New Mexico

New-Mexico-MountainsNew Mexico’s State Register of Cultural Properties has an addition to its registry. The Hurd family home, belonging to artists Peter Hurd and his wife Henriette Wyeth-Hurd is a 40-acre compound that adds to the state’s history and architecture. Anthropology graduate student in the College of Arts and Sciences in New Mexico, Brittany Porter recommended the Hurd House and Studios to the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee, because of the history and significance the artists have made to New Mexico.

Porter was able to study the Peter Hurd and Henriette Wyeth-Hurd papers in the Archives of American Art as she received grants from both the Archaeology Society of New Mexico and NMSU College of Arts and Sciences.

According to NMSU Anthropology Professor Emerita, Beth O’Leary, “Porter is the first NMSU student to present a nomination to the committee and have it approved before she had completed her master’s degree.”

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The Reincarnation of Idaho Salmon

coho-salmonSalmon – that was feared to have been instinct in Idaho – may be making a comeback. Clearwater River opened a fishing season for coho salmon, offering people the opportunity to try to catch what has become an extinct fish. It seems that the tribe of Nez Perce has managed to save and restore Idaho salmon with its coho program.

What happened was, the dams from the 1900s blocked the pathway of fish into the Clearwater River Basin, and then when more dams were added the amount of coho from the Snake River continued to lessen. So much so that between 1984 and 1990 only 12 adult coho crossed from the Lower Granite Dam and then from 1991-1996, none at all returned, thus making most believe the coho was now extinct from the area.

But then all of a sudden, in 1997, 840 adult cohos returned, with fewer the next year. But by 2003, that figure had gone up to 1,135. Then, five years ago, cohos that returned were spawned and supplemented with eggs from the Columbia.

This year, the number has exploded to 15,000, enabling Idaho to open a sport fishing season, giving credit to the tribe that has been supportive of the program.

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Impact of Anthropological Research on Humankind

getting-fitA study published in Pediatrics (the Official Journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics) has shown that if school kids don’t move around enough it could affect their brains as well as their waistlines. According to kinesiology professor at the University of Illinois, Charles Hillman, “if you consider the anthropology of humankind, we were designed to move.”

Hillman’s study showed that kids aged between 7 and 9 who ran around for at least 70 minutes a day, had improved thinking skills (especially when it came to multitasking) than those who didn’t. There were two types of data used: one, when kids were engaged in activities and the other, a brain scan.

Another study took this theory even further. Researchers from Oregon State University (OSU) found that kids with autism are less likely to move around than their non-autistic peers. In this study it was found that they spent 50 minutes less a day engaged in moderate physical activity, with 70 minutes more each day of sitting. What was positive about this study was the finding that kids with and without autism had similar fitness abilities in all areas except for strength. It seems that the kids with autism just need to be given similar opportunities such as adaptive physical education programs. As Megan MacDonald, assistant professor at OSU said, “anything we can do to help encourage children with autism to be more active is beneficial.”

So because historically we move less these days – largely due to lack of need – it is important to find modern ways of integrating exercise into our daily lives. And there is no better way to start this than with education and children.

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Human Population “Explosion”

population-explosionWhat do anthropologists do about the population explosion? What are the current statistics indicating? This article will examine the current growth in population, the anticipated continued explosion and how such growth has affected humans since the Industrial Revolution.

Since 2011, there have been approximately seven billion humans on our planet. By 2050, anthropologists and scientists believe this figure will have escalated to 10 billion. While on one hand this is really good news – because it means that people are living longer due to improved healthcare and farming practices – on the other hand, it leads to an escalation in greenhouse gas emissions and fewer resources. In terms of the latter issue, many argue that it is not the population explosion that is to blame for this, but rather a huge rise in consumption. In other words, there is too much global inequality.

To address these problems, Dr. Tim Jones who wrote Future Agenda, believes that our biggest challenge is to develop cities that will address what rapid growth means. He explained this as follows:

“Hong Kong and Paris are good examples where densities are key to success. They are seen as successful cities. For example, just 5% of Hong Kong’s personal income is spent on transportation whereas in Houston it is 20% because everyone drives such huge distances commuting. Paris, with its six- and seven-storey housing, open spaces and street-based cafe culture is a model to aspire to. The Japanese are also role models when it comes to living densities. We must aspire to be like them. For example, we can’t let China shoot past Japan and attempt to live like the Americans.”

But is this a new phenomenon? Since the population explosion started around 2,000 years ago, Oxford College Associate Anthropology Professor Aaron Stutz has established archaeological and demographic data to indicate when humans thrived.

“The Industrial Revolution and public health improvements were proximate reasons that more people lived longer. If you dig further in the past, however, the data suggest that a critical threshold of political and economic organisation set the stage 1,500 to 2,000 years ago, around the start of the Common Era. ‘The resulting political-economic balance was the tipping point for economies of scale – It created a range of opportunities enabling more people to get resources, form successful families and generate enough capital to transfer to the next generation.”

So what has happened is that:

“Humans have used up the natural resources the world can supply in a year in less than eight months, campaigners warned last month. The world has now reached ‘Earth Overshoot Day,’ the point in the year when humans have exhausted supplies.”

So this theory supports the one above that it is not the population growth per se that is causing potential earth problems, but the human consumption in certain corners of the earth. In fact, human population explosion is good and indicative of enhancements in health care and farming practices, but humans need to be respectful and there needs to be enhanced global equality in this regard.

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Understanding US Society Through Wildlife

birdfestUpcoming in Ridgefield is the Birdfest and Bluefest Nature Festival. For those interested in US society and culture and wants to learn about it through the country’s wildlife, mark down October 4-5th in your diaries.

Taking place at the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, the festival will have activities for the whole family. Indeed, as director of Friends of the Ridgefield Wildlife Refuge, Sarah Hill pointed out, “Birdfest is the perfect time for families to experience everything this great region offers – its diverse wildlife, scenic beauty and rich cultural heritage.” Those attending will be able to view sandhill cranes flying in and out of their night roost in a special sanctuary.

Birdfest is also the only time all are welcome to check out this area that features a ton of great wildlife. Indeed, viewing the wildlife has become increasingly popular at the festival over the last few years. Understanding US wildlife is often crucial to gaining a deeper insight into US society and culture. If we trust what D. A. Poole, former Wildlife Society President said, then we will really make an effort to get to know our country’s wildlife. He argued: “the future of fish and wildlife depends as much, if not more, on understanding the social, behavioral, and economic habits of man as it does on knowing the habits of the animal.”

At this festival, there will also be bird, plant and nature tours and presentations given by experts in the region. One topic discussed at the length will be Southwest Washington’s unique ecoregion, with a special focus this year on the Belted King Fisher.

Those who want to discover more about US society will be able to do so through archeologist-led walks following in the footsteps of Native Americans and Lewis and Clark to interesting sites such as a Cathlapotle plankhouse replica hand-crafted using ancient techniques and tools and a tour of the Kiwa Trail.

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Alaskan Anthropology

Denbigh-Flint-ComplexThe Alaska Anthropology Association recently focused on ancient sites throughout northern and western parts of the state through its yearly month-long festivities. The theme of the event was the Denbigh Flint Complex – a pre-Eskimo archaeological culture of North America, uncovered in1948 in Iyatayet, Alaska. Typical to the Denbigh complex – that predates 2500 BC – is small flaked blades; small, chipped side and end blades; burins; scrapers; knives; and points of ancient American types.

The Denbigh people were distant ancestors of modern Inupiat. They were technologically-minded, founding new lands that established what was needed for the next four millennia of Arctic survival. Further, according to Chief of Resources for Gates of the Arctic National Park and Yukon-Charley Rivers National Preserve, Jeff Rasic, “they were also the first people to set foot in the Canadian Arctic, all the way across to Greenland — one of the biggest human migrations in human history. The launching pad for all that was right there in Northwestern Alaska.”

It was quite fitting that the Alaska Anthropology Association focused on the Denbighs in their annual celebrations since it’s exactly 50 years since works were first published about these people. Further, it was the Denbighs who were the first humans that colonized most of Arctic North America. That took place close to 5,000 years ago.

One way of studying the Denbigh people is by unearthing various animals. Scientists can then use these to figure out what the people were eating, how game and marine mammals were processed and how they migrated based on the seasons. Rasic added that these were “the best ever craftspeople of stone tools from Alaska. They made incredibly fine tools that were functional, but also beautiful. They’re little works of art and nobody before or after Denbigh ever matched that quality. The Denbigh people were very specialized in how they hunted and gathered food in all these different environments.”

Rasic also discovered that these people were “restless” having moved across the region toward Greenland, despite maintaining connections with their Russian roots. He added that it was important for Northwestern Alaskans to “know that their own backyard is this unique (link) to human history on a global scale.”

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Miami Skyline Adding Class

Anyone who has ever seen either a picture of Miami’s skyline, or has seen it in person, is sure to have been impressed by the sleek, modern towers rising seemingly straight out of the water and into a deep blue sky dotted with puffy, white and grey clouds. Many of those towering buildings are modern office buildings or luxury residences lining the exclusive and high-end Brickell Avenue.

Soon to add an additional notch of class to this desirable avenue will be the much awaited Miami Flat Iron Brickell Building. The building, designed by famed architect Luis Revuelta, the Miami Flat Iron Brickell will be one of the tallest buildings in Miami.

Vladimir Doronin and Ugo Colombo

Miami Skyline About to Improve

With 550 residences on 65 floors, the design is sleek and modern, resembling a cruise liner sailing on the waters of Biscayne Bay.

Developers of the project, which will rise just north of the Metromover light rail and the “Flatiron Park,” are veteran Miami developer Ugo Colombo, and internationally renowned Russian real estate developer Vladimir Doronin.

Sales of units at the Flat Iron were launched by Vladimir Doronin and Ugo Colombo in late April. In addition to the apartments, 40,000 square-feet of retail space will also be available, including a restaurant, lounge and more.

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Geography America and the Aging Population

senior-citizensA recent workshop took place entitled, “How Changing Demographics Will Impact America’s Urban Revival.” Participants were: Elizabeth Kneebone and Margery Austin Turner, hailing from the Metropolitan Policy Program, The Brookings Institution and Urban Institute Program Planning and Management.

The gist of what came out of the discussion was geared toward policymakers and their impact on geography America and changing demographics. When addressing urban and suburban issues, it is “crucial” to consider their geographical context.

In other words, what may be a successful urban policy in Texas might not necessarily be appropriate for the very different demographic of Cincinnati. Policies are impacted by the demographics – whether the communities are aging or more youthful.

Despite these findings, Jim Russell, a geographer specializing on the relationship between migration and economic development, two years ago his research revealed something different. He said:

“Not only did I find brain gain where others decried brain drain, I saw a lot of the Rust Belt in the most distressed San Antonio neighborhoods. Cities all over the United States have struggled with the decline of manufacturing. San Antonio is no exception. Concerning the economic geography of reinventing America’s older communities, place doesn’t matter. Where you have neighborhoods that were (perhaps still are) linked to manufacturing employment, you will find common problems and common solutions.”

Nevertheless what also needs to be taken into consideration is the fact that the number of those born in America between 1946 and 1964 (65+ ers) is “projected to hit 83.7m by 2050.” This is almost twice as much as the estimated 43.1 m older residents who got to that age three years ago according to ‘An Aging Nation: The Older Population in the United States’ and ‘The Baby Boom Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060.’

Thus it is crucial to look at geography America, demographics, and figure out where the largest aging population is. Senior citizens require different medical and other care and services.

Marking 150 Years of Heroes’ Death

Nathaniel_HawthorneAmerica has witnessed a few anniversaries of deaths of soldiers recently. Different communities in various states find ways to memorialize these days. Between ceremonies and monumental dedications, readings and more, here are a few highlights of such events.

Novelist Nathaniel Hawthorne died on a trip he took with best friend US President Franklin Pierce around New England. In a letter in the archives of the Shapell Manuscript Foundation that was written 10 years ago, Pierce described the circumstances of his death:

We came here yesterday afternoon. At about 9 o’clock Hawthorne retired, & soon fell into a quiet slumber. He changed his position in about half an hour, but continued to sleep. I retired before 11 thinking that he would have a quiet night, I awoke between 1 & 2 o[‘]clock and went to his bed side. (There was a light in my room & a door between it and that of H, which was left open[,] our beds were near each other) He had again changed his position but was lying naturally upon his side with his face toward me and I supposed was in quiet repose. I returned to my bed, but waking between 3 & 4 o’clock I was surprised to observe that his position was unchanged[,] and placing my hand upon his temple found that life was extinct. I sent immediately for a Physician & called […] B[…], Thom. Hillard who are here at a […] of the Court and occupying rooms near our’s. When […] the disposition of the limbs so perfectly natural, the repose of that noble face with the eyes closed, it was evident that he had passed away without the slightest movement and without suffering – One could hardly realize that he had passed from natural sleep to that sleep which knows no waking.”

Pierce was devastated, and, following his death, proceeded to re-read all of his friend’s books.

Another well-memorialized death is that of Albert Anderson. He also passed 150 years ago. Unlike Hawthorne who passed away from illness, he was killed during the Civil War in October 1864. Today he is buried at the Van Wert historic Cemetery near Rockmart. There will be a memorial held for him at the Euharlee Valley Historical Society (EVHS), attended by local and state officials, and the Atlanta Historical Museum’s curator, Gordon Jones.

Another ceremony that is due to take place is in memory of the 150th anniversary of the death of Colonel Simon Hosack Mix. While he was leading his 3rd NY Volunteer Cavalry Regiment, he was mortally wounded in Petersburg, Virginia, 1864. His body was never recovered but his family erected a monument at the Stone Fort cemetery. Today, col. Mix’s uniform and various personal effects are exhibited at the museum.

These are just a few of the ways in which heroes of war are being memorialized in 2014.

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Mesa Verde National Park Discovery

mesa-verdeA recent discovery was made in Colorado at the Mesa Verde National Park.  It seems that what has been considered for a long time to have been an Ancestral Puebloan water reservoir – that has been standing for a thousand years – may not have actually been erected to store water.
Instead, it seems that the latest study concludes that given that it is on a ridge, US Geological Survey scientist Larry Benson pointed out that “it’s hard to believe that Native Americans who understood the landscape and were in need of water would have decided to build a reservoir on that ridge.” Thus those in the study believe that Mummy Lake – what was thought to have been a water reservoir – was actually instead “an unroofed ceremonial structure” a bit like ancient kivas and plazas common in the Southwest.  It also looks a bit like a Arizonian amphitheater that was also originally considered a water reservoir.
Around 20 years ago an evolving ritual landscape was discovered by researchers studying the Manuelito Canyon Community of New Mexico.  Throughout history, the Manuelitos changed the ritual focus of their community, developing ceremonial roads to connect their retired great houses and great kivas to the new complexes.  Benson’s group believes the same thing occurred at Mesa Verde, concluding that it is time for “new signage” on the structure…We could probably call it ‘Mummy Lake’ again.”

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