A collaborative archaeological project involving four local tribes received a prestigious grant to help research the cultural landscape of the Lower Gila River in southwest Arizona.
KAWC’s Stephanie Sanchez reports.
The lower Gila River is rich with petroglyphs, geoglyphs and foot trails-reminders of the ancient life it sustained thousands of years ago.
Aaron Wright is a preservation archaeologist with Archaeology Southwest, a nonprofit conservation organization based in Tucson.
Wright will lead a 3-year study to investigate the cultural landscape of the river using the oral histories and traditions from the Fort Yuma Quechan Indian Tribe, Cocopah Indian Tribe, the Yavapai-Prescott Indian Tribe and the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community.
"These particular four tribes have been arguably underrepresented in ethnohistoric research and just collaborative work with tribes in general," Wright said.
He’ll do that with the help of a $175,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Cocopah Tribal Councilman, Edmund Domingues, looks forward to the collaborative effort which he says will preserve native history for future generations.
"This is very important that we get involved so we can have a say and say yes we want to preserve these," Domingues said, "We also want to support other tribes that have the same initiative which is important to all our native people.”
Former Quechan Tribal President Mike Jackson Sr., shared his support for the project in a letter to Archaeology Southwest.
He says “We see this project as a way for our community to reconnect with ancestral Quechan places from which we have been displaced. These places are all that is left of our ancestors, and they are how we connect with our past and ensure that we continue into the future.”