Arizona Project Archaeology wins Arizona Governor's Heritage Preservation Honor Award

Story by Brooke Wheeler, Management and Program Analyst

Arizona Project Archaeology (AZPA), an affiliate of BLM’s National Project Archaeology program, was awarded the 2021 Arizona Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award in recognition of nine short educational videos featuring federal and state cultural heritage sites including two BLM-AZ sites. Each year the Arizona Preservation Foundation, the State Historic Preservation Office, and Arizona State Parks presents the Arizona Governor’s Heritage Preservation Honor Award to individuals, businesses, organizations, and/or projects in recognition of outstanding achievements in preserving Arizona’s prehistoric and historic resources. Comprised of federal and state partners, museums, and volunteers, Arizona Project Archaeology promotes cultural heritage preservation, develops archeological education curricula; offers professional development workshops for educators; engages federal, state, tribal, and local partners to promote archaeological education; and supports formal and informal educators in their archaeology education efforts.
 

Arizona Project Archaeology Team: Nicole Armstrong-Best, Jeri Meeks, Brooke Wheeler, Jenny Works
Arizona Project Archaeology Team: Nicole Armstrong-Best, Jeri Meeks, Brooke Wheeler, Jenny Works

In coordination with Arizona State Parks and Trails videographer Carlos Ramirez, BLM-AZ highlighted two BLM Yuma Field Office cultural heritage sites at Yellow Dog Mine and Granite Mountain Cabin. Scott Mcfall, Yuma Field Office Archaeologist Technician and BLM-AZ Volunteer, Youth, and Environmental Education State Lead, Brooke Wheeler, worked together with Carlos to create these critically important educational videos. Wheeler explains “This video series was a true collaboration between BLM and various state and local partners helping Arizona students and the public to value and understand the importance of cultural heritage sites and develop a strong sense of stewardship. We all came together with an understanding that when we work together, we can make a remarkable positive impact on the lands and resources we manage and help the communities we serve.”
 

Scott McFall, Yuma Field Office Archaeologist Technician at Yellow Dog Mine
Scott McFall, Yuma Field Office Archaeologist Technician at Yellow Dog Mine

As part of AZPA’s mission to teach archaeological education in the classroom, each video corresponds to a topic within Project Archaeology’s Investigating Shelter curriculum that will be used in classrooms across Arizona. The curriculum uses archaeological inquiry to foster an understanding of past and present cultures; improve social studies and science education; and enhance citizenship education to help preserve our archaeological legacy. Jeri Meeks, AZPA’s program manager, explains, “These short but engaging videos not only speak to the history of the site and the indigenous and past peoples who lived there but talk about how archaeologists - and we - can understand more about our state’s history and heritage using inquiry-based thinking.”

old cabin built with large blocks of granite of various colors
Granite Mountain cabins

The videos are very important because they help to educate people about the value of stewardship and preservation of archaeological sites.  “I think, in general, not a lot of people know what it is that archaeologists do - most people I talk to still think I dig up dinosaurs!” said Mcfall. “Educating people on the process of archaeology itself is crucial to public understanding of our responsibilities in protecting historical sites. The more people understand this, the less likely they will be to go out and collect artifacts from undocumented sites or damage known sites in the hopes of finding treasure.”

The Arizona Project Archaeology video series can be found on YouTube.