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SOUTHWEST—The Fetterman Archaeological Preserve is the subject of a new documentary funded through a grant from the New Mexico Humanities Council. This 20-acre preserve in central New Mexico was donated by longtime Conservancy member and archaeologist Jerry Fetterman in 2021. The property contains deeply buried archaeological features associated with early Ancestral Pueblo occupations, as well as a historic component related to the old agricultural and mining town of Riley. 

Jerry Fetterman conducted an archaeological survey of this property in 2005. The survey revealed rich archaeological deposits across the landscape dating back hundreds of years. Two Ancestral Pueblo occupations dating to the Pueblo I (A.D. 750–950) and Pueblo II (A.D. 950–1150) periods were discovered. Pithouse depressions and stone masonry were observed, as well as two large middens containing numerous pottery sherds and stone tools.  

Some historic features on the property consist of a corral, stone foundations, and a segment of the old Riley-Belen Road dating between 1900 and 1920. This homestead was likely connected to Riley (originally named Santa Rita in the 1890s). Riley was a town that once contained dozens of adobe homes and fruit orchards, but has since gone dry. The nearby river that once supported these farms was significantly diminished after a water diversion project in the 1950s, forcing the near abandonment of the town. Today, only one original resident remains. 

This project marks the debut of The Archaeological Conservancy’s new digital outreach coordinator, Susan Bowdoin, who joined the organization in June of this year. Susan and the team from the Southwest regional office visited the preserve in early October to begin filming.  The documentary will detail the archaeology at the site, featuring interviews with a local historian and the last remaining resident of Riley. 

The film will be available on our website and YouTube channel, and an official release date will be announced by the end of this year.