How does citizen science support your research?
Relevancy and participation are essential in doing research in the 21st Century. Knowledge for knowledge’s sake will always be valuable, but today’s society puts more emphasis in applicability. Citizen scientists provide knowledge, skills, and passion to projects that help us reach new audiences and further our impact. Citizen scientists bring insight and perspective to a project that makes the research rich and meaningful. Citizen scientists are exciting wonderful people that create a reciprocal experience to a research project. Additionally, in order to do the scale of projects we want to do at Crow Canyon, citizen scientists are a crucial part of our work force.
What do you enjoy most/what is most interesting about researching ancestral Pueblo communities?
Doing archaeological research in the American Southwest and studying ancestral Pueblo communities in some ways feels like hitting the jackpot in North American archaeology. Archaeologists’ investment in ancestral Pueblo communities is vast, which makes our work challenging, but in a progressive way. The aspect of Pueblo communities that excites me the most is the deep history and longevity of cultural practices overlaid with expansive and dynamic shifts in material culture. Pueblo culture engulfs many people and traditions, but there is also acknowledgement of specific groups, individuals, and periods that create a more dynamic conversation about Pueblo communities’ culture and identity.
What is one of your favorite moments in the field?
In 2016, I had the pleasure to work with a woman who has been on several Earthwatch expeditions over the years with her family. At the end of one of the field days, she exposed a piece of sandstone with engraved lines in a cross-like pattern. She turns to me to say, “I can’t just take that out, can I?” I smiled and confirmed that she could not in fact take it out right away, reminding her of the importance of context on an archaeological site. The plan was to go out the next day to record and extract the stone, but the rain prevented us from excavating. While visiting a museum on our impromptu field trip, she asked me if I would take a picture of her “find” and mail it to her. I sent her the photographs and described the stone as a “common abrader stone.” She wrote back saying, “Many thanks for taking the time to send the photos of my ‘find.’ O.K. it was a ‘common abrader stone,’ but the experience of finding it was far from common to me.” This interaction reminded me of the impact of archaeology on those outside of the archaeological research community and touched my heart to be a part of her experience.