New Deal Archaeology in the West

From 1933 to 1944, a wide range of archaeological and cultural heritage projects were funded across this country as part of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s New Deal. The results of work east of the Mississippi River are amply documented in other publications. However, little has been reported or synthesized regarding western archaeological work, its role in economic recovery, or its impact on the direction and knowledge of the discipline. This volume shares previously untold stories of New Deal archaeology from across the American West and explores insights into the past revealed by these projects.
Descriptions of New Deal projects and their contributions to our understanding of the past, as well as the stories of those involved—archaeologists, avocationalists, and others—are woven together across the chapters. Also documented are lost or scattered artifacts, records, and ancestors’ remains; incomplete analyses; unpublished reports; inconsistent application of scientific methodology; and the loss of Native sacred sites and traditional lands and lifeways. Authors highlight characteristics that distinguished the American West from the East during the Depression and affected the nature of New Deal projects, including the extent of federal land available in the West, the reliance of sparsely populated areas upon tourism, the presence of large resident Native populations with deep histories, and the wide-ranging degree of existing archaeology infrastructure in each state. This volume demonstrates that despite regional differences, New Deal-funded archaeological and cultural heritage projects created a legacy of knowledge and practice across the nation.

Kelly J. Pool is an archaeologist and principal investigator at Metcalf Archaeological Consultants, Inc. in Eagle, CO.

Mark L. Howe is the cultural resources specialist at the United States Section, International Boundary and Water Commission (USIBWC), in El Paso, TX.

Table of Contents:

List of Figures
List of Tables

1. Introduction: A New Deal for Western Archaeology by Kelly J. Pool and Mark L. Howe
2. Impacts and Legacy of the New Deal on Pacific NorthwestHeritage Preservation by Darby C. Stapp and Robert R. Mierendorf
3. The Advocate, the Avocationalist, and the Academic: A Story of Three Men and the Unlikely Success of New Deal Archaeology in Montana by Nancy Mahoney
4. New Deal Archaeology in Wyoming by Danny N. Walker
5. Repair and Restoration on the Colorado Plateau: Earl Morris and the New Deal in Aztec Ruins National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park by Kelly J. Pool
6. New Deal Archaeology and Anthropology in Utah, 1933–1941 by Steven R. James
7. Desert Digs: New Deal Archaeology in Southern Arizona, 1933–1942 by Todd W. Bostwick and Steven R. James
8. The Legacy of New Deal Programs to the Archaeology of Northern Arizona by Peter J. Pilles Jr. and Jeanne S. Stevens
9. The Lasting Legacy of the Civilian Conservation Corps–Indian Division and the Three-C Site in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico by John D. Schelberg, Thomas C. Windes, and Carla R. Van West
10. Recent Studies of WPA Archaeological Investigations on Ancestral Caddo Sites in East Texas by Timothy K. Perttula
11. The International Boundary Commission and PWA Projects along the U.S.–Mexico Border: Creation of Cultural Heritage Sites during the New Deal by Mark L. Howe
12. Conclusion: How the West Was Dug by Bernard K. Means

List of Contributors

Praise and Reviews:

“This is a fantastic volume that fills a significant gap in the literature and in our understanding of the history of archaeology in the American West. It is really remarkable how poorly documented some of these projects have been until now.”
—Stephen E. Nash, Denver Museum of Nature and Science
“This volume stands as a tribute to the people who worked to preserve and to better understand our national heritage. Federally funded archaeology during the Great Depression had a monumental influence on the practice of archaeology in the United States, and this excellent examination of New Deal archaeology provides an important foundation for appreciating their achievements and contributions.”
—David H. Dye, University of Memphis