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Save History Stories

Protecting Archaeological Sites from the Heart: Mae Burnette talks about the ancestors who lived at the site and their understanding of the landscape. She explains how she thinks of archaeological sites as homes that protect their inhabitants—and how we need to protect these ancient homes and the teachings they can share with us.

Protection and Prayer Before Visiting Archaeological Sites

Ramon Riley discusses how respecting the land is crucial for survival and good health. Smudging and other protection strategies can protect those who visit or work at sites.  Pre-project blessings set the tone and create balance so the crew can go into work with a good mindset.

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Restoring Balance After Destruction

Both archaeologists and looters can be referred to as ch’ndn in Apache—witches or devils who disturb the possessions of deceased persons. Archaeology doesn’t have to be destructive, especially when Ndee cultural values inform protection and preservation at sites. Repairing land disturbed by looters restores balance and protects Nígosdzán (Mother Earth).

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Interview with Frankie J. Gilmore of the Navajo Nation

Frankie J. Gilmore, artist, and member of the Navajo Nation discusses his feelings about the desecration of ancestral places, the importance of education to counteract looting, and how listening can lead to greater understanding.

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The Power of Ancestral Sites: Comments from Verlon Jose, Tohono O’odham Nation

When more than 100 ancient footprints were discovered in a 3,000-year-old agricultural field in Tucson, Arizona, Tribal members of all ages visited the archaeological site. In this video, Verlon Jose, former Vice Chairman of the Tohono O’odham Nation, expresses how these places confirm traditional teachings, encourage multi-generational learning, and stimulate conversations in the community. (Videography and editing by Bicktorious Media LLC. Additional video courtesy of Pima County. Learn more here).

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“The Meaning of the Past”: Hopi Migration Traditions and Archaeology with Lyle Balenquah

Lyle Balenquah, Hopi archaeologist, ethnographer, and educator, discusses how the past contributes meaning to the present. For Indigenous youth, firsthand experiences of sites on ancestral lands can help build a better understanding of where they came from and where they’re going.

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“They Are Still Here”: Hopi Migration Traditions and Archaeology with Lyle Balenquah

Lyle Balenquah, Hopi archaeologist, ethnographer, and educator, tells a story about a surprise visit from his paternal grandmother and uncle while he worked at Wupatki National Monument. He shares some of his grandmother’s observations about the site. “This is who we are—this is who you are.”

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Visit With Respect

Filmed at Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and the Pueblo of Acoma, this video features five Native Americans of different generations and affiliations talking about their connections to prehistoric ruins and ways that we can visit them appropriately. 

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No Stone Unturned

This short film highlights the Choctaw community's long history of advocacy for their deceased loved ones and their dedication to advocate on their behalf since the passing of NAGPRA regulations 30 years ago. 

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Saving the Sacred

Discover how rapid urbanization and the looting of artifacts for sale on illegal markets have threatened to erase the long histories of the Koi and Habematolel Pomo tribes.

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