The Concow Basin is located in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, approximately fifteen miles east of Chico, California, and it’s the ancestral lands of the Konkow Maidu tribe. The archaeological site Butte-961, an ancient village that dates to about A.D. 1500 sits in the basin. This date is based on the analysis of projectile points that were found there, and more research is needed to determine its precise age. The village is approximately twelve acres in size, and associated cultural resources have been found over a much larger area.
Butte-961 was originally recorded in 1987 by Anthony Salzarulo and Robert Johnson, residents of the town of Concow. Salzarulo is of Maidu ancestry, and he has visited the site many times. The Salzarulo and Johnson site record identifies seven bedrock mortar outcrops with several hundred mortar holes. The site record also identifies “several dozen” circular housepit depressions in three clusters. A much larger depression is located outside of the village that is thought to have been a ceremonial structure known as a dancehouse. Whereas most of the circular depressions are roughly six feet in diameter, the dancehouse depression is forty-one feet in diameter and approximately five feet deep. There’s also mention of projectile points, pestles, side-notched pebbles, and soapstone vessel fragments in the site record.
Conservancy member Jerry Fetterman has donated a thirty-five-acre parcel in Colorado’s Montezuma Valley that contains significant archaeological resources. The parcel, which has been named the Yellowjacket Canyon Preserve, is located by the rim of Yellowjacket Canyon, and it borders Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. It is a short distance away from three other Conservancy preserves: the Joe Ben Wheat site complex, Yellowjacket Pueblo, and Albert Porter Pueblo. The Yellowjacket Canyon Preserve is the Conservancy’s twenty-third Colorado preserve, and eighteenth in the Montezuma Valley.
The Conservancy has obtained a thirty-five acre parcel northwest of Cortez, Colorado, containing Shields Pueblo, a large Ancestral Puebloan site with primary occupation dates of A.D. 1050 to 1300, and an extended occupation dating back to at least A.D. 775.
Shields Pueblo is part of a concentration of prehistoric sites, some of which have been protected since 1889, when the land they were on was excluded from homesteading by the federal government because of the significance of their cultural resources. That action, which preceded the Antiquities Act of 1906, represents the first time the federal government set aside archaeological sites for protection.
Shields Pueblo is particularly important because it was a community center for this region, and it was occupied for centuries by a number of different prehistoric groups. In the mid-1900s local residents like Clifford Chappell conducted excavations at the site. Chappell, a forest ranger and avid amateur archaeologist from Dolores, mostly worked on sites on private farmland around Dolores and Cortez, and he kept meticulous notes on his discoveries. Several vessels recovered from Shields are part of the Chappell collection, now curated at the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument Visitor’s Center and Museum (formerly the Anasazi Heritage Center) located in Dolores. A burial found at Shields contained a copper bell that was manufactured in Mexico.