Welcome to the First Archaeological Site in the U.S.

After an eight hour drive from Ventura County, California to Coolidge, Arizona, I was instantly greeted by the 103 degree weather and the beautiful Sonoran Desert that extends into the distance for miles. After several email exchanges, I was honored to meet the park’s Archaeologist Technician, and the rest of the friendly staff at Casa Grande National Monument who I will be closely working with for the summer. This week, I was given multiple tours around the park, where I was able to familiarize myself with the history, ecology, and culture of the park. I even got a chance to become a Junior Park Ranger!

I shadowed and assisted park rangers with the restoration of historic artifacts found on site, this goes to show that this park not only holds pre-historic history but also history from the late 1600’s to early 1900’s. This week I also joined the Sonoran Desert Network (SODN) to monitor burrow owls within the country side of the park, which is also rich in artifacts. I saw several pottery fragments, a stone tool, a piece of a metate, and even a shell (which indicates trading activity) all displayed on the surface.

I recently graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.S. in Society and Environment and a minor in Anthropology. My interests range from geology, archaeology, ecology to paleontology, that being said you can only imagine how hard I have been nerding out with the Park Rangers. My research interests include indigenous knowledge and practices in relation to environmental conservation. I am a strong advocate for inclusion in the environmental field and the outdoors, I believe that is important to give diverse groups a platform to have our narratives shared and bring resilience into a field has been historically predominately of European descent.

Ever since I can remember, I have always been intrigued by history, the history that was not exactly taught in school but the history that one read in books or saw in National Geographic documentaries outside of school. Learning about the history before Columbus “discovered” the Americas always grabbed my attention and I always questioned why these topics were not taught in k-12 just as much as we were taught about early European settlers or our “founding fathers”. As I intern at Casa Grande National Monument this summer, I am excited to take part in the preservation of a national monument and its surrounding natural habitats, which not only holds history but also serves as a contemporary spiritual space for local community members to be able share their knowledge passed down through generations and challenge historical European interpretations. 

As my first week is coming to an end and I continue to settle in and acclimate to the drastic change of weather, I am overwhelmed with joy and excitement to take on different project opportunities, collaborate with other parks and LHIP interns, travel and attend several workshops, and continue to learn everyday from this awesome opportunity!


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