Ideas and a report of Day 4 in NM

Now that I have collected so many options for my project I need to find an overall research question to focus my ideas. There are so many traces of movement across this landscape that I am overwhelmed at the moment, and need to find a way to narrow down the ideas. I know that I want to keep the study of different types of movement over the landscape (foot, horse, wagon, train, car etc) as part of the project, so now I need to find a way to be able to talk about all these things, but also have a research focus. I want to talk about the importance of looking at modes of travel over the landscape in the formation of culture, and culture’s impact on the landscape. This is a reciprocal relationship between culture and nature, each influencing the other. So now that I know what I am interested in (the relationship between nature and culture and how travel over the landscape bears out this relationship in archaeological traces) I just need to figure out how to pick the concrete research areas I will go observe in the field. I need to think really hard tonight so that I can have it figured out by tomorrow.

Today I mostly helped work on Kaet’s pit house excavation at the buffalo. Digging in the pit house in the morning was really nice because the side I was working on was totally in shadow and cool, cold even. We started in on the grid, scraping away bit by bit with trowels, and then sweeping the dirt into dust bins and screening the dirt. I was working in Unit 1 (nicknamed Heartfire), the units are 2 meters by 2 meters. I was finding a lot of tar paper/melted rubber material, perhaps part of the roofing Kaet says. On the other side of unit 1 Diane was working on excavating the wood stove, which looks really cool and has a rusted out chimney that has filled with dirt now. Midday I decided I needed to start looking through Corky’s huge binder, and really narrowing down what I’m going to focus on. By next week I want to know what I’m doing each day so that I can go into the field and find my own field data to work from. I know I will be able to do this, but right now I’m worried about how to do this, and it’s making me nervous.

Today I saw that the waterfall is running again! I’m very excited to swim in it soon. I ran into the gorge this morning, and in the evening we all went down to the John Dunn bridge to swim. It felt really good to wash off but cold. We had dinner outside under the trees to the West of the Buffalo building, and watching the sun set over the gorge was amazing. We were visited by the neighbor’s dog Verde, I think she figured out that we eat dinner outside each evening and she comes by to stare at us with sad eyes asking for food (but never gets any). Tomorrow I’m going to go out early in the morning (6 am) to take care of the chickens with Kaet, so I’d better go to bed soon.

Finally, I’ve been thinking a lot about the hot air balloons in the gorge every morning, and their unique way of moving through the gorge. They leave no traces however, so I can’t really use them in my archaeology project. Even though, when I mentioned my thought to Sev he started thinking about the car crashes around the gorge under the Gorge Bridge, most of them suicides (or attempted ones). He wants to survey the cars, which would be very interesting and also uncanny, to write about the bridge and how this form of technology allows all types of new movement, including the suicides. This interests me because most of the forms of movement I’m finding are motivated by a need to survive or improve human life, but in this case movement is used to destroy life. This could be an interesting thread to follow: comparing movement motivated by a wish to sustain life, and movement motivated to end life. I think movement motivated by a wish to CHANGE life could be the more important thought because this is what I personally think is most prevalent, both historically and currently. Everyone is moving about in order to change their life for what they think is better, whether they are seeking something at the end of their journey or they are interested in the journey itself.

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One thought on “Ideas and a report of Day 4 in NM

  1. I like your ideas about movement. It’s hard to decipher the meaning of these movements just as it is hard to decipher your leader’s name. I’m always looking for hidden messages. If you take his first name and spell it backwards “nirves” you come up with something like “nervous”. So then his name becomes “nirves” fowles. What comes to mind are fowls like turkeys or chickens. But certainly your leader can,t be a chicken. he braves the wilds of New Mexico every day. And he can’t be a turkey he after all is competent enough to be running the new buffalo project. So what is the hidden message here? Do nervous fowls have powerful meanings for the Navajo people? What do you think?

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