Summary of Crow Canyon’s 2022 Annual Meeting

Posted November 2, 2022

Crow Canyon’s Annual Meeting was live-streamed on Zoom and FacebookLive on Saturday, October 15, 2022 at 10:00 a.m. MDT. Click here to view the full recording on Crow Canyon’s YouTube channel.

Chairman Manuel Heart from the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe opened our meeting with a blessing to center our hearts and minds around a successful event and an extended prayer for our families, neighbors, communities, elders, and all creations.

The Annual Meeting began with a moment of gratitude from Liz Perry, Crow Canyon’s President and CEO, to Crow Canyon’s staff, Indigenous leaders and partners, Board of Trustees, and supporters who make our work possible to create change in the world. It is with the support of Crow Canyon’s community that breathes life to our efforts in creating impactful, relevant, mutually beneficial opportunities for our wide community of learners.

2023 marks Crow Canyon’s 40th anniversary. Goals for next year include the celebration of our research and education milestones, and honoring the role our Indigenous partners and collaborators have made, and showing appreciation to our wide community of learners. We will host a staff appreciation event in the spring, collect memories through a survey to help celebrate Crow Canyon’s impact on the world, and host a public conference that celebrates the 40th anniversary milestone, October 11–15, 2023. The conference features Joy Harjo, Muscogee Nation, Poet Laureate (2019–2022), educational panel discussions, experiential activities and demonstrations, as well as local field trips addressing contemporary issues facing Native communities, and more. We will take time for reflection on the changes in research and education, while evaluating activities to ensure that our work is relevant to present challenges, impactful to the world, and mutually beneficial for our Indigenous partners in the next 40 years.

Dr. Susan Ryan, Chief Mission Officer, highlighted two programs — the Summer Institute for teachers funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and the Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) College Field School funded in part by the National Science Foundation.

The goal of the NEH Summer Institute was to embark on a collaborative, multivocal, place-based investigation of human migrations and social complexity during the 12th century A.D. The inclusion of Indigenous tradition and Western scientific knowledges contributed to the development of original lesson plans that teachers, and subsequently their students, could apply to their classrooms on a topic that is relevant to societies across the globe. The NEH educators came from a variety of subjects, including science, history, humanities, and geography.

– Out of 76 applicants, 23 were selected to participate

– On average, educators had 13.4-years of teaching experience

– On average, the educators teach 161 students per year

– This was the first NEH program for 70% of the participants

– The Majority of educators teach high school, followed by middle school and elementary school

– Educators represented a variety of subjects, including science, history, humanities, and geography

The project team consisted of five Crow Canyon staff members, Susan Ryan, Jeremy Grundvig, Ben Bellorado, Tyson Hughes, Kellam Throgmorton, in addition to Josie Chang-Order, a former Crow Canyon staff member and current School Programs Manager for History Colorado in Denver.

One of the most impactful aspects of the Summer Institute was the multivocal approach to understanding past and present cultures. Three prestigious scholars, including, Theresa Pasqual (Acoma), Lyle Balenquah (Hopi), and Rebecca Hammond (Ute Mountain Ute), provided traditional cultural knowledge that vastly expanded our understanding of human migrations. While visiting ancestral community centers in the southern, middle, and northern San Juan region, participants discussed push-pull factors and the timing leading up to migration events, as well as the effects of coalescence and depopulation.

At Crow Canyon’s campus, participants engaged in STEM-related learning modules within the discipline of archaeology, including data collection in the laboratory and in the field relating to the Northern Chaco Outliers Project. Working in teams using an online distance learning platform, educators developed unique lesson plans based on Institute themes. In the process, educators exchanged pedagogy, methods, resources, and built relationships that support their professional growth for years to come. The lesson plans serve as valuable resources that include first-hand cultural narratives and have the potential to reach a broad community of learners throughout the school year. To further extend the impact, these lessons will be posted on the Crow Canyon website so that teachers across the world can have access to free, open-sourced, culturally appropriate, relevant, and impactful material to use in their classrooms.

“Offering experiential, place-based, multivocal lessons provide educators with authentic experiences and resources so they are better equipped to teach cultural competency, combat racism, and provide more well-rounded understandings of the past to help problem-solve issues facing societies today.” —Dr. Susan Ryan, Chief Mission Officer

“This is not my first NEH and this is definitely the best one I have gone to. This is a special place full of special people. I was impressed over and over again. The important thing is I’m now bursting with information and resources for my students.” —Timothy O.

“Hearing perspectives from Hopi and Ute representatives, archaeologists, and teachers helps me to better Understand and navigate ethical and social justice issues in my own work and life. Reflecting on the lectures and discussions we had at Crow Canyon make me feel more prepared and confident to use teaching techniques and subject matter that is culturally appropriate, scientifically accurate, up to date, and meets teachers’ needs and expectations.” —Anna A.

“My perspective on the concepts of movement and migration have also shifted. The understanding of large-scale migration as not a positive or negative but a crucial part of a peoples’ story and process of becoming what they are today has forced me to reflect on the value judgments I often subconsciously assign to events in the past.” —Meera M.

“This was a wonderful experience. Beyond all the learning I did, I also left with new materials and lesson plans I will use this year with my students. I also found this to be a healing space after two years of pandemic teaching and all its related tolls. I truly appreciated the inquiry-based approach used by all experts involved in the program.” —Nate R.

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) College Field School engaged 10 students from underrepresented communities over the course of seven weeks. These students are the next generation of professions, tribal historic preservation officers, educators, and community leaders! One of the most impactful aspects of the field school was the multivocal approach to understanding Indigenous cultures in the past and present. Four prestigious Native Scholars in Residence, Noah Collins, Mowana Lomaomvaya, Noah Kootswatewa, and Justin Lund, provided traditional cultural knowledge that vastly increased our understanding of Indigenous approaches to collaborative research, mutually beneficial projects, trust-building, and the co-creation of knowledge. Within the framework of the Northern Chaco Outliers Project, students, scholars, and staff worked together on STEM-based learning objectives, such as lab analysis, survey, and mapping, that are essential skills for future success in cultural resource management. Research themes included, human-environment relationships, social inequality, the role of community centers, and identity formation.

Student research has regional, national, and global impacts. By working together in teams, students produce original research that is presented in the form of a final project during field school, as well as presentations at conferences and colloquiums hosted by colleges and universities. Participation in the field school provides career development with authentic data collection, and preparing data for professional audiences. Students utilized inferences generated from past human behaviors to create a better understanding of the principles that govern culture change worldwide, and to address issues relevant to today’s societies, providing critical information to guide future policy-making.

Crow Canyon’s American Indian Initiatives (AII) Manager and Educator, Rebecca Hammond, provided an update on the summer’s AII Internships. Ritchie Sahneyha (Hopi) contributed to ongoing research as part of the Pueblo Farming Project, and conducted flotation studies and lab techniques, providing important training opportunities in understanding the archaeological processes. At the Haynie site, Ritchie focused on architectural stabilization techniques that can be implemented in future cultural preservation projects . By engaging in experiential, place-based education programs, Ritchie lent his personal knowledge and expertise that helped students connect with their observations and understanding of past and present cultures. By joining the Cultural Explorations team and cultural advisors from the Hopi mesas, Ritchie connected with local ancestral sites and landscapes, inspiring a deeper understanding of his own cultural history. “I leave here fully motivated to pursue my goals and fulfill my dream to work for my people and do something I enjoy.” —Ritchie Sahneyha

Emerson McDaniel (Mescalero Apache, Cherokee Nation, Wolf Clan) contributed to a Native-authored library. One of Emery’s favorite experiences was visiting the Ute Mountain Ute Tribal Park with Rebecca Hammond, the Cultural Explorations team, and cultural advisors from the Hopi mesas. Connecting with ancestral landscapes that are managed by tribal nations provided a lens into cultural resource management and stewardship. Emery’s work in compiling a library archive of Native-authored resources and generating an online list of Indigenous resources expanded their knowledge and awareness of opportunities for charitable giving, career development, and personal and professional growth.

Kellam reported on highlights from the Haynie site, which included the discovery of a large oversized kiva associated with the west great house. Over the course of the field season, and with assistance from College Field School students, NEH educators, REU college field students, and interns, the field crew gained a better understanding of structures beneath the surface. New to Crow Canyon’s programming this year was a survey at Hawkins Preserve. In partnership with the Cortez Cultural Center, participants in the Archaeology Research Program embarked on a non-invasive method of conducting archaeology in a public landscape. Within the discipline of archaeology, there are a variety of methods we use to understand the past, such as excavation, survey, and lab. Survey teaches us a lot about surface deposits and temporal relationships and by working with our Indigenous partners we can better understand the connections to landscape and engage in discussions about social identity, colonial impacts, culture change, resource management, stewardship, protection, and education.

Ricky Lightfoot, former president and current Chairman on the Board of Trustees summarized Crow Canyon’s financial portfolio. Ricky shared the 2021 audited financials demonstrating a strong financial position. Our projections for the end of 2022 are expected to meet our fundraising goals and operating needs. Crow Canyon is currently supported by 43% in charitable gifts, 35% in investment distributions, 14% in grants, and 8% in program revenue. Crow Canyon’s robust investment strategy and algorithms helps smooth out the ups and downs in the market and sustain our operations over the long term.

Ricky presented a tribute to Mark Varien, Executive Vice President of the Research Institute, who is retiring at the end of the year after 35-years of service. Mark began working at Crow Canyon in 1987. Mark’s contributions to research and education projects throughout the decades helped advance our knowledge and understanding of human-environment relationships, community development, social impacts, and residential mobility through time. Mark’s approach to interdisciplinary, multivocal projects advanced our ability to address big questions with large, complex datasets.

Click here to view the full meeting on Crow Canyon’s YouTube channel.