). This powerful statement echoes the main tenets of
Apache belief-systems and worldviews. It reaches the very core of Apache concepts of
experiencing, living, and knowing place and the intricate ties of the landscape that is
necessary to understand the Apache past through pragmatic and humanistic recognitions.
For a non-Apache person this statement might be hard to accept, and in the academic
world, would most likely be subject to criticism, and even worse the all too familiar and
often perpetuated categorization of the statement as “myth,” or as “false” due to the
continued westernized colonial mindset that non-Natives know what is best for American
Here, because of this, I highlight Bourdieu’s (1977) concept of “embodiment”
from his notion of practice theory to bolster my argument as well as Riley’s statement.
Again, I am not trying to support a Bourdieuian theoretical paradigm, or trying to link
Apache practical ways of reasoning with logical and practical reasoning from the
foundations of anthropological and sociological discourse, rather I am using Bourdieu’s
recognitions to try and demonstrate my point by connecting to a broader literature that
non-Apache will better understand and be familiar with. For example, various types of
practical reasoning apparent in everyday lived experiences of Apache people are linked to
the reasoning of embodiment, because “embodiment in the privileged locus of the space
of the house and the earliest learning processes” (Bourdieu 1977:90) are linked and
“make the space within which they are enacted as much as they are made by it”
(Bourdieu 1977:90). In this sense, the practical reasoning associated with the landscape
and cultural norms with Apache communities are inextricably linked and cannot be
defined or explained separately. Moreover, because as Bourdieu (1977:113) suggests an
agent “only needs to possess, in their practical state, a set of schemes functioning in their
implicit state and in the absence of any precise delimitation of universe of discourse”
Apache relationships to the land wedded to the mind define what is important to their
own communities beyond archaeological assistance or reasoning.
For example, because Apache inherent and learned systems of knowing are often
defined by a particular place, which is inseparably linked to the mind (the Apache sense
of Ni), Apache people can freely function in a practical state of mind as Riley suggests.
Without archaeological restrictions in the form of theory, diagnostic artifacts and feature
check-lists, or speculative assertions one can begin to unpack the social investment
processes Apache imbue, or more importantly the landscape imbues in them, that go
beyond material restrictions imposed by archaeology. In the following section, I will
discuss how some of these social investment strategies were highlighted during my
dissertation field research with Apache collaborators through practical reasoning in
reference to place that can assist archaeologists to form better understandings of Apache
landscape occupations
Place and Material as Social Investment
I have outlined a theoretical approach based upon the Apache concepts of “Ni”
and “place” which highlights how better understandings of the Apache past in reference
to Apache concerns and values can be addressed through a pragmatic orientation. Here, I
will discuss how simple site visitation can teach us much about Apache social processes,
intergenerational commitments and assist with contemporary resource management
Research Questions: Apache Pragmatism and Social Investment
Beyond material remains and their interpretation through a collaborative
integrative framework I wanted to know how Apache communities are tied to the
Chiricahua Mountains in ways beyond recognizing and interpreting material remains. As
a result of these recognitions I found it necessary to look at questions regarding the
practical reasoning associated with social investment of the Apache past still very much
alive and present on the Chiricahua land base. Although initial site visitations were
conducted to better understand Apache material remains this section of the dissertation is
guided by the following research questions:
(1) How are Apache communities still associated to the land base after
approximately 126 years of physical exile?
(2) What beyond physical archaeological remains can be used to better
identify past Apache associations to the land base and contemporary
Apache social processes and intergenerational commitments?
These questions developed during and after site visitations with Apache cultural
experts and U.S. Forest Service personnel. To me, these questions better address the
needs and concerns of contemporary Apache communities and can help archaeologists
not only to better manage the land base, but to creatively develop research questions and
goals that focuses on modern day Apache issues including cultural maintenance, cultural
affiliation and resource management.
It is well-known that the highly-mobile Apache life-style, which focused on
seasonal shifts involving hunting, raiding, and agriculture, has contributed to the subtle
nature of archaeological remains indicative of Apache landscape occupation. But how
can the subtle nature of Apache material remains highlight social processes relating to
Apache investment in living in high altitude mountainous areas? As noted earlier, by
actively sensing historical-period Apache areas of occupation visible in various material
traces such as bullet shell tweezers, metal points, tinklers/jingles, corn beer
(tulapai/tiswin) strainers, rock rings, fortified sites, caching features, and roasting pits,
Apache understandings and perspectives concerning their former homeland can be
highlighted to demonstrate how past social investment processes, intergenerational
commitments and management practices are very much embedded in the land base
(place), and brought to life by the experience of simple visitation.
In reference to the initial research questions of this chapter, particularly Apache
ties to the land base and commitment to resource management site visitation brought to
life ways in which a researcher or land manager might better address how to manage the
Chiricahua Mountain land base. For example, while visiting a fortified dry-stacked
masonry site overlooking the San Simon Valley a Mescalero representative asked what
kind of artifacts were located within the compound (Figures 7.1 and 7.2). A few crude
chipped-stone flakes were located but most material was located outside the walls on a
small saddle. She then indicated that at most wickiup sites she has visited on the
Mescalero reservation all artifacts were also found outside the wickiup structure.
Although there are several explanations for the absence of artifacts (buried over time
etc.), the statement suggests social investment strategies and resource management
commitment in reference to space and landscape modification. Even high altitude sites
taking much more labor to construct then wickiup sites had most activities occurring
outside the structure walls. Moreover, it contributes to contemporary social and cultural
understandings of the past in reference to Apache people intentionally “cleaning up” after
themselves. Practical maintenance of the area in the form of activities occurring outside
the wickiup area suggest the need for land managers to re-investigate potential Apache
site areas that may exhibit only subtle, if any remains. These “places” do not only provide
glimpses into the Apache past and contemporary Apache cultural heritage resource
management strategies, but how cultural practices and the social investments in reference
to practical reasoning underscoring these practices are maintained over time and are very
much alive. For example, when asked about historical-period site placement strategies
and what are better ways to identify Apache sites on the landscape, Mescalero
representatives indicated that because past Apache groups were so “neat” in reference to
leaving no trace on the landscape, things get misinterpreted. A Mescalero representative
then discussed an area off but near the reservation that was called “Yellow Ground” that
got misinterpreted today.
Figure 7.1 Apache representatives Mark Altaha and Mae Burnette at
Fortified site AR03-05-01-460 in Jack Wood Canyon. Photograph by Nicholas
Laluk. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Figure 7.2. Sketch of fortified site AR03-05-01-460 located in Jack Wood
Canyon area. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
as “Yellow Soil.” The site could not be relocated because it was visited in the wrong
season and folks were looking for “Yellow Soil.” The Mescalero representative indicated
that when you visit the area in a certain season yellow flowers bloom and this makes the
ground appear yellow. In the past Mescalero folks used to travel over the “yellow
ground.” Cultural maintenance apparent in the “Yellow Ground” story is indicative of
social investment and how place is tied to the past that suggests Apache seasonal
movements, resource procurement strategies and continuity of the past through placebased and practical knowledge (Figure 7.3). Here social strategies and links to the land
base are not only materialized on the landscape through manufactured material traces, but
through memory and practice as well. Apache ties to the land base are not defined or
underpinned by material remains, but is manifest in the fact that the land ethic, cultural
values, power, knowledge of traditional food and plant areas, and religion have been
retained in spite of persecution or at imposed assimilation, acculturation practices, and
contemporary misinterpretation of Apache culture.
Figure 7.3. Area covered with yellow flowers similar to story discussed by
Mescalero representatives. Photograph by Nicholas Laluk in 2009. On file,
Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Moreover, the practical, inherent Apache association and inseparability of
traditional knowledge to the landscape comes to life during simple site/place visitation
that leads to a more complete view of various environments and ecosystems. The
integration of traditional knowledge (Ni) manifests itself in basic and diverse ways of
looking at the landscape that contribute to ways of defining “site” boundaries and ways of
conducting archaeological pedestrian surveys. For example, on a field visit to the
previously mentioned fortified site, Mescalero Apache cultural expert Arden Comanche
was observing a roasting pit below and looked up and said, “I’m going up to that saddle,
because if I were hanging out at this site, I’d also be hanging out up there.” Furthermore,
during a visit to a roasting pit site further up the canyon in the same area, while some
forest service representatives were examining the ground area on and near the roasting pit
site for other material evidence associated with the roasting pit Mr. Comanche was
examining a nearby oak tree (Figure 7.4). Mr. Comanche suggested the tree was modified
in way that the Apache individuals were cutting the lower branches and using the higher
branches as shelter underneath the tree. This statement by Mr. Comanche intrigued me
because he had previously indicated a similar practice during visits to a possible Apache
scout camp in the Rucker Canyon area. Mr. Comanche had suggested that near Fort Bliss,
New Mexico, there is an oak tree with branches bent over to make a house (Arden
Comanche, personal communication 2009). Although these recognitions may not be
enough to meet an arbitrary “archaeological site” definition, they definitely are enough to
verify an Apache view about the site by simple visitation and the inherent ability to
recognize distinct and important landscape alterations that archaeologists may have
missed. Furthermore, Mr. Comanche’s identification of the practice of utilizing low-lying
branches for expedient shelter demonstrates Apache cultural affiliation and modification
of the land base extending from the Chiricahua Mountainscape to the Fort Bliss area in
New Mexico. This recognition contributes to the both research questions because, (1) it
demonstrates an unbroken link of affiliation to the Chiricahua Mountains even after 126
years of physical exile, and Apache landscape modification and the regional link of this
activity across time (approximately 126 years) and space (regionally from southeast
Arizona to central New Mexico); (2) the natural landscape suggests Apache presence
even when devoid of archaeologically defined material remains, which demonstrates
Apache associations even when an area is devoid of cultural materials.
Figure 7.4. William Gillespie and Arden Comanche examining oak tree and
roasting pit site AR03-05-01-275 in 2009. Photo by Nicholas Laluk. On file,
Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s Office, Tucson, AZ.
Place and associated power relations are also manifest in the broader mountain
land base overshadowing the material remains of the past but can be emphasized through
visits to these areas. As Silliman (2009:217) suggests, “Materialized on this landscape are
cultural sites that accentuate that materiality, memory, and practice can better reveal
colonial processes and indigenous survivals.” For example, during the research project
Silas Cochise—the great grandson of Chiricahua Chokonen band Chief Cochise—
(personal communication, 2009) indicated that ceremonies, songs, and power are related
to distinct mountain areas and that, “the powers that come with different ceremonies
don’t understand English” (Figure 7.5). This statement alone reaches the foundation of
Apache social processes and the concepts of memory and place and how they are
intricately tied together. As Basso suggests, these “expressive elements”—ceremonies,
songs, and stories with associated relation—continue to give Apache places their
meanings and “are continually woven into the fabric of social life” (Basso 1996:57).
Moreover, Kovach’s (2009:61) suggestion that “linguistic structures associated with
tribal languages and the deep interconnection between thought and language cannot be
extrapolated from other attributes” supports the notion of inseparability of land and mind,
and the overall difficulty of integrating tribal perspectives into westernized ways of
knowing and non-native research goals and interests. Moreover, the words of Mr.
Cochise suggest a continued connection the land base that can only be felt, experienced
and identified through the Chiricahua Apache language itself. This deep connection
between language and the land is still apparent in the words of Mr. Cochise nearly 126
years after removal.
Figure 7.5. Silas Cochise. On file, Coronado National Forest Supervisor’s
Office, Tucson, AZ.
Here, as archaeologists, we can begin to understand and have access to how
Apaches view the landscape. What we archaeologists see as a feature such as a roasting
pit with distinct functional characteristics associated with subsistence strategies, Apache
representatives see as relating to the broader functioning world including seasonality, site
placement, and Apache cultural distinction. We emphasize the material nature of Apache
sites and create diagnostic check-lists to suggest their presence, but while we focus on
metal projectile points or wickiup remains, Apache cultural experts are thinking of their
ancestors’ social responses to increased Euroamerican presence in their territory as well
as the landscape-wide social processes signaled by material remains including fortified
sites and wickiup locations. Therefore, to reach a more complete understanding of the
past, we need to understand contemporary tribal social investment strategies, and how to
meaningfully address Apache concerns and perspectives in association to these strategies
and the natural and modified landscape. These strategies involve a plethora of everyday
practices, from food processing to tool making to campsite selection. In reference to
Apache archaeology, the absence of material remains can tell us just as much about social
investment and Apache relationship to place as the presence of material remains. Because
some areas such as the Chiricahua Mountains embody such power and significance, this
provides meaning, and provides glimpses into past and contemporary social processes
even when such areas are devoid of material traces.
Furthermore, the Apache social process embedded in the landscape and that
comes to life through such things as traditions and stories present the need for
collaborative projects to be conducted that stress mutually beneficial, respectful, and
responsible collaborative research frameworks. From this, better understanding of past
and present social interactions, landscape associations and past theoretical models can be
expanded upon to demonstrate not only how Indigenous people rationalize and legitimize
their life but how these intricate rationalizations for personal and social identities can be
used to co-manage ancestral lands and to expand upon colonial models of Indigenous
peoples and Euroamerican interactions.
Although material remains are “subtle at best” the depth and social significance of
the Chiricahua Mountains in reference to Apache “use” is still evident, and is still very
clear even after more than a century of physical exile. Apachean social investments and
intergenerational commitments are being maintained by the existence of place and its
association to memories, stories, and ceremonies that define the social and behavioral
existence of Apache people. A simple visit to these places not only illuminates and
contributes to understandings of the past but contemporary social well-being and
necessary investments to maintain Apache culture. Undoubtedly, material remains and
features composing Apache sites show where various social activities of the past may
have occurred, but more lines of evidence are needed to understand how Apache people
define the landscape and more importantly how the landscape defines them. These
material elements composing Apache sites are shadowed by the importance of the land
base or “place” (the Chiricahua Mountains) where they were produced on the landscape.
Beyond the material remains of these Apache groups there are other explanations found
and still very much alive in Apache landscape associations, stories, and continued power
relations that can be highlighted through a basic pragmatic understanding and Apache
sense of Ni.
“For the Indigenous researcher coyote medicine lurks in the air as we strive to
incorporate methods, arrive at meaning, and present research in a manner that is
congruent with Indigenous epistemologies and understood by the non-Indigenous
(Margaret Kovach 2009:122)
Although I have outlined ways in which the Apache past and present can be better
understood through a pragmatic way of knowing underpinned by a sense of place and
brought to life through the Apache notion of Ni and visits to various places within the
Chiricahua Mountains I think that these concepts can be practically applied and utilized
to better assist researchers working with American Indian communities and through the
more effective application of American Indian communities recognitions and needs.
In this chapter I discuss the importance of effectively utilizing project related data
and knowledge learned from collaborative contexts rather than attempting to apply
unnecessary theoretical frameworks or speculations. I summarize recent research by
Atalay (2012) and Hart’s (2009) that gets us closer to an archaeology that maximizes
benefits to tribal communities, but warn that there are ongoing cultural gaps that are
difficult to navigate. I then discuss the concept of pragmatism as a potential useful tool to
bridge the gap between theory and what is important to contemporary Apache
communities, utilizing Apache cultural tenets of (1) Avoidance and (2) Respect as
directional tools for better collaborative work with Apache communities. Finally, I
discuss various issues including minimal time dedication and maximizing benefits for
American Indian communities as ongoing problems of collaborative research contexts.
Importance v. Methods
As an American Indian archaeologist I have often struggled with interpretation of
the past. Not only the attempt to understand the past through lenses of westernized
thinking and understanding, but with such issues questioning these understandings and
interpretations of the past such as: As archaeologists, is our research relevant, meaningful
and beneficial to descendent communities we are studying? Are Indigenous
methodologies more considerate, ethical, and respectful of descendent populations? How
do Apache beliefs and interests affect my own research? As an Apache, why do I have to
utilize material remains to explain my people’s past when tradition tells us to avoid such
things? A recent chapter by Kent Lightfoot (2008) in Collaborating at the Trowels Edge:
Teaching and Learning Indigenous Archaeology delineates the need for a more
“inclusive” collaborative North America archaeology embracing a “coordinated program
of research that involves the participation of tribal scholars and elders in all components
of the archaeological endeavor” (Lightfoot 2008:213), including rethinking research
designs, low-impact archaeology, incorporation of Native oral narratives into
collaborative projects, and the integration of multiple sources of information. Although
Lightfoot’s assertion of the overarching need for a coordinated program of research is
crucial to the contemporary and future practice of collaborative archaeology, from my
own research experience, I reason that Indigenous scholar’s struggles and attempts to
perform relevant, meaningful, and beneficial research for descendent communities is still
very much evolving, challenging, and unrelentingly demanding than construction of a
collective coordinated program of collaborative research.
Atalay’s (2012) recent work focusing on “Community-Based Participatory
Research” (CBPR) delineates various models for collaborative research and is useful for
researchers doing collaborative research with American Indian communities and
negotiating the continued evolution and challenging nature of such research. According
to Atalay (2012:23-24) the goal of CBPR research within archaeological contexts is to
build capacity through mutually beneficial research where “archaeologists and
community members who engage in research partnerships will develop protocols,
practices and strategies that best fit their local context.”
For example, her repatriation research with the Chippewa Indian Tribes Ziibiwing
Center highlights various in ways in which “taking action” has provided beneficial
outcomes for the Chippewa Community. The permanent museum exhibit -- Diba
Jimooyoung: Telling Our Story links repatriation activities with broader American Indian
issues including decolonization and self-determination (Atalay 2012:241). By presenting
the community members involved in the work of reburial and repatriation as warriors the
Anishinabe reburial project is critical to contemporary Indigenous archaeological
practices associated with repatriation because it contributes to contemporary American
Indian human rights and larger issues of decolonization and tribal self-determination
(Atalay 2012:241). Atalay’s (2012) well thought out contribution highlights various ways
in which the collaborative process can be mutually beneficial and address areas important
to Indigenous communities in various contexts though a democratic approach to research
processes and overall knowledge production.
Similar to Atalay’s (2012) recent contribution Hart’s (2009) dissertation work has
examined the archaeology of Pocumtuck Fort in Massachusetts using what she terms as a
“polycommunal approach” as an alternative to community-based archaeology. According
to Hart (2009:92) the polycommunal alternative is an archaeology that “engages multiple
stakeholders who have different levels of interest, commitment and resources to
contribute to the project throughout the entire research process.” Moreover, Hart utilizes
Tuhiwai-Smith’s (1999:126) recognition that “individuals may be members of multiple
communities, and sensitivity to these “nested identities” and how they impact
relationships and inform decisions is crucial.” This approach can be usefully aligned with
the goals of this dissertation because it serves not only as a “decolonizing methodology”
with critical focus on the de-marginalization, fragmentation, and shifting nature of
underrepresented communities but the fact that for research projects to be truly
“multivocal” project goals have to move beyond multivocality in solely the interpretive
component of the research project.
Despite Atalay (2012) and Hart’s (2009) recent contributions, and although many
researchers think about and recognize the need to be “reflexive” and question their own
understandings, belief-systems, and research agendas before, or while applying them to
collaborative projects with descendant communities, there continues to be a cultural
barrier or a gap in understanding that is very difficult and almost impossible to fill. What
I mean by this statement is not only what Hunter (2008:165) has recognized as a
problem—“simply a lack of knowledge about Indian people, specific tribal traditions, and
specific tribal histories” but as Stoffle and Zedeño (2001:139) point out in reference to
American Indian recognitions that “everything is connected,” that “even though this
statement has been expressed many times, it has largely remained at the general
epistemological level, ironically not articulated with the real world it describes. While the
observation of total interconnection has been recognized as true, it has been too general
to be practical in local cultural assessments.” However, as archaeologists can we ever
experience and effectively utilize this interconnectedness to better assist tribal entities
with cultural heritage resource protection, preservation, and mitigation that will not only
hopefully lead to mutually-beneficial better understandings of the past and present but
better future relationships as well?
The concept of “place” and cultural landscape theory that I have previously
discussed appear to be essential and intrinsic to my dissertation research, particularly
because how Apache people’s worldviews and belief-systems are literally “grounded”
(Mills et al. 2008:27) in the land and associated environment. Beyond these
understandings of place and theoretical landscape studies, however, are we asking the
right questions and using the right theoretical tools to understand what is truly important
to Indigenous communities? Often times, as archaeologists, our own research agendas
outweigh and supersede the wants and needs of Indigenous communities. Of course,
recent federal legal mandates including 1992 amendments to the National Historic
Preservation Act (NHPA), the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act
(NAGPRA), Executive Orders 13007 Sacred Sites, and 13175 Coordination and
Consultation with Native American Tribes have helped increase American Indian
involvement in the interpretation of the past and issues involving heritage
preservation/interpretation, but how do our anthropological theoretical tools appropriately
address what is really important to Apache people? Throughout my ethnographic
interview process and dissertation fieldwork, and during consultation meetings, various
themes were often echoed and vehemently emphasized by Apache tribal representatives
that were extremely important to Apache people. These perceptions and concepts range
from protection and respect for the natural environment—springs, gathering areas, and
medicinal plants—to stewardship, language preservation/loss, youth/future generations,
suicide, technological advances, substance abuse, and ancestors were frequently brought
up during interview experiences and discussions. As a result, I contemplated my
obligation to my Apache people and the archaeological community to apply a more
rational and balanced concept that could be effectively integrated with place and cultural
landscape studies to address these issues.
Pragmatism: A Useful Theoretical Approach
Initially, my ethnographic work involved basic questionnaires addressing
concerns and problems about the past archaeologists have had regarding the issue of
“Apache archaeology.” Ranging from basic identification of Apache material signatures
on the landscape to problems establishing accurate chronological and temporal contexts
for Apache arrival and occupations in the U.S. Southwest I hoped to develop and
eventually provide a better understanding of the Apache past through collaborative
research with descendant Apache communities. By asking questions concerning Apache
material culture items and taking Apache collaborators to areas of probable late
historical-period Apache sites I hoped to generate a list of material traits conducive to
recognizing Apache surface occupations and better understand how these items were
utilized and even modified for Apache use during periods of increased Euroamerican
interaction. However, throughout the entirety of my fieldwork I found the direction of my
dissertation research goals evolving and shifting into broader questions we, as
archaeologists, should be asking and reflecting upon.
For example, if we consider the gap between what issues and concerns
archaeologists ponder (the questions we customarily ask and seek to answer) and what
issues and concerns descendant communities face and ponder, do we archaeologists (or
others having land management duties) develop the facts necessary to address
descendants' concerns? If not, why not? Should we? If so, how should we do it? These
questions are of particular interest to my own dissertation research given my role as an
American Indian archaeologist employed by a Federal land managing entity. However, as
my research interests/questions continued to evolve, additional contemplation regarding
the application of appropriate theoretical framework(s) that could be usefully
incorporated into my shifting research goals became an issue. Yet, during this time of
consideration and struggle I found myself going back to discussions with Mescalero tribal
cultural experts. Through the duration of our enlightening conversations I often spoke of
my troubles with finding appropriate theory that could usefully comport with Apache
understandings of the past. Often, in response to my predicament, tribal reactions
questioned why there is a need for theory and why couldn’t I just write what people told
me about? After much thought regarding how to address this statement I began to
question how I could make my research more practical to tribal concerns and began to
ask: “what is theory?” and perhaps more importantly why it is necessary for my own
If a simple definition of theory is what archaeologists use to fill the gap between
the facts in hand and what you want to do with those facts, or the bridge between what is
known and what is yet to be learned, then what better way to arrive at this then through
lived, experienced, practical, and rational ways of knowing and interpretation. Reid and
Whittlesey (2005:192) suggest, “pragmatism is a workable and honest approach to
scientific inquiry that begins with the notion that inquiry is grounded in a humanistic and
commonsense understanding of how people address problem solving in everyday life.”
Is theory needed to bridge the gap between what is known and yet to be learned?
Is it appropriate as archaeologists to take these meanings, values, memories, and practices
and turn them into our own speculated versions of the past and heritage? Is/are what
Indigenous communities want us to protect and preserve more of a tenet than a tangible?
Can we as researchers utilize these tenets more effectively to address what is important to
Indigenous communities? While considering these questions I again thought about what
the Mescalero Apache collaborators suggested to me in reference to just writing down
what they tell me, and then fellow White Mountain Apache tribal member Ramon Riley’s
(personal communication, 2010) statement that “you have to be Apache to know.” I
thought the best most rational and pragmatic way to do this would be to utilize certain
Apache cultural tenets from the White Mountain Apache Tribe Cultural Heritage
Resource Best Management Practices. Because the practices provide very useful
guidelines underscoring what is important and relevant to Apache people concerning
cultural heritage resources with the ultimate goal “to restore Ndee control over Ndee
heritage” (Welch et al. 2009:152), various tenets may be practically examined and
applied to provide better research outcome benefiting Apache people. For example, two
of the main tenets outlined in the document are: (1) Respect and; (2) Simple Avoidance.
These straightforward principles tied to everyday Apache lifeway’s and belief-systems
may be difficult for the archaeologist to accept due to the often destructive nature of
archaeological fieldwork and search for empirical data to explain the past, but they are
essential and rational to Apache place-based understandings.
Moreover, Apache views of the past or “critical reflections” of places such as the
Chiricahua Mountains demonstrate a persisting sense of place of such areas and how they
act as useful settings about the social, physical, political, and economic needs of the
present. This persistence of memory within the indivisible mind-land or “Ni” principle
have been “put to work” by Apache folks since time immemorial and usefully comport to
the broader question(s) often associated with defining an Indigenous research
methodology. Simple avoidance and respect can be used as vehicles to contextualize an
Apache Indigenous methodology. White Mountain Apache representative Ramon Riley
once stated in reference to the importance of mountains to Apache life-ways and overall
community well being that “they and the stars guide us” (Spoerl 2001:41). The extreme
importance and reverence Apaches show to these “holy places” in the form of respect and
responsibility, whether it be through personal prayer or offering, should alone
demonstrate to outside researchers and archaeologists the deleterious nature of
disturbance of these places and associated resources (natural or anthropogenic).
For example, throughout my research experience within the tribal and federal
milieus tribal members often begin any type of meeting, discussion, or field-visit with an
appropriate prayer for guidance, protection, and showing that respectful, meaningful and
responsible project-related activities would occur. It is important for outside researchers,
and sometimes tribal members as well, to understand that these blessings are necessary
and not just for the benefit of the tribal project participants and the tribal community, but
for all project personnel, their families, future well-being and to maintain continued
balance and harmony in the world as well. Silliman (2009) recognizes these pre-project
blessings or “smudges” as recent advancements or developments as a result of long-term
work associated with the Eastern Pequot. Although, in my personal experience these
blessings/protective prayers are becoming more common, are we as archaeologists taking
for granted these prayers and that oration manifested in elders/tribal cultural experts can
tell us so much about the how collaborative work should evolve? Non-Native
archaeologists and Natives who don’t follow traditional ways might remove their hats,
bow their heads, place here hands together, and speculate what they are hearing is along
the lines of their own religious belief-systems, and kindly say thank you without much
more consideration.
However, not only are these prayers asking for protection and guidance filled with
tremendous power, but they are replete with additional meaning in standard ethical paths
for better collaborations to emerge. I have adamantly stated the inconvenient nature and
the detrimental effects caused by the application of cross-cultural analogies in reference
to language and cultural phenomena because, in varying contexts, parallels are harmful
and diminish meaning. However, it is continually necessary due to lack cultural
understanding and comprehension. Moreover, it even becomes pejorative in nature due to
the lack of respect and recognition as non-American Indian collaborative standard
practice rather than truly collaborative respectful project outcomes.
For example, if one of the main tenets of dealing with cultural heritage resources
in the Apache worldview is “respect,” then this is manifest in the tribal practitioner
giving the blessing/prayer as well. Often these prayers are given by the most respected,
influential, venerated tribal folks because it is believed within their community that their
power is inherent, substantial, and highly effective. Because the
prayer/offering/ceremony is to collectively benefit/protect the group and keep balance
and harmony in the world, archaeological researchers need to practice collaborative
archaeology in this sense as well.
Moreover, in many cases, tribal cultural experts are required to make unnecessary
parallels out of necessity, but this necessity is not always understood fundamentally or
logically by the archaeologist, which again echoes Riley’s (personal communication,
2010) “you have to be Apache to understand” statement. For example, in his discussion
of places Watkins (2001:41-42) suggests:
“Human veneration of a place in a way that ties land to culture leads to a
metaphysical attachment—a sacred thread—that does not bind the people as so
much remind the people of the obligations and responsibilities carried forward
by the generations: that thread, like the thread of a rosary…reminds them of
their past and future. Their ancestors and their offspring, their spirit and their
The “rosary” analogy in the quote takes away the meaning of the importance of the
land and place in many tribal views. Basic writing does call for clarity when presenting to
a diversity of audiences but continued “abstraction” of Indigenous ways of knowing
harms Apache people by paralleling or attempting to put into English the feelings of
power experienced and alive within places. Moreover, if language is tied to the land
through “Ni” and, “traditional Apaches recognize that every element of the natural world
has power, and that maintaining a good relationship with these elements is crucial to
one’s ability to use these powers for sustenance and health” (Pilsk and Cassa 2005:284)
then obtaining power, and maintaining balance and harmony in the world are critically at
risk by subjugating and labeling these elements as something they are not.
Similarly, during various collaborative meetings with Western Apache cultural
experts concerning a long standing area of contention amongst the Forest Service and
Western Apache Nations an Apache representative has made attempts to clarify how
significant the area was to Apache people. In trying to convince and demonstrate to nonApache individuals how important the area is to Apache people a representative utilized
westernized religious diction including “altar” and “Mt. Sinai” to get his point across of
the power and tremendous importance of the area. If various areas and places cannot
understand English then it should not be necessary for these areas to be explained in these
terms which not only potentially take away meaning but the overall power of the area(s)
as well.
There are dangers with the use of English as an American Indian weapon to
convey information that I have outlined above. Western Apache community members
understand the power and importance of such places but are constantly forced to make
analogies out of necessity that not only minimizes overall meaning but can have adverse
effects to the sociocultural well-being of tribal communities as well. Therefore, caution
should be taken in reference to the utilization of English to convey the Apache language
or the comparison of an issue of extreme importance.
Moreover, approaching the past with an unassociated or naïve understanding can
lead to serious individual or community tribal suffering. Have any non-Natives ever felt
the ill effects by not taking proper precautions when handling items of the past? Is it
necessary for these researchers to first suffer consequences as a result of disrespectfully
dealing with the past? Can they feel the effects if they are not tribal members and have
varying belief-systems? Colwell-Chanthaphonh (2008:181) points out that even when the
first field efforts began at Mesa Verde “a Ute man opposed the excavations, explaining
that the disturbance of ancient Hopi Pueblos made the Ute people ill.” Archaeologists
have known and been informed by tribal folks for well over a century of the
consequences associated with disturbing the past, but continually brush it off as easily as
they do their dusty field pants after exiting an excavation unit. Colwell-Chanthaphonh
and Ferguson (2010:335) have suggested that when visiting ancestral archaeological sites
“although scholars may not comprehend such feelings that does not mean they should
deny those sentiments, and their importance in interpretation for others.” At the very least
researchers need to show respect through acknowledgment that these are not just hopeful
sentiments that may be heard by the creator, they are powerful, holy, experienced, realitybased principle tenets that command critical non-Apache contemplation.
Even worse, by participating in the blessing, some researchers or professionals
representing other entities in varying capacities think it is just a standard procedure they
have to go through to make the American Indian community happy and to further gain
their trust. For example, in my role dealing with tribal relations issues at the U.S. Forest
Service, I often participate in various meetings that deal with contentious issues on
ancestral lands managed by the forest. For the most part, a tribal member in attendance
will be asked to give the opening prayer. This is done throughout the entirety of the
project’s face-to-face meeting process. However, many times after negotiations and
discussing tribal perspectives and mitigation recommendations the negotiating parties
will act in so-called “good faith” and present tribes with agreements that are far from
what tribal communities have adamantly and vehemently indicated are necessary.
However, often these supposedly “mutual agreements” are nothing more than bullet
points outlining the most basic tribal mitigation/recommendation requests rather than
those issues of extreme tribal importance necessary for continued and future tribal wellbeing. Lack of attention to the critically fundamental issues and mitigation
recommendations—as well as who ultimately controls what happens to these resources—
is a continued problem of overreliance on non-native discourse. The lack of recognition
of Native issues treats contemporary issues of critical importance to American Indian
communities as something beyond the scope of the project or the administrators’ ability
to adequately address.
Consequently, final draft documents espousing “good faith” “mutually agreed”
upon consultation and collaborative efforts at the federal level are usually nothing more
than poor, undeveloped, ignorant attempts to integrate tribal concerns that are only
blurred fringes of what tribal communities fervently and adamantly indicated were
crucial project-related and beyond issues. Rather than acting in so-called “good faith”
federal entities and researchers working with tribal descendant communities need to
critically examine and humanize the consultation process because significant issues and
the circumstances associated with denying or not fully incorporating important tribal
concerns will only continue to stagnate consultation efforts, rather than make them more
meaningful and beneficial for American Indian communities.
My point is the most necessary, practical, and rational form of dealing with the
past—the blessing/prayer/ceremony from the Apache worldview is a powerful tenet of
protection and respect, but also a vehicle of reflection researchers can utilize to guide and
conduct themselves in ethically-responsible, respectful, and responsive ways that really
can make a difference to contemporary tribal communities. Demonstrating unfailing
respect, discarding any type of paternalistic notions, being superficially aware, and
realizing that what happened to American Indian groups in the past bears directly on how
they handle the present are essential to individual reflective processes. Because the past
defines contemporary reality, then all activities associated with dealing with the past have
to be approached within necessary tribally based parameters to avoid continued
misinterpretation, poor collaborative/consultation efforts, and diminished meaning within
tribal communities/contexts.
Apache Avoidance
To many Apache communities the Apache cultural tenet of “avoidance” in
reference to dealing with the past and visiting areas marked by material evidence of
ancestors is strictly followed. Furthermore, as Welch et al. (2009:151) suggests, “Ndee
teachings mandate respect for all ancient places, objects, and intangibles, affirming
avoidance as the highest form of respect.” In archaeological contexts the concept of
avoidance may be difficult for the archaeologist to comprehend or put into practice, but it
can be practiced in ways that are beneficial for both tribal communities and researchers.
The next section discusses the Apache cultural tenet of “avoidance” and ways in which it
can be approached to provide Apache communities with an ongoing sense of Gozho – a
fundamental Southern Athapaskan precept of a “state of beauty, balance and harmony
between the natural world, our communities and ourselves” (Ndee Iłahík’ai / Nnee Iłahík’
ai (Inter-Apache Policy on Repatriation and the Protection of Apache Culture, 2013).
When asked about the Apache concept of “avoidance” in reference to the past and
archaeological site areas many Apache representatives adamantly indicate that avoidance
should be practiced and is crucial to Apache community well being but also suggested
that it is a difficult tenet for them to practice as well. For example, Arden Comanche
suggested that we (Apache) do avoid the past because it is taboo, but it was not our fault
that entities (e.g., museums) have our things without permission. These are still a part of
our history and hard to stay away. “But I have to because I want their souls to go with the
rest of them.” Similarly, Mark Altaha (personal communication, 2009) suggests, “the past
is taboo for all Apache Tribes, but we have no choice, now more than ever we have to get
involved.” Holly Houghton (personal communication, 2009) has suggested that the
Mescalero Apache Tribe approach the past with avoidance, but if projects have to go
through they go through, “it’s not as strong as I would like to see.”
In reference to contemporary scholars of Apache archaeology and Apache
community experts working within reservations it seems that the tenet of avoidance needs
to be continually practiced, but at the same time in certain contexts/situations (i.e.,
repatriation) it is unavoidable. Similar to the Apache tenet of “respect” avoidance can
contribute to collaborative research with American Indian communities in various ways if
researchers can critically self-reflect. If researchers can view the tenet of avoidance as a
positive opportunity to constructively perform research that addresses contemporary and
future Apache concerns regarding CHRs rather than a negative hindrance to research then
collaborative research can be much fuller and richer for all parties involved. As Kovach
(2009:32) suggests in reference to reflexivity, it is “the researcher’s own self-reflection in
the meaning making process” then as Apache collaborators in their own reflections have
suggested it is necessary for them to be involved “more than ever.”
However, this involvement cannot be misconstrued as fully integrated
archaeological research, which is often the case in archaeological research projects
suggesting fully collaborative research with American Indian communities. Moreover,
this envelopment cannot solely be at the interpretive level. Participation—as equal
players—has to occur at the practical and methodological levels as well when important
choices are still available not only in reference to cultural heritage resources, but the
association of these resources to contemporary Indigenous livelihoods that are crucial to
Apache people. Just because we (Apaches) have a cultural tenet of avoidance does not
mean we should be avoided during decision-making processes.
Non-Apache researchers often view “avoidance” as a hindrance. This perspective
needs to be critically and creatively thought out and integrated into research plans so that
researchers can identify and embrace their own social and moral responsibilities beyond
paternalistic notions of saving “the Indian” or internalized romanticized notions of what
archaeology should be (e.g., excavation, invasive, and destructive research). Furthermore,
non-Apache archaeologists’ perspectives on the limitations of the tenet of “avoidance”
appears to perpetuate Apache stereotypes that Apaches often do not embrace about
themselves. For example, because traditionally non-avoidance of the past was and still is
considered a “taboo,” stereotypes surrounding the term alone give connotations of demarginalization and perpetuate archaeological speculations of lack of material remains
and “leave no trace” is equivalent to non-existent.
If Apache people today are required to live beyond traditional tenets or
parameters such as those of avoidance then how can sociocultural effects including
suffering brought on by disturbance of the past be minimized? As Cassa and Pilsk
(2005:282) suggest there is very little in the record of oral tradition and documentary
histories to contradict Ndee testimony that “their ancestors lived in harmony with their
biophysical environments, seldom, if ever depleting supplies of flora, fauna, soils or
water.” However, how can a component of this harmony (avoidance) be continually
embraced but not involve consequences of suffering on contemporary Apache
communities? In contemporary society the answer to these questions appears to lie within
how Apache communities approach and expect unavoidable consequences from
continued and future archaeological-anthropological research.
For example, because a main goal within Apache tribal life is to attain a sense of
“Gozho”—balance, harmony, and beauty—then varying levels of “necessary permitting”
within a practice of avoidance can be achieved on a case-by- basis. For example, if “selfreflection” and inherent responsibility in Mr. Comanche’s case is a duty to the ancestors,
then it is up to Mr. Comanche and appointed-appropriate Mescalero Apache Tribal
cultural experts to determine the applicable levels of avoidance while balancing and
achieving a continued sense of Gozho for the overall Mescalero tribal community.
However, non-Apache researchers have to approach these case-by-case Apache precepts
wholeheartedly and overwhelmingly commit to applying the unification of Apache
cultural experts thoughts, words, beliefs, and actions to protect the legacies of Apache
culture underpinned by such tenets of respect and avoidance.
As an Apache researcher, embracing the Apache past through protection and
respectful reinterment of my ancestors should not require me to internalize the power of
the oppressor (archaeologist) and the various non-Apache vehicles used to interpret this
power (the Apache past and history). However, because CHRs are “vital elements” of
living Apache communities the misuse of natural resources in reference to non-Apache
research goals continue to affect Apache culture. If researchers doing Apache
archaeology can look beyond ethics of doing to harm to an ethics of doing good for
Apache communities, the concept of “avoidance” can be utilized as a useful “directional”
tool for the non-Apache archaeologist in a time when Apache cultural experts and
archaeologist are becoming involved more than ever.
I have outlined two tenets of Apache cultural heritage resource management that
may assist researchers approaching the Apache past to better understand contemporary
Apache concerns and values. However, for archaeologists to attempt to meet these
concerns within the realities of today’s processes there needs to be some type of
management plan that addresses such tenets as respect and avoidance that identifies tribal
interests and priorities. The White Mountain Apache Tribe Cultural Heritage Resource
Best Management Practices provides a useful tool for non-Apache researchers to address
contemporary archaeological practices affecting traditional Apache lands, especially in
reference to issue of reburial and NAGPRA, but researchers need to be reflexive and
contemplate how certain unavoidable research practices can embrace the “avoidance”
tenet while at the same time allow Apache communities to retain a sense of Gozho—
balance, harmony and beauty.
However, in reality it remains very difficult for archaeologists to know how to
meet tribal concerns within the realities of todays “processes.” In an ideal world there
would be something like a tribal “management plan” that identifies not only the
interests/priorities of tribal communities, but addresses critical protocols and provides
distinct tribally-derived examples that do not attempt to address “pan-tribally”
constructed guidelines and methodologies but distinct, tribally-derived guidelines,
policies, and methodologies that are unique to each respective tribal entity involved in the
research project or processes. In my own experience at the Coronado National Forest, I
have attempted to contact all 12 tribal entities having ancestral associations to lands now
managed by the forest in an attempt to gather each tribe’s cultural heritage resource best
management practices to assist the Coronado heritage program to better manage ancestral
tribal lands in ways conducive and respective to tribal cultural practices. Among the
responses I received, however, many tribal cultural experts indicated this information is
sensitive and not to be distributed to non-tribal entities. The hesitancy to provide such
documentation is completely understandable given the ways sensitive and confidential
information regarding American Indian cultural heritage resources have been treated in
the past. Because the vast majority of archaeologists working with Native American
communities are non-Native (Atalay 2012:143) the distribution of tribal CHR best
management practices that have been developed by tribes for projects conducted on tribal
lands is difficult due to trust and confidentiality issues.
However, if some type of “like-mindedness” (Atalay 2012:143) and
accountability can be developed that not only embraces the sovereignty, selfdetermination, self-representation, nation-building, and decolonization goals of tribal
communities, but also the critical contemporary issues associated with these ideals, then
perhaps tribal entities will be more willing to provide such documentation to land
managing agencies beyond tribal and trust land boundaries.
The Forest Service and other Federal land managing agencies (e.g., the Bureau of
Land Management and Army Corps of Engineers) continue attempts to include the
concerns and priorities of descendant communities in their own project plans and findings
and as they evaluate the research designs of contractors at the proposal and treatment plan
stage of projects. Perhaps what is needed beyond this—definitely on a case-by-case
basis—are tribal plans that restructure anthropological/archaeological research models
that are not only based on “substantive power sharing” but also on how each tribal entity
defines their own research plans for managing, controlling, and interpreting their culture
and history.
For example, during the 2012 Society for American Archaeology meetings,
Navajo Nation Archaeology Department (NNAD) Archaeologist/Program Manager Ora
Marek-Martinez discussed what she would like to see for a Navajo Cultural Heritage
Resource Management Plan. She suggested the Navajo Nation plan would have touches
of a political agenda, but would seek to completely reframe “standard archaeology” in the
region with research designs that addressed the times and places of Navajo mythic
histories (Marek-Martinez 2012). This type of plan would provide much-needed “true”
multivocal underpinnings and guidelines that address tribal concerns and management
practices because it would be developed from a foundational tribal context. As Atalay
(2012:3) points out that by problematizing archaeology the future of the discipline
requires identification of new models. Such models have to be tribally derived, that “best
fit” each tribe’s distinctive CHR management practices and thoroughly applied to
projects on an individual basis, even on tribal trust lands. Because there is no one
overarching exclusive “archaeological” project and each project varies accordingly—the
who, what, where, when, why, and if will need to be comprehensively anticipated and
addressed to maximize the tribal community’s unique CHR best management practices
for tribal benefit. Due to the enormous diversity of American Indian communities “it is
problematic to assume what critical tribal issues will be” (Atalay 2012:145). As Welch
(et al. 2009:149) has stated that because Tribal Historic Preservation Officers typically
“employ culture- and place-based definitions, priorities, and operating principle, their
innovative stewardship rules (i.e. institutions) and organizations are often ignored beyond
reservation borders.” These innovative stewardship rules and critical tribal issues they
can address need to be thought out collectively in respective tribal contexts indicated by
Welch et al. (2009)—culture- and place-based definitions, priorities and operating
Being a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, which is one of the 12
tribes whose ancestral lands are now managed by Coronado National Forest, I have had
the opportunity to utilize various resources that are appropriate and approved by the
White Mountain Apache Tribal Council through resolution (the White Mountain Apache
Tribe Cultural Heritage Resource Best Management Practices). Moreover, my inherent
cultural understanding and experience have allowed me to integrate such White Mountain
Apache tenets as respect and avoidance into my own dissertation research and job-related
fieldwork at the forest service.
However, I think a constant contributing factor to misrepresentation,
misinterpretation, and mismanagement of past and contemporary Apache culture, history,
and lifeways is the minimal time and interactions researchers spend with Apache and
other American Indian communities. I am fortunate to be an enrolled tribal member and
understand reservation political and social dynamics as well as the various problems and
challenges the White Mountain Apache community faces today.
For example, The White Mountain Apache Tribe Cultural Heritage Resource Best
Management Practices (WMATCHRBMP) were put together collectively by the former
WMAT Historic Preservation Officer Dr. John Welch, Mark Altaha, Lucy and Shaunna
Hawkins (Welch et al. 2004). Although Dr. Welch is not a tribal member his more than
20 years’ experience working with the tribe has allowed him to not only become a trusted
advisor and consultant for the tribe, but a powerful ally who has acted in the best interest
of the tribe’s cultural heritage resource management activities. Welch’s long-term tribal
commitment went beyond basic short-term anthropological research projects having no
real direct benefits to the tribe, ranging from assisting the tribe to protect its holy southern
mountain Dził Nchaa Si’An to helping the tribe receive a multi-million dollar lawsuit to
repair dilapidated buildings at Fort Apache Historic Park. Welch’s continued
commitment to the tribe as a consultant and advisor despite his professorship
appointment in Vancouver—far from White Mountain Apache trust land—demonstrates
the remarkable work archaeologists and researchers can accomplish in assisting tribal
communities through long-term dedication and unrelenting attention to issues of critical
importance to tribal communities.
Developing a better cultural understanding aside from literature and minimal field
seasons is critical for researchers dealing with the Apache past and present. As Keown
(2012:20) suggests “only through understanding of culture, and in turn tribal protocols
can we adjust our approach to effectively interact with American Indian tribes.”
Another very good early example of this circumstance not as much directly
related to best management practices, but contemporary anthropological research with
Apache communities is U.S. military ethnographer John G. Bourke’s initial accounts of
Apache tribes on an 1874 ethnological questionnaire. On question number 20 in reference
to the moral habits and concerns of Apache tribes Bourke suggests the Apache are liars,
thieves, vindictive, not hospitable, revengeful, and great cowards (Bourke 1874).
However, nearly 17 years later, after spending extended periods of time amongst the
Apache in the Southwest U.S. and Mexico border Bourke suggests “he (the Apache)
keeps his word very faithfully and is extremely honest in protecting property, or anything
under his care.” Bourke’s many experiences with Apache tribes during a time of dynamic
change in the U.S. Southwest underpinned by U.S. government policies of extermination
and assimilation through tribal displacement from their homelands, and diminishing tribal
lands and resources, may have initially contributed to his questionnaire responses.
However, spending substantial periods of time with Apache groups gave Bourke a better
understanding of Apache lifeway’s and culture, and over time he envied and thought
highly of Apache people.
I think that similar circumstances (views) contemporary researchers take when
working with American Indian communities. Researchers are not as critically speculative
regarding American Indian character and moral values as Bourke initially was, (different
circumstances and time periods) but not spending extended time within American Indian
communities leads too poor understanding, speculation, miscommunication and
misinterpretation of these communities. More importantly, because of this lack of
experience researchers miss the most fundamental and important issues of concern that
tribes adamantly address during consultation meetings and collaborative research
projects. Although such recognitions as Ferguson and Colwell-Chanthaphonh’s “Virtue
Ethics” and Atalay’s (2012) use of “Community-Based Participatory Research” assist by
focusing on the social dynamics and relationships with communities and to “create
knowledge that is relevant locally” (Atalay 2012:6). However, does recognition of this
“relevance” always lead to beneficial outcomes for tribal communities?
Furthermore, in reference to relationships and spending immense amounts of time
with American Indian communities a very good example that is relevant to this
dissertation is the collaborative field school between The University of Arizona and the
White Mountain Apache Tribe. The University of Arizona Department of Anthropology
attempted to make strides in the collaborative context by designing a field school focused
on “expanding and enhancing tribal capacities for archaeological preservation” (Mills et
al. 2008). The field school was unique in that it was constructed with the goal of
benefiting the tribe by focusing on concerns the tribe but needed more exposure and
interaction to and with the Apache communities throughout the reservation. The field
school administration suggests that having the field school away from the reservation was
out of respect for the Apache community, but interactions and experiences are needed to
understand reservation dynamics and what is needed to truly assist Apache communities.
Inadequate time spent with American Indian communities can lead to various
elements of Indigenous cultures and worldviews including names, stories, songs,
ceremonies, and art to become “abstracted.” These abstractions then contribute to
elements losing essential components of their meaning, wholeness, and power (Thornton
2008:7). Because a vehicle of this “abstraction” is a result of minimal time spent with
American Indian communities then it is critical to focus on long-term extensive periods
of time living within Apache or other American Indian communities. Researchers need to
spend extended periods of time within these communities to really attempt to form better
understandings of why various contemporary issues underpinned by past experiences and
circumstances continue to manifest themselves within collaborative and consultation
contexts. Otherwise issues of crucial concern and importance will continue to be ignored
or not effectively addressed in final research products or policy that can substantially
make a difference for tribal entities and the collaborative framework overall.
Beyond the need to spend extended periods of time within Native American
communities there is also a need to examine certain early U.S. federal government
policies of dealing with Indigenous people within the U.S. Southwest. Have our attitudes
evolved extensively since the early “extermination” periods? The underpinnings and
goals of research agendas may continue to evolve overtime, but I think U.S. policies in
reference to dealing with American Indian people can act as useful guides and provide
glimpses of how these policies bear directly on contemporary research as well. For
example, during the U.S. Civil War a former Prussian solder named Francis Leiber
codified “the rules of war” into the Leiber Code, which was approved by President
Lincoln on April 24, 1863. Jacoby (2008:260) has indicated the code established policies
for dealing with prisoners and for distinguishing between civilians and combatants.
However, “the code drew a sharp distinction between “barbaric” and “civilized,” military
practices with the implication that Apache behaviour released the U.S. from following the
same moral standards that applied to Southern secessionsists” (Jacoby 2008:260).
Do researchers and non-Apaches in general still somewhat abide by these
distinctions in their own views of contemporary Apache communities to justify their own
research? For example, as archaeologists we go into Apache communities armed with a
set of traits learned from texts, classes, and our own initial understandings of these
communities. These traits that could include such terminology as ephemeral, highly
mobile, poorly understood, low visibility, raiding and warfare, organic, and poor
chronology. However, in reality and ironically so-called civilized traits that may have
been used to justify warfare tactics in the past need to be re-identified in Apache terms,
specifically those that are or crucial importance to contemporary Apache communities.
Similarly, Saitta (2003:13) recognizes that forms of knowledge production or
terminology in archaeology focus too much on questions that do not take into account
what is of interest or importance to mistreated peoples and histories. Saitta suggests that
what we should be focused on as archeologists working with underrepresented
communities “are questions about everyday life— its conditions, variations, rhythms, and
disjunctions—with answers developed in such a way that they are accessible to those
living peoples having a stake in the interpretations” (Saitta 2003:13). However, these
“answers,” if at all achievable, and the questions precluding them need to be tribally
derived/constructed and addressed/answered in ways that are useful from the respective
tribal entities they are derived from. Otherwise, research process associated with
American Indian communities becomes a continuum of re-hashed anthropological jargon
that never fully embraces, appreciates and critically addresses the contemporary needs
and issues of American Indian communities through such actions as building tribal
capacity and contributing to each tribe’s unique overall self-representation and
Furthermore, in reference to the contracting and grant proposal processes, which
ultimately fuel and contribute to much of the initial traditional archaeological inquiry, it
is necessary for these proposals to be written in creative ways that really give back to
tribal communities. Because the way the competitive research grant proposal and
contracting processes work for anthropological/archaeological research projects in the
U.S., there is a tendency to focus on much of the archaeologically based terminology to
justify research concerning the American Indian past. Overreliance on so called “key
words” or “hot topics” within the discipline are well meaning and necessary for grant
procurement, but they do not come close what a true definition of mutually beneficial
research should be. A “smudge” or a pre-or post-project blessing should be a part of the
project from planning stages and not written up later in deliverables or future grant
proposals as benefits to the tribe. What archaeologists see as collaborative “benefits” are
already part of tribal best management practices and everyday life.
Moreover, in reference to “benefits,” the University of Arizona Archaeological
Field Schools attempted to maximize benefits for the White Mountain Apache Tribe
following the tribal standard “51 percent rule” or “Kane Rule,” (Mills et al. 2008:44)
which states for all proposals and projects on tribal lands the majority of the benefits—
economic, managerial and educational—must accrue to the tribe and its members.
Although benefits such as training, pedestrian survey, damage assessment, curation, and
data protection may have been addressed to an extent, the authors state, “the list of what
the tribe wanted to see resulting from the field school still reads like a list of things the
Heritage Program needs on an annual basis” (Mills et al. 2008). In reality, the problem
still persists of how to truly maximize benefits for the tribe and its members. Being the
only White Mountain Apache student to attend and graduate from the field school I know
we need to somehow move beyond seeing “benefits” as a goals obtained through
archaeological reasoning and fieldwork, but the only way to do is to modify our research
agendas and creatively contribute to tribal well-being. If the “preservation of cultural
heritage, much of which is fragile, finite and irreplaceable, is intended to serve social,
educational, aesthetic, scientific, land restoration and economic interests” (Welch et al.
2009:153) then how can we preserve this heritage but attempt to alleviate contemporary
tribal problems? The field school agenda to build tribal capacity is a good start, but needs
to move beyond benefits underpinned by archaeological and future grant procurement
reasoning to areas of critical tribal need. Have the field school projects, completed survey
and data analysis, data procurement, or even the dubious claim of improving tribal
relations with the University due to previous Mt. Graham issues really benefited the tribe
and its members? I think my own Masters and Ph.D. dissertation research have suffered
from the same problems of finding ways to help contemporary Apache communities with
real-world/everyday problems as well, and I have suggested a pragmatic lens in
conjunction with the Apache sense of Ni may be useful, but more work is needed. As a
tribal member I am optimistic that archaeologists and other researchers can help, but
teaching methods and thought processes and goals have to be modified to answer the
important question: How can archaeologists draw on their disciplinary tools “to address
politics and real-world problems in the present” (Atalay, Clauss, McGuire and Welch
Although recent attempts to include Apache perspectives (Chanthaphonh and
Ferguson 2008; Herr et al. 2011) have contributed to a better understanding of the
Apache past there still is an overall lack of focus on examining critical issues to Apache
communities that often come up during the collaborative and consultation process. For
Apache contexts these traits could include a plethora of issues including those
vehemently and continually expressed by Apache tribal collaborators—language loss,
cultural preservation, suicide, rape, substance abuse, technological advances. Identifying
such traits and re-thinking how research and grant proposals could be reconstructed to
address these critical issues/traits which may contribute to research that is “truly”
beneficial to contemporary American Indian communities.
Examination of Power, Perception and Place: Multiple Archers on the Grassy
In the previous sections of this dissertation I discussed my overall methodological
approach to arrive at a better understanding of Apache history and contemporary issues
of tribal importance that require non-native researchers to critically examine themselves
and their own research agendas. I also discussed various problems with non-native
research frameworks and problems I encountered during my own dissertation research
and work experiences with the Federal government and American Indian communities. In
the following section of this dissertation I will discuss the possibility of critical Apache
cultural hemorrhaging in the form of various factors—
misinterpretation/misrepresentation that continually act upon and impinge on the Apache
past and contemporary well being that move beyond Basso’s “place based” analysis. I use
the term “cultural hemorrhaging” to explain the ongoing state of misinterpretation of
Apache culture that contributes to misunderstandings and lack of Apache voice in
reference to their own culture. The hemorrhaging is both the non-Apache continued
romantic notions of the Apache past and how this contributes to Apache suffering
through misinterpretation.
A Personal Enlightening Experience
While contemplating the concept of “place” and its association and Apache
worldviews, culture, and history I took notice of the man-made “grassy-knoll” areas
outside the Mansfield library. Of course, being at a university context the areas were well
manicured and implemented for aesthetic purposes, but aside from the well-watered
green grass I began to think about the assassination of John F. Kennedy and Keith
Basso’s discussions of Western Apache “stalking with stories” and “shot by arrows”
analogies used in Wisdom Sits in Places. Was I having my own sense of place provoked
by the simple anthropogenic feature and recent readings of Basso? I then began to picture
President Kennedy’s caravan rolling slowly through downtown Dallas, the multiple
shooter theory and the unforeseeable “kill shot.” I then thought of the arrow analogy in
reference to forcing Apache people to act right in Apache society. However, were there,
and are there multiple archers acting upon Apache communities today, that do not
necessarily “act upon” Apache people in positive ways?
Although Apache community members do recognize what is happening to their
culture, what can be done to change the outcome of a “kill shot” in the form of critical
Apache cultural hemorrhaging? What I mean by cultural hemorrhaging is the continued
assault on the history and culture of Apache communities through misrepresentation may
lead to important elements of Apache culture being ignored for non-Apache benefits that
will only contribute to negative sociocultural community effects.
The individual and large-scale “internalization” concerning the current state of
knowledge in reference to non-Apache perceptions of Apache history and culture
continue to adversely affect contemporary Apache tribal communities. For example, on
their unique journeys through life (Kennedy’s slow moving caravan) Apache people learn
and experience various mechanisms (arrows) that shape their overall individual cultural
genealogies by outsiders (misinterpretation, speculative reasoning, attitudes) that sadly,
have come to represent the general public’s view of Apache people. Over time these
arrows have the potential to seriously damage Apache culture and history as well as the
contemporary Apache world, but at the same time provide constant reminders of the
critical need to address issues of extreme importance to modern day Apache communities
and the future well being of these communities as well. Are these “mnemonic pegs”
(geographical features) where the underpinnings of Apache moral teachings reside
fracturing as a result of shifting power dynamics? Have previous research frameworks
and dealing with archaeological researchers created what Jacoby (2008:261) has termed
“narratives of horror” and “historical trauma” for contemporary Apache communities?
Basso’s (1996:60) often quoted analogy of an Apache person having been “shot” with
arrows to remind and stalk them to continually act morally right in Apache society
reverberate and help Apache communities by reminding members to act right in Apache
society. However, sometimes there are other archers beyond stories tied to topographical
reminders. Because of this, Apache sociocultural morality and well-being suffers from
these constant attacks (by these other archers) that work to interpret Apache culture and
history from non-Apache research frameworks and project benefits that are one-sided at
best. Moreover, if self-reflection and moral reminders to “act right” within Apache
society are based on topography and the natural environment and we have been restricted
from these reminders and places of power attainment then where are they to be found
As I earlier suggested in the Seth Pilsk explanation, the curtailment of traditional
land use areas by the U.S. government has not only forced Apache individuals to find
power elsewhere, but has significantly impacted sociocultural life-ways in reference to
various themes constantly addressed by Apache cultural experts including language loss,
cultural preservation, suicide, rape, substance abuse, technological advances.
I have utilized statements from Basso’s (1996) Wisdom Sits in Places because,
aside from Goodwin (1939, 1942) and Opler (1965, 1969, 1983a), it is probably the most
read ethnography on the subject of Western Apache social life and moral reasoning. I
have discussed concepts of Apache power loss over time and the need for critical
reflection by researchers of Apache culture and history. However, after another reading
of Basso’s work I began to consider reasons why common themes—language loss,
cultural preservation, suicide, rape, substance abuse, and technological advances—
continue to present themselves during in-field collaborative visits with tribal cultural
experts to such places as the Chiricahua Mountains. Are we as archaeologists
contributing to these continued passionate Apache concerns of contemporary Apache
Are topographical features still the primary archers for Apache morality-based
learning or has this power dynamic shifted to non-Apache forms of power, and thus the
instructors of morality for today’s generations of Apache youth? This power, still very
much alive, embodied, and inherently place-based within the natural topographical
landscape, is present but does not comprehend superimposition of other forms of power
and language that are adversely affecting contemporary Apache culture and well being.
In essence, it is necessary for Apache people to continue the decolonization and
denaturalization process in reference to informing researchers and the general public of
the critical issue associated with the past that are of extreme importance to contemporary
Apache people. The overall alleviation of issues of extreme importance to Apache people
may not come full circle, but necessary steps can be made to avoid continued Apache
cultural hemorrhaging in the form of continued of culture loss and misconception.
“I’ve always thought that the things that enter into the changing of a man’s approach or
of his opinions and so forth, through time, are worth having.”
(Julian Hayden 1998:59)
Initially, the overall goal of this dissertation research was to better identify
historical-period Apache landscape presence through an integrative approach involving
archaeological research, historical-period literature, and inter-Apache tribal interpretation
of various probable Apache sites located within the Chiricahua Mountain range. Potential
Apache sites were visited and Apache conceptions of the areas were recorded. However,
through this type of on-the-ground site-based research common contemporary themes of
critical importance to Apache communities are continually mentioned by tribal
representatives, but rarely addressed adequately by researchers.
My Experience: Common Themes During the Collaborative Process
Throughout my dissertation research various issues/themes presented themselves.
Some are more common to the collaborative process ranging from logistical and
monetary issues to those that became manifested as the project progressed. I experienced
various issues as a result of my American Indian identity, being a tribal member of one of
the groups involved, my status as a student, appointment as an archaeologist/tribal
relations federal employee, and sporadic consultant for the White Mountain Apache
Tribe. The next section of this dissertation outlines these various issues/themes and I
attempt to provide some direction as a result based of my own experience with the
collaborative research process with American Indian tribal nations that will assist other
researchers conducting similar research projects. My goal in this section is not to provide
overarching solutions or outline a model for “best practices in collaboration,” but to list
some of the issues I encountered during my dissertation research, and discuss them in
greater detail in reference to how I attempted to negotiate/resolve the issues (Table 8.1)
Federal Entity
Intra-tribal Politics
Intertribal Animosity
Willingness of Administration
My Own Identity/Multiple Responsibilities
Table 8.1. Challenges/Problems encountered during dissertation research.
Federal Entity
As an employee of the Coronado National Forest throughout the entirety of my
dissertation research there were various challenges given my employment for a Federal
land managing entity. The first was the fact most of the current land base encompassing
the Coronado National Forest consists of the aboriginal homelands for 12 American
Indian groups in Arizona, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and internationally into Mexico as
well. Moreover, although many tribal entities were removed from these lands access was
curtailed by Federal U.S. Indian policies of the late nineteenth and early-mid twentieth
centuries tribes still retain strong contemporary ties to these lands now managed by the
Forest Service. Pre-existing animosity in reference to centuries of power shifts,
Euroamerican dominations, forced assimilation, paternalistic ideals and genocidal acts of
extermination have caused major distrust and hesitancy of tribal nations toward the
Federal government.
Furthermore, in my experience, tribal hesitancy to trust the Forest Service is
manifested in ways the Forest Service manages and treats ancestral sites, human remains
and associated items, and traditional cultural properties by placing interests of other nontribal entities such as the University of Arizona, mining companies or even the general
public ahead of the tribes. For example, the continued unwillingness to manage the
Pinaleño Mountain range— an area on the Coronado National Forest recognized as a
Western Apache Traditional Cultural Property on tribal lands by providing and end date
for the University of Arizona’s permit to operate a large binocular telescope epitimozes
prioritizing non-tribal interests. Tsosie (1997:65) suggests this type of treatment of
Ancestral sites and Traditional properties as “public resources” (Tsosie 1997: 65), with
public interests superseding those of tribal entities permits progress by emphasizing the
general public’s want and need above tribal concerns. Because of these actions there is no
remedy for continued lack of genuine positive outcomes for tribal interests only
continued round-about occurrences of mandated consultation to better manage areas for
the general “public” rather than managing these areas for tribal interest as required
fiduciary responsibility as a Federal land managing agency.
Intra-tribal Politics
Researchers who have spent extended amounts of time with tribal communities on
reservation lands usually have formed some understanding of the inner workings of tribal
politics and the immense effects politics can have on research projects. Because federally
recognized tribes are sovereign nations, tribal administration evolves on a regular basis
similar to branches of the U.S. government. As Davina Two Bears (2006:385) points out
for the Navajo Nation, “since the Navajo Nation Council members are elected every four
years, re-education of the newly elected Navajo leaders, including the Navajo Nation
president, must be done on a continual basis if Navajo Nation Archaeology Department
desires continued community and tribal government support.” Similarly, concerning their
work with museums and tribal communities Luby and Nelson (2008) suggest, “tribes and
museums are constantly changing in terms of leadership, membership, funding and
institutional and programmatic priorities.” Due to this constant evolution of tribal
government both tribal and non-tribal researchers face the reality of getting their projects
approved, not approved, or even worse, possibly terminated.
For example, in my own dissertation research I had been collecting data through
the Forest Service as part of a regional priority grant that was received in an attempt to
better identify Apache material traces on the landscape on various Forest Service lands
throughout the U.S. Southwest. As part of this research I put together the appropriate IRB
review proposal for my tribe to review. The tribe had recently formed their own IRB
approval process and my project was one of the first to be reviewed. Although I had
worked closely with two of the committee members since I started working for the
WMAT Historic Preservation Office one of the committee members had a real problem
with my research even going so far as to say “who is this person and why is he doing
this?” A quick but adamant explanation by the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer that I
was a tribal member and they had worked with me through my Masters research and fully
supported my dissertation alleviated the committee members concern. However, although
I was happy that the tribe had formed their own IRB committee to question and approve
potential projects occurring on White Mountain Apache trust lands I never conceived that
there was the potential for my own research to not be approved even though I am a tribal
member and had the support from other board members. This experience does not
suggest that that any type of research project conducted by tribal members should and
needs to be approved. Here, I am simply stating how my own research had previously
been supported by tribal historic preservation program and that at times newly appointed
advisory board or committee member’s may question and be suspicious of research
conducted on tribal lands. Researchers need to be prepared to discuss their research and
explain how they are affiliated with the tribe, but at the same time the overall committee
should discuss proposed research projects amongst themselves to be informed of the
projects overall substance and goals, rather than naively objecting to the project.
Moreover, another issue with reference to tribal politics that I encountered is who
has the right to speak for the tribe? Most of the time research inquiries and issues
associated with culture and heritage get mailed to both the Tribal Chairman-President’s
office and to the tribe’s cultural preservation office as well. However, certain sensitive
and politically charged issues can, and should, only be addressed by certain tribal experts.
Problems and issues often present themselves when various members of the tribal
community feel uninformed, feel they should have been involved, or feel other tribal
members are more knowledgeable to address certain issue. For example, in reference to
not only ongoing research projects but long-term contentious projects on and off tribal
lands, a researcher has to keep in mind that tribal elections and changes in the
administration will constantly happen. Newly appointed or long term members of tribal
councils or those in other tribal positions of power may want to get involved in certain
projects that they have never been interested in before. Or, they may delegate to other
areas within the tribal infrastructure to address Apache concerns, recommendations, and
mitigation strategies. This may halt or even end the work conducted on the project by
appointed tribal experts because of the new representative’s naivety or lack of knowledge
of the project or issues. Researchers need to realize that there is a whole intratribal
political dynamic aside from their research proposal/agenda. I have learned when
working with tribal entities, including my own, that I have to be extremely patient,
humble and unyieldingly respectful, because tribes are sovereign nations and there is
always going to be an inner political dynamic happening that has constant ripple-downeffects felt down to approval of research projects.
Intertribal Animosity
In some cases it is a reality that some tribal representatives engaged in cultural
heritage preservation and archaeological work do not get along professionally or socially
based on some past historical wrong, contemporary contentious issue(s), or basic
personal or personality-based issues. Disagreements between tribal communities will
present themselves and can be difficult to work through and navigate. I found in my own
research the best thing to do is to let representatives figure these issues out for
themselves. Certain grievances may stall research, and in the worst case end it, but
attempting to intervene as a researcher and act as mediator only aggravates the situation
and poses a paternalistic threat that is unnecessary. As Keown (2010:21) points out,
“First and foremost is the need to respect the inherent sovereignty of tribes and remind
ourselves that we have no formal authority over tribal programs and operations.”
Willingness of Administration
Throughout my dissertation research and employment at the Forest Service I was
often frustrated concerning various ongoing projects involving approved mining projects,
land exchanges and unwillingness to really counter sociocultural decimation in tribal
communities. These lasting and roundabout discussions concerning various projects have
real world everyday effects and further contribute to distrust of Federal entities. At this
point, if there are political and personal objectives beyond previous years of trust forming
and working toward what is truly beneficial for tribal entities it is up to researchers,
especially those of American Indian descent, to ascend to positions of power and make
needed changes. Often times, in reference to various sacred site issues or reviewing tribal
comments for the Forest Service I have felt helpless in my ability to help tribes get their
voices heard. I have considered a career in the Forest Service to move up the
administrative ladder to one day be able to have the power to deny project approval or
terminate long-term leases on Forest lands for the benefit of tribal nations. As managers
of large land bases that are the former homelands of tribal entities administrators need to
move beyond acting in good faith by solely meeting with tribes and be willing to make
important decisions that maximize benefits for tribal entities above all, especially in the
case of Traditional Cultural Properties. As Carter (1997:153) suggests, “it depends how
willingly the rules, regulations, and intent of the acts are enforced by decision makers.” If
the Federal trust doctrine hypothetically, theoretically and legally binds best interests of
American Indian communities to their trust resources then decision makers holding
power positions to make critical change need to be willing to make these changes for
absolute benefit of tribal well-being and tribal sovereign status beyond those needs of
stakeholders such as the general public or research institutions with deep pockets.
My Own Identity/Multiple Responsibilities
As a member of an American Indian Tribal community my identity has often
guided my thought processes and worldviews regarding research and protocol. Kovach
(2009:164) suggests a fundamental challenge for Indigenous researchers is “the
inevitability of being accountable to culturally and epistemologically divergent
communities.” In my own experience this type of “dual/multiple accountability” has been
a difficult situation to navigate. My identity as a member of the White Mountain Apache
Tribe, my employment at the U.S. Forest Service, and my status an archaeologist
completing a Ph.D. degree have challenged and strengthened my reasoning and
awareness, but have continually affirmed my overall goals of attempting to expand upon
what is known about the Apache past through Apache rationalization processes. My
inherent Apache identity is a continued blessing that I am constantly and forever thankful
for. Being not only a member of the White Mountain Apache Tribe, but a member of one
of the 566 federally recognized American Indian communities in the United States, I had
the opportunity at a young age to cultivate an understanding of the unique history of
American Indian people and the continued effects of colonial and U.S. governmental
policies of genocide and extermination.
However, one persisting problem many American Indian professionals including
myself have and continue to deal with in academia and other professional milieus’ is the
stereotype that as an American Indian person “we are able to speak on behalf of all tribal
people” (Lippert 2010:185). I dealt with this constantly throughout the duration of my
graduate career and through my work at the U.S. Forest Service. There are many levels to
this stereotypical concept as well. Not only could I talk on (1) behalf of all American
Indian people, but I could talk on (2) behalf of all Apache people, and (3) my own White
Mountain Apache people as well. In a way I had a three-pronged American Indian
identity. I found this very difficult to negotiate in various contexts throughout my work
with the Federal government, White Mountain Apache Tribe, and as a graduate student.
As an Apache tribal member I have not only dealt with the issue of being an
anthropologist, but an American Indian anthropologist as well, having to experience
questions of suspicion from other tribal members at the level of just an “anthropologist”
and then as an “American Indian anthropologist.” I have experienced the critiques
and stereotypes while a multidisciplinary graduate student including being asked what
“the Native American” view is of archaeology or questions of why I want to study
anthropology in courses outside of the School of Anthropology. These types of questions
were somewhat expected, but really made me consider the disconnect or lack of effective
dialogue and pedagogy between the School of Anthropology and the American Indian
Studies program. Cross-listed courses and general curriculums of the two schools offer
various classes that can be useful for beginning archaeology graduate students, but are
rarely taken advantage of. At this level, I think a required core class for archaeologists
working in North America and first year American Indian Studies would be beneficial
and alleviate some naivety and possibly enlighten students from each department to
contemporary issues and continued disconnect between much of archaeology and the
American Indian Studies program. It would be beneficial to have a co-taught class with
three professors. One from the School of Anthropology, one from American Indian
studies, and a Federal Indian law professor. A class of this nature would be very
beneficial to first year archaeology graduate students working in contemporary Indian
Moreover, because as Welch et al. (2009:151) states “those evincing interest in
the knowledge and possessions of the dead are often viewed with suspicion.” I have had
numerous fellow tribal members ask the question of why I want to be archaeologist or
study the past when it should be left alone. I often state that I think it is necessary for
tribal members to work as archaeologists because only when tribal members are involved
can proper, respectful, and responsible research and project-related activities can occur.
In essence, fellow Apache tribal members agree that a tribal member who understands the
past is better to have in the role of a tribal archaeologist than a non-tribal archaeologist.
However, the proper ways of dealing with the past as defined by the White Mountain
Apache Tribe and ongoing constant communication with designated Apache cultural
experts is necessary as well.
Furthermore, I fear a perpetual problem within academia today is that graduate
students who are working with American Indian communities either directly or indirectly
are not trained properly, or cannot see on their own how American Indian communities
are still being affected today by the legacy of U. S. colonial efforts. As Duran and Duran
(1995:1) point out “without a proper understanding of history, those who practice in the
traditions of social sciences operate in a vacuum, thereby merely perpetuating this
ongoing neocolonialism.” Is it necessary for students of archaeology to learn the “socalled” core of anthropological thought from past scholars such as Boas, Foucault, or
Marx without having to learn the basic underpinnings of the legal history and the
formation of contemporary cultural heritage resource law under the racial supreme court
decisions referred to as the “Marshall Model,” American Indian activist movements as
well as works by such scholars as Arthur C. Parker and Vine Deloria, Jr.?
I think that because of this bias, not only do the graduate students planning to
work with American Indian communities doing so-called “collaborative” work suffer but
more importantly, the tribal communities involved continue to suffer as a result of this
lack of understanding and education. Because of this ongoing problem I think students
need to receive “required” core coursework so they can begin to understand the unique
legal relationship between the federal government and Indian Tribes, set forth in the U.S.
Constitution, treaties, statutes, executive orders, and court decisions.
How much of the “current state of knowledge” regarding the Apache in reference
to land claims, archaeology, and history that was heavily influenced by western society
and colonial underpinnings has been internalized by non-Apache researchers? Through
the internalization of the “colonial mind set” in reference to theoretical speculations is
where the problem continues to lie. Of the recent projects—including my own Masters
research-- what kind of direct benefits have the White Mountain Apache received? A
little monetary help in the form of data collection and a few interviews with Apache
community members that get shelved, which is not beneficial for either entity.
I realize that our job as “archaeologists” is not to solve the vast community issue
within tribal communities, but the continued reference to these issues and problems stated
time after time by tribal cultural experts during consultation and collaborative issues
demonstrates that, in the Apache world view, archaeology (the past) is strongly related to
the present. Archaeologists need to become “enthusiastic learners and dedicated
listeners” (Willow 2010:83) not only toward material remains and formed empirical and
theoretical frameworks, but to the real-world everyday concerns and issues brought up
time and time again during consultations and collaborations with American Indian
Many of these common themes/challenges/problems I encountered during
research for this dissertation often overlap. I have outlined and discussed in greater deal
some of these challenges I encountered and how we as archaeologists can somewhat
ameliorate and be prepared for them. However, each research project will be unique and
will present its own set of challenges that the researcher has to be highly adaptable to in
any context. Although the distinctiveness of each project will contribute to the
“collaborative continuum” (Ferguson and Chanthaphonh 2008) due to this
“distinctiveness,” there will always be something to contribute to the interminable nature
of the continuum.
Final Thoughts
Initially, the focus of this dissertation was an attempt to find better ways to
identify Apache landscape presence in the Chiricahua Mountains and Southwest United
States in general. By utilizing an integrative approach I hoped to view the past through
multiple lines of evidence and collaborative human agency perspectives. Although sites
were visited, surveys were conducted, and tribal interviews occurred the initial path of
this dissertation was modified. Material evidence and research goals scholars continue to
ask in reference to “Apache archaeology” gave way to the contemporary problems and
concerns of Apache descendant communities. The Chiricahua mountainscape illuminated
not only the Apache past in reference to culture, history and archaeology, but how
problems of the past are persistent and proliferating throughout present day Apache
What I have learned as an American Indian archaeologist or researcher is that it is
important to remain reflexive, responsive, adaptable, and responsible and most of all
respectful to the various themes that will no doubt present themselves during
collaborative work with descendant American Indian communities. In reference to
pragmatism and its usefulness to archaeology, there continues to be a need for
archaeologists to “become more open to critiquing their work and reconsidering their
underlying assumptions” (Baert 2005). If archaeologists and other researchers working
with tribal communities can move beyond their own underlying assumptions and
embrace what Baert has termed “self-referential knowledge” or “the ability of
individuals to question or re-describe themselves and their cultural presuppositions”
(Baert 2005:4) then Western science can potentially be rid of “some of its flaws and, in
so doing, enable it to position itself to contribute to dialogues surrounding contemporary
social and political issues in meaningful ways.”
It has been said by Father Alfred Braun, who in 1916 was assigned by the Order
of Franciscan Monks to the Mescalero Apaches, that “in the old days they [Apaches]
trained their children to suffer because they knew suffering would come into everyday
life” (Ball 1970:VIII). However, how are we as Apache people taught to face this
everyday suffering today? How are we taught to counter erroneous and negative
assumptions about our culture and history? Maybe it is not our duty as archaeologists to
“solve the world’s problems,” but if such circumstances such as alcoholism, substance
abuse, depression, loss of power, and continued negative stereotypes and assumptions
about our culture are a direct result of injustice, the aggressive conquest of the America’s
and dishonored treaties, and the overall lack of understanding of American Indian
cultural systems, then as archaeologists working with these communities we need to
“change our thinking.” Similarly, in reference to theory, will there be a time when
scholars within the anthropological-archaeological discourse relinquish their
“objectification of science” which just propagates and prolongs intellectual, political, and
social control over knowledge systems? Enough suffering has been experienced through
genocide and the lack of understanding and irrelevant application of unnecessary
theoretical frameworks. It is time for archaeologists to assist with the alleviation of these
cultural “soul wounds” (Duran and Duran 1995:24) by changing their thought processes
in reference to American Indian communities. Because, the perpetual degradation and
misinterpretation of American Indian history and culture has been internalized by the
general public and created space between reality and romanticism (e.g., Apaches as
warlike and bloodthirsty raiding warriors) which contributes to wounds of colonialism
brought on by the colonial legacy of archaeology, archaeologists need to “acknowledge
that we have created such a space” (Lippert 2006:438) and “recognize our ability to
repair the bridge between the past and present” (Lippert 2006:438).
If the “core of Native American awareness was the place where the soul wound
occurred” (Duran and Duran 1995:45), and this “core essence is the fabric of soul and its
from this essence, that mythology, dreams and culture emerge” then it is necessary for us,
as archaeologists to do all we can to undo wrongs of past archaeological fieldwork and
reasoning’s through contribution and maximization of benefits to tribes first. As (Keown
2010:17) suggests, “it is about you and your willingness to change your thinking about
American Indians and their experiences. It is up to you to experience a paradigm shift.”
Finally, this dissertation has attempted to inform archaeologists and other
researchers working with Apache and other American Indian communities of the critical
need to be reflexive and rethink their own research goals and interests to better address
contemporary issues of the utmost importance to American Indian communities. Initially,
the project goals focused on forming a better understanding of Apache material traces in
the Chiricahua Mountains using a pluralistic approach. Although various sites were
visited and interpretations were made, what became clear is a lack of understanding and
failure of the academy to really look beyond what is needed objectively and empirically
to what is needed humanistically in the present day. I have addressed my own
experiences during my collaborative dissertation project as a way to assist researchers
who may experience similar issues throughout the duration of their own research.
Ultimately, what I have learned is that preservation of the Apache life-way and tribal
well-being are of the utmost importance and need to be continually respected, protected
and preserved for the future – “Nowike Eta Bida Distee.”
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