Nine Mile Canyon Stewardship Day – but Virtual!

ehora UPAN Blog

Every year Project Discovery, the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, the Bureau of Land Management, the Utah SHPO and many, many others have gathered in Nine Mile Canyon for a day-long celebration of archaeological stewardship… and this year will be our biggest event yet! We’re hosting a virtual event to keep everyone safe and healthy.

During this virtual event you can meet the archaeologists, students, and other people just like you who live and work in Nine Mile Canyon. Each and every Wednesday from October through November we’ll host presentations and conversations with our friends and we want you to join us! Come curious and ready to learn about the past and how you can help steward this incredible resource for future generations.

Re ad on to learn more about the events, which will run from October through November, and sign up to reserve your spot on our virtual jaunt through Nine Mile Canyon!


How to Visit Sites Like an Archaeologist with Elizabeth Hora from the Utah SHPO and UPAN

If you’ve ever hiked with an archaeologist, you may notice that they see things a little differently! The shallowest dip in the ground becomes an ancient pithouse, a cluster of chipped stone debris becomes a workshop, and all around the landscape becomes filled again with people and their daily lives. Archaeologists are trained to look closely at sites to see small details and use them to reconstruct the patterns of past lives. There’s no magic to it – and you can learn it too! In this presentation Elizabeth Hora uses sites in Nine Mile Canyon to show you how to look at the world around you in new ways to see traces of the past.


It Takes a Child to Raise a Village: Public Outreach and Student Engagement at the Cottonwood Village Excavation, Nine Mile Canyon, Utah with Tim Riley from the Prehistoric Museum in Price

As part of the long-term interpretive and stewardship goals for Nine Mile Canyon, the Bureau of Land Management partnered with the Utah State University Eastern Prehistoric Museum, Montgomery Archaeological Consultants, Arizona State University Tourism and Recreation Management, and the Colorado Plateau Archaeological Alliance to interpret a pit structure at Cottonwood Village. To most people, it is hard to see the “home” in the centuries-old collapsed pithouses used by the Fremont in Nine Mile Canyon and elsewhere. This project aims to increase the interpretability of the structure via a partial excavation, revealing the living areas and the activities that took place there centuries ago. 

An additional goal of this project was community engagement in citizen science. Though professional archaeologists from Montgomery Archaeological Consultants directed the excavation, the bulk of the work “in the ground” was done by school and other youth groups. Archaeology and other field sciences are the perfect gateway to introduce students to science as both a method of learning and potential career path. Additionally. these types of non-traditional learning environments can engage students left behind in the classroom and show them that there are many ways of learning. Studies have shown that student engagement in these types of sensory and kinesthetic learning environments can improve their self-confidence, impact their performance in the classroom and, even, reduce the youth suicide rate. This ongoing project demonstrates how public-private partnerships can directly target school-aged citizen scientists in a manner that benefits all parties.


Archaeology of Range Creek Canyon, West Tavaputs Plateau, Utah with Shannon Boomgarden from the Natural History Museum of Utah

Range Creek Canyon is located in the West Tavaputs Plateau in east central Utah. The terrain is rough spanning a wide range of variability in elevation. The creek starts at Bruin Point at 10,000 ft and drains into the Green River at 4,200 ft. The Range Creek Field Station was established in 2009 for the protection and research of the amazing archaeological record preserved there.  It is managed by the Natural History Museum of Utah. The field station consists of approximately 3,000 acres of land along 13 miles of road from north gate to south gate. It is surrounded by 50,000 acres of wilderness land managed by the Bureau of Land Management. Over 500 archaeological sites have been recorded in Range Creek Canyon. The sites are very well preserved because the area was private property for many years and access by visitors was limited. The sites date primarily to the Fremont occupation of the canyon, about 1,000 years ago. Archaeological sites include open residential, rock shelters, artifact scatters, rock art, and food storage sites (granaries, cists, and tool caches).


Those were the days: Project Discovery Alumni Reflections with Margie Nash from Project Discovery

Project Discovery is an archaeology-based program that works with high school age students and their teachers. Students in the Project Discovery Program spend one weekend a year camping and hiking in the canyon, learning crafts from Ute teachers and helping to interpret archaeological sites for the public alongside professional archaeologists. Join our alumni from Project Discovery as they remember back to their time spent in the Canyon with Project Discovery. Perhaps you or someone you know could be the next class of Project Discovery students!


Hare Do You Like Your Rabbit? The Archaeological Expression of a 6,000 Year Old Communal Rabbit Drive with Ron Rood of Metcalf Archaeological Consultants

Rabbits and hares represent an important component of the diet of indigenous peoples across the Great Basin, Colorado Plateau and Great Plains.  Rabbit procurement achieved through trapping and individual hunting was an ongoing and likely, a daily pursuit.  Periodically, communal efforts consisting of rabbit drives were conducted and these have been described in various ethnographic accounts.  At a site in central-Wyoming dating to roughly 6000 years ago, we see what I have described as the archaeological expression of a communal rabbit, or in this case jackrabbit hunt.  The zooarchaeological assemblage from this site, 48FR6256 is suggestive of a single, short-term event, namely a communal rabbit drive and provides details on how the animals were processed and utilized.


Flintknapping 101 with Greg Meldrum, professional archaeologist and flintknapper

I have had the pleasure of working as an archeologist throughout the western U.S. for over a decade. While studying at Western State University, I discovered the fascinating world of experimental archeology. Experimental archaeology seeks to interpret artifacts through the reproduction and experimentation of items used by prehistoric people. Through this process, archeologists glean insights into the manufacturing process which translates to a better understanding of artifact assemblages encountered on sites. Join me for a brief flint knapping demonstration, one of the primary skills mastered by indigenous groups across the world.


Wind, Sand, and Ruins: Applications and Feasibility of Aerial Archaeology in Eastern Utah with Jody Patterson of Montgomery Archaeological Consultants

Aerial archaeology is almost as old as human flight itself. Early forays by Charles Lindbergh and others into aerial archaeology in the American Southwest proved popular with the public, but never caught on in professional archaeological circles. In this presentation, we will examine the use of aerial archaeology in North America and reflect my recent misadventures in learning the ropes of aerial archaeology and attempting to apply it in eastern Utah.


Nine Mile Canyon (Virtual) Stewardship is a partnership of the Nine Mile Canyon Coalition, Project Discovery, and the Utah SHPO with help from USU Eastern Prehistoric Museum, the Natural History Museum of Utah, Metcalf Archaeology, and Montgomery Archaeological Consultants. Be sure to visit these fine organizations on the web to learn more about their missions and get involved!