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February 2017 Lecture

The Kiowa Odyssey:
Evidence of Historical Relationships among Pueblo, Fremont, and Northwest Plains Peoples

Kiowa ShieldBearer copySpeaker:  Dr. Lynda McNeil – Visiting Researcher-Scholar in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University.
Date & Time: Thursday, February 9, 2017 – 7:00pm to 8:30pm (Second Thursday)
Location: University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
Click here for directions and parking information
Lecture is free and open to the public. We welcome public participation.

Description: A detail of North American prehistory that has long puzzled anthropologists is how the Kiowa speech community ended up on the Southern Plains, given that Kiowa is related to the Tanoan languages of the US Southwest. In this paper, we present a variety of linguistic, ethnographic, archaeological, and rock art evidence which suggest: 1) Proto-Kiowa-Tanoan was spoken in Late Archaic, Eastern Basketmaker, and Early Fremont sites on the Colorado Plateau; 2) Kiowan diverged from Proto-Tanoan prior to the Basketmaker III period; 3) Kiowa was among the languages spoken in Eastern Fremont sites; 4) Kiowa-speaking peoples migrated from the Fremont area to the Northwest Plains around 1300 CE; and 5) Kiowa people moved from the Yellowstone area to the Southern Plains by the early 19th century. This hypothesis suggests that Pueblo and Fremont peoples share threads of common heritage and that contemporary Kiowa people may have affiliations with certain Fremont and Northwest Plains sites.

Presenter: Beginning in 1995, Dr. McNeil’s research interest in anthropology addressed the question, how or through what mechanisms did humans preserve their collective knowledge over generations before the invention of writing? Early on, she investigated bear cult traditions encoded in Yenisei River (Southern Siberia) rock art, joining a team of international researchers on an expedition in 2002 to that region, as well as Colorado Plateau Ute Indian rock art, Bear Dance spring rites, and oral traditions.  She is currently working on the role of information sharing in the constitution of small-scale social networks during the transition to agriculture in the northern Southwest. Her research correlates linguistic, material cultural, and rock art evidence that shows interactions between different social groups.  Examples of her current work include investigating Basketmaker II social networking and information sharing in collaboration with Dr. David Shaul, a linguist studying Uto-Aztecan languages, and Kiowa ethnogenesis involving Eastern Basketmakers, Eastern Fremont, and historic Kiowa in collaboration with anthropologist Dr. Scott Ortman.

Since 2011, she joined the School of Human Evolution and Social Change (SHESC) at Arizona State University, Tempe, Arizona as a Research-Scholar. Prior to her affiliation with SHESC, for over two decades she taught classes on writing about anthropology in the Program for Writing and Rhetoric at CU, Boulder.  She earned a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Maryland, College Park, Maryland.






March 2017 Lecture

Winnemucca Lake, NV Petroglyph Site, 10,500 to 14,800 Years B.P.   


Speaker: Larry Benson – Adjunct Curator of Anthropology in the CU Museum of Nature and Science
Date & Time: Thursday, March 9 at 7:00 pm (Second Thursday)
Location: University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
Click here for directions and parking information
Lecture is free and open to the public. We welcome public participation.

A recent study led by a University of Colorado Boulder researcher shows the oldest known petroglyphs in North America, which are cut into a large carbonate mound in western Nevada, date to at least 10,500 years ago and perhaps even as far back as 14,800 years ago.
The petroglyphs located at the Winnemucca Lake petroglyph site 35 miles northeast of Reno consist of large, deeply carved grooves and dots forming complex designs on several large limestone boulders that have been known about for decades. Although there are no people, animals or handprint symbols depicted, the petroglyph designs include a series of vertical, chain-like symbols and a number of smaller pits deeply incised with a type of hard rock scraper.
Several methods were used to date the petroglyphs, including determining when the water level the Winnemucca Lake basin—which back then was a single body of water connecting the now-dry Winnemucca Lake and the existing Pyramid Lake—reached the specific elevation of 1207 m.
The elevation was key to the study because it marked the maximum height the ancient lake system could have reached before it began spilling excess water over Emerson Pass to the north. When the lake level was at this height, the petroglyph-peppered boulders near the base of the mound were submerged and therefore not accessible for carving.
Co-authors on the study included Eugene Hattori of the Nevada State Museum in Carson City, Nevada John Southon of the University of California, Irvine. The National Research Program of the U.S. Geological Survey funded the study.
The oldest dates calculated for the Winnemucca Lake petroglyph site correspond with the time frame linked to several pieces of fossilized human excrement found in a cave in Oregon. The caves, known as the Paisley Caves in south central Oregon, held not only fossilized human coprolites that dated to roughly 14,400 years ago. Fifty-five sites near and southeast of the Paisley Caves exhibit the same type of petroglyphs as the Winnemucca Lake glyphs, suggesting the same people may have occupied both areas 14,000 ± years ago.

After receiving his PhD in Earth Science from Brown University in 1974, Benson took a series of jobs, including: Assistant Professor at the University of Nevada, principal Investigator at the Desert Research Institute, visiting scientist at the University of California Berkeley, and staff scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. In 1982 he moved to Boulder and began work with the U.S. Geological Survey, retiring from that institution in 2010.
While at the Desert Research Institute he designed and implemented the pilot project for the Department of Energy’s National Uranium Research Evaluation program. At the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, his research encompassed geochemical studies of the Hanford Nuclear site, including the development of a sophisticated numerical chemical transport model designed to simulate the movement of radionuclides from the nuclear waste repository. When he joined the USGS, he was first assigned to the Yucca Mountain project where he was responsible for the creation of the Paleoclimate and Paleohydrology programs.
His early paleoclimate work oscillated between studies of present-day hydrologic, atmospheric, and chemical processes, the conceptual and numerical modeling of those processes, and the application of those models to paleoclimate data sets. One of the outcomes of that work was the demonstration that fluctuations in the sizes of large paleo-lake systems in the Great Basin of the western United States reflected changes in the climate of the North Atlantic between 45,000 and 10,000 years ago. During the past decade, he applied geochemical methods to the sourcing of Native American prehistoric maize and textiles and, in addition, used high-resolution records of past climate to better understand the impact of climate change on prehistoric Native Americans via their subsistence base. One of these studies indicated that Chaco and Cahokia were abandoned at approximately the same time due to a megadrought that extended from California through Illinois.

He has authored slightly over 100 peer-reviewed publications.

April 2017 Lecture

Franktown Cave, CO (5DA272): New Analysis of Data and Its Relation to Apachean Migrations 

Speaker: Dr. Kevin Gilmore – Archaeology Program Manager in HDR’s Englewood Office.
Date & Time: Thursday, April 13, 2017 – 7:00pm to 8:30pm
Location: University of Colorado Museum of Natural History
Click here for directions and parking information
Lecture is free and open to the public. We welcome public participation.

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