Twenty-five impassioned and enthusiastic educators from across the U.S. gathered at Crow Canyon July 17 through August 6 to attend “Bridging Cultures: Diversity and Unity in the Pueblo World,” a summer institute funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
The institute provided an immersive experience for educators to examine concepts related to cultural diversity and unity in the context of one of the oldest persistent cultural groups on the continent: the Pueblo Indians. Through discussions with Pueblo scholars, visits to ancient and modern Pueblo communities, and the study of a variety of books and peer-reviewed journals, the educators learned about how Pueblo culture formed, how it has endured, and how local differences are maintained and simultaneously assimilated into a larger cultural whole.
|NEH educators take part in a hands-on activity designed to help them construct a Pueblo Indian chronology.|
The educators visited important archaeological sites across the Four Corners area, including Mesa Verde National Park, Aztec Ruins National Monument, Bandelier National Monument, Chaco Culture National Historical Park, Sand Canyon Pueblo, and Albert Porter Pueblo. To develop basic knowledge of the archaeological process and how the archaeological record sheds light on the ancient Pueblo world, the group excavated with Crow Canyon archaeologists at the Dillard site and analyzed artifacts at the Center’s lab. At the end of the three-week program, the educators completed a curriculum project related to the institute’s theme.
“Coming here, touring and experiencing the sites with archaeologists and scholars, working on a dig site, and having the Native American scholars with us—it brought the entire experience together,” said Peggy Spurgeon, an educator from Minnesota. “It was a culmination of experiences that I have already shared with my colleagues across the country.”
The educators agreed that their visits to ancient and modern Pueblo communities strengthened their understanding of how Pueblo culture formed and how traditional beliefs are expressed in diverse communities today. The accompaniment of Pueblo scholars was key. “I’ll take back to my classroom the idea and sense of community that our native scholars have portrayed to us and how important their community is,” said New York educator Nicole Coleman.
The institute was codirected by former Crow Canyon Director of Education Elaine Franklin and Crow Canyon Director of American Indian Initiatives Margie Connolly. Crow Canyon Research and Education Chair Mark Varien was a lead faculty member, as were Tessie Naranjo from Santa Clara Pueblo and Joseph Suina from Cochiti Pueblo. Joseph is a member of Crow Canyon’s Board of Trustees and Native American Advisory Group. Tessie also graciously hosted the educators at her home at Santa Clara Pueblo. In addition, archaeologist Tom Windes joined the group at Chaco Canyon and Aztec Ruins, and the entire Crow Canyon research and education staff helped out.
“The scholars taught us how to appreciate the very special place that archaeological sites have in the history of our country,” Peggy said. “The archaeologists, professors, instructors, and writers taught us not what you’d read in a book, but more than that. They answered our questions and accompanied us continually. It was like a graduate course in a short amount of time.”
In addition to all the information they absorbed in the three-week period, the educators came away with something more—an appreciation for the special place that is Crow Canyon. Virginia educator Lisa Gibson summarized, “Crow Canyon is a place I can find some quiet, a stillness where I can really listen to what the land is saying because, after all, the land itself holds memories.”
Crow Canyon expresses deep gratitude to our supporters and the National Endowment for the Humanities for its funding of this year’s institute for educators. NEH will support another institute at Crow Canyon in 2012; information will be available at www.crowcanyon.org early next year.