Looking Back at 2015, Support Us into 2016

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TAC CEO Mark Michel recounts the saga of The Hopewell site’s preservation in front on an NPS interpretive sign at the site. Photo Bliss Bruen/The Archaeological Conservancy.
TAC CEO Mark Michel recounts the saga of The Hopewell site’s preservation in front on an NPS interpretive sign at the site. Photo Bliss Bruen/The Archaeological Conservancy.

This past year has been another tremendously successful year for The Archaeological Conservancy. Because of our members and supporters we have preserved more than 21 sites from damage and destruction so far this year – sites that otherwise might have been dug up by looters, razed for development, or simply damaged by neglect. We are proud of this accomplishment. We simply couldn’t have accomplished so much without such unwavering support. Thank you!

Today, this work faces many more challenges than it did 35 years ago. Development continues to grow, demand for artifacts on the black market increases every year with the rise of internet sales, and environmental threats continue to endanger sites that aren’t properly stabilized.  Your tax-deductible year-end gift of $25, $50, $100 or more will help provide us with the resources to identify, negotiate and acquire sites throughout the country.

In 2015, we have brought our total of permanently protected sites to over 495 sites in 45 states. We have long term relationships with archaeologists, tribal leaders, and landowners. We work in 5 regions, covering the United States.

Cypress trees along the Albemarle Sound.
Cypress trees along the Albemarle Sound near Preserved Site.

In the Northeast, we continue our efforts to preserve sites of Native cultures. This region has a rich heritage of occupation, including the various tribes of the Iroquois, Algonquin, and Ritwan language groups.

In the Southeast, we’ve stepped up our efforts to save mound sites threatened by looters and modern agricultural practices.

In the Midwest, we’re aggressively pursuing sites built by the mysterious moundbuilders. Because urban sprawl is an increasing problem here, we spend a lot of time negotiating with developers.

In the Southwest, we continue our 35 years of acquiring important Anasazi, Hohokam, Caddo and other sites.

In the West, while most of the coast is already developed, we are hard at work on the many sites that remain in the interior regions.

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Read More of Our 2015 Regional TAC Updates.

There are 3 BIG steps that we take in order to turn an unprotected archaeological site into a safe and permanent preserve, each and every time – over 21 times this year alone.

Southwest Regional Director Jim Walker Examining the site
Southwest Regional Director Jim Walker Examining the site

First, we identify the most significant sites that need our help.

We talk to every state’s historic preservation office to find out which archaeological sites they think are the most important and the most threatened. We also contact local archaeologists and university researchers to get their opinions. And often, people call us if they discover artifacts or ruins on their property. Then we spend time visiting each site and developing a plan for how to best acquire and preserve it. This process often takes months and requires extensive staff time and travel.

Second, we negotiate with the landowner.

This, too, can take months or even years. Our regional directors and field representatives must travel to meet with the property owners and work out terms that are beneficial for both the owner and the Conservancy. There are a number of projects that we have been working on since the Conservancy was founded in 1980. We’ll keep working on these sites until they are permanently preserved.

Finally, we manage our preserves.

Our regional directors and field representatives regularly monitor and maintain each site, ensuring they remain safeguarded from looting, vandalism, erosion and weather. We also train and keep in close contact with volunteers who patrol our preserves and let us know of any problems.

Washington University in St. Louis Kathryn M. Bruder Scholars clearing our fence line.
Amazing Washington University in St. Louis Kathryn M. Bruder Scholars volunteer clearing our fence line.

It is your year-end gift for the General Fund that enables us to complete the essential groundwork to locate sites and manage them as permanent archaeological preserves.This year, the General Fund was instrumental in the preservation of many invaluable sites, including:

  • Manzanares Pueblo, located near Lamy, New Mexico in the Galisteo Basin, is a complex of adobe and masonry structures that was occupied during the Pueblo III Coalition period (A.D. 1200-1325). Built around a central plaza, the main architectural unit was two stories high and may have had as many as 250 rooms. West of the large roomblock is a series of smaller architectural units that, with the main unit, forms a complex community center. The site extends over two five-acre residential lots. We continue to negotiate with the other landowner for the remaining five acres.
  • Steel Earthworks, located in south central Ohio, contains the highest concentration of small earthworks so far discovered in Ohio. This 81-acre site is the Conservancy’s sixth large Hopewell preserve in the area. From about 100 B.C. to A.D. 500, the Hopewell produced massive earthworks. Unfortunately, many sites in the region have been destroyed by modern farming and urban sprawl. Steel Earthworks is unusual in that one circular earthwork remains visible despite decades of plowing. It measures 300 feet in diameter with an interior ditch and earthen wall. In 2007, a magnetometer survey revealed nine more earthworks with no surface traces in addition to the visible earthwork and one known from a 19th century map.
  • In 1717 Fort Ouiatenon was established by the French as a fur-trading post on the Wabash River opposite a large village of the Wea. The fort was the first European settlement in what is now Indiana. By 1730 a number of Algonquin-speaking tribes loosely affiliated with the Miami, including the Kickapoo, the Mascouten and the Piankashaw, had established villages outside the fort. The fortunes of the Natives waxed and waned – mostly waned – as the fort passed through French, British and American hands. The villages were finally destroyed by a punitive expedition of Kentucky militia in 1791. The fort itself was abandoned as a military post in 1762, and Euro-American settlers had relocated to more secure locations by the 1780s. The site of the fort is owned by the Tippecanoe County Historical Association (TCHA). In 2014 the Conservancy and TCHA joined forces to try to acquire the adjacent land containing the Native villages. They were the high bidder at auction for a 56-acre tract.  Last month they completed the purchase of the 45-acre Sutter tract and have their sights on an 80-acre tract. The State of Indiana has provided financial assistance, but the partners must still provide the balance.

These are just a few of the sites that you helped the Conservancy preserve in 2015 with resources from the General Fund. Explore Other Recent Acquisitions. Next year, we hope to save even more.Without your support for the General Fund, we could never hope to save sites like these.

Elizabeth Irwin of the University of Alabama Museums, Jessica Crawford, Southeast regional director for the Conservancy, Matt Gage, director of the Office of the University of Alabama Museums, and Howell Poole, Jr., president of the Bank of Moundville, discuss the significance of the Asphalt Company Mound during a recent site visit.
Elizabeth Irwin of the University of Alabama Museums, Jessica Crawford, Southeast
regional director for the Conservancy, Matt Gage, director of the Office of the University
of Alabama Museums, and Howell Poole, Jr., president of the Bank of Moundville,
discuss the significance of the Asphalt Company Mound during a recent site visit.

Additionally, Our magazine, American Archaeology (Launched in 1997), not only lets our supporters know what we’re doing but also presents the research breakthroughs, persistent puzzles, and unique personalities making news in the field of archaeology; providing easily accessible North American archaeology to the general public.

It’s your generosity that keeps our cultural legacy alive. I know that the Conservancy is just one of many organizations asking for your help. That’s why I hope that as you consider your year-end giving, you’ll feel that the preservation of this great nation’s past is one effort that merits your support.

Wishes for a Happy and Prosperous New Year,

Mark Michel,  TAC President

A group photo of all involved with the management plan:
A group photo of All Invovled in Donating, Protecting and Preserving a New Site in Our Western Region: Left Archaeologists Deanna Commons, Laura Murphy, Cory Wilkins, and Donor Jeanne Jokumsen.

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