Exploring the past of the Arizona Strip

Joseph Hamblin, son of famed Mormon pioneer Jacob Hamblin, guided Neil Judd on his trip to the Paria Plateau in the 1920s

In 1915, Neil Judd, who became one of the most well-known archaeologists in the Southwest, traveled by train, Model T, horse and buggy, and pack mule to the Arizona Strip, where he spent part of the next five years visiting the region’s archaeological
sites.  During his travels, Judd wrote that he “drew rein at Cane Springs, headquarters of the Grand Canyon Cattle Company (now the Kane Ranch owned by the Trust), for a dinner of canned corn and peas with the cowboys.” Judd’s summary of his findings in 1927 titled Archaeological Observations North of the Rio Colorado is one of the earliest studies of  Arizona Strip archaeology.

Sixty years later a much more intensive look at Strip archaeology came with the publishing of Man, Models, and Management: An Overview of the Archaeology of the Arizona Strip and the Management of Its Cultural Resources.  Co-written by Jeffrey Altschul and Helen Fairley, Man, Models, and Management has been recognized for the past twenty-two years as the definitive study of Arizona Strip archaeology.

Almost twenty-five years after Man, Models, and Management, 120
archaeologists, students, and enthusiasts gathered at Page, Arizona for a
symposium called  Discovering the Archaeology of the Arizona Strip Region, hosted by
the Kaibab Vermilion Cliffs Heritage Alliance.  The symposium focused on what has been learned in the last twenty-five years and to assist with developing a research plan focused on the eastern portion of the Arizona Strip, much of which is encompassed by the Trust’s Kane and Two Mile ranches.

Topics ranged from the early days of ranching by Mormon pioneers to the creation of a GIS data base of the stone projectile points found on the Kaibab Plateau.  Rock art discussions included the protection and management of the rock art in Snake Gulch and documenting rock art below Glen Canyon dam with high-resolution panoramic photography.  The results of recent surveys of several thousand acres looking at land
settlement patterns and agricultural use in the Vermilion Cliffs National
Monument were presented, as were the results of a survey of at-risk cultural
resources in House Rock Valley.

For the past three years, the Heritage Alliance has sponsored a field school based at the Trust’s Two Mile Ranch headquarters.  Posters based on
work done by field school students were presented at the symposium summarizing
work on historic ranching sites, excavations at the West Bench Pueblo, and the
use of domesticated turkeys in prehistoric times.

Helen Fairley, co-author of Man, Models, and Management spoke about
the seminal report and how it might be used as a springboard to launch the new
research effort.  David Wilcox, with the Museum of Northern Arizona, talked about the importance of archaeology on the Arizona Strip and how it fits into the larger picture of Southwestern archaeology and Chris Downum, with Northern
Arizona University, concluded with a moving summary of the importance of
continuing efforts to better understand how people lived during the past
millennia on the spectacular and diverse lands of the Arizona Strip.

Rick Moore

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