NEXT MEETING: Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 5:00PM Mountain Daylight Saving Time (4:00PM Arizona Time): GCAS's regular monthly meeting becomes a special hybrid in-person and online Zoom charity event to be held in Silver City at the Western New Mexico University Museum at Fleming Hall on W. 10th St. next to the Aldo Leopold Charter School, to support the WNMU Museum's curation of their historic documents and photo archives. Featured Speaker: historian and award-winning author, Carolyn O’Bagy Davis, will discuss Hopi Quilts and Textiles as Cultural Artforms. We begin at 5:00 PM with a minimum $5 donation payable to the Museum at their front desk. Online participants also register with a $5 minimum donation to the Museum payable via the GCAS's secure Paypal portal. The Museum welcomes and appreciates additional donations in any other amounts to support their curation project. All such proceeds go to the WNMU Museum. A classic quilter's trunk show immediately follows Carolyn's presentation, offering original 25" x 30" quilted wall hangings designed and created by Hopi artist Bonnie Nampeyo Chapella for $150 each. The proceeds from one quilt will also be donated to the WNMU Museum. Register and donate online here, or Email the GCAS for registration info and other details.

NEXT FIELD TRIP: Sunday, March 3, 2024, Third time's a charm for the GCAS monthly field trip! At 10:00 AM sharp, meet our trip leader, Marilyn Gendron, at the intersection of Hwy 180 and Hwy 61 (City of Rocks turnoff). From there we will caravan 1/2 hour more, turn left onto the Hatch highway (26), and drive 5 miles to turn left again onto Green Leaf Mine Road (a good dirt road, fine for a street car). Here is a video of the road. Drive 10 more miles passing one check dam (at the 9:34 mark on the video), crossing a yellow cattle guard (11:07) and at the second check dam turn left and park (11:44). It is rocky and uphill to the ridge (1/4 mile?) but there is a trail. There are four petroglyph areas with wonderful images. It is exposed on the ridge with no toilet facilities. Wear sturdy shoes, dress in layers, and bring a lunch. As always, carpooling is encouraged. See you there!


GCAS Fundraiser for WNMU Museum!

MA14The Grant County Archaeological Society’s regular monthly meeting on July 19, 2023, becomes a special fundraising event for the Western New Mexico University Museum at Fleming Hall, open to GCAS members &the general public in a hybrid in-person and Zoom event! Doors open at 5PM Mountain Daylight (Silver City) Time with a recommended $5.00 minimum donation to the WNMU Museum from in-person attendees and Zoom participants alike.

In-person attendees contribute at the door while Zoom attendees support the Museum via the GCAS's online PayPal payment portal. All donations go to the WNMU Museum.

Beginning at 5PM in-person attendees can view the Museum’s exhibits of Mimbres pottery & other artifacts. Light refreshments provided. Museum’s gift shop is open. At 6:00 PM Mountain Daylight (Silver City) Time, in-person and via Zoom, Featured Speaker USFS District Archaeologist Chris Adams introduces Mimbres Pottery - Feather Imagery. Talk will follow with in-person/online Q&A.

Museum space is limited so reserve an in-person seat or request our Zoom link by contacting the GCAS at [email protected] or by telephoning Marianne Smith at 772-529-2627. Join us in this special fundraising event for the WNMU Museum, and consider becoming a member of the GCAS yourself. The GCAS and the WNMU Museum are grateful for your support.

Jornada Research Institute - Projects and Trips

Generic flight-2.0Archaeologist Dave Greenwald of the Jornada Research Institute checks in with the latest action in the Jornada-Mogollon region. He reports that:

weekend excavations at Cornelius Locus are suspended until next Spring. In November, the JRI will organize excavations at Creekside Village, scheduling TBA. Expect some lab days when the JRI volunteers (like you!) will process (wash, sort re-bag) artifacts from Cornelius Locus and select samples for radiocarbon dating. Dave will provide specifics on these activities (where and when) in a future email to participants as well as to this here website.

Dave also sends updates on JRI's upcoming international tours*:

Continue reading "Jornada Research Institute - Projects and Trips" »

The GCAS's Nancy Coinman Library

L to R  MGendron  one of Nancys sisters  MKM  Pete Crum  MEberhardtSaturday, October 14, 2023, was an auspicious day. We experienced a total solar eclipse. The Mimbres Culture Heritage Site hosted National Archaeology Day with features and events that included tours of the Mattocks archaeological site, hands-on activities for all ages, storytelling about a historic local homicide, and the always-fabulous GCAS used-book sale. The day's special VIPs included two professional archaeologists, Karl and Toni Laumbach; and members of two Apache families, the Leybas and the Rogelios, who attended in traditional Apache regalia to commemorate the 143d anniversary on October 14 of the death of Victorio, chief of the Warm Springs band of the Tchihendeh Apache. About 40 attendees heard Karl Laumbach give the afternoon's featured presentation, Hembrillo: an Apache Battlefield of the Victorio War, April 5, 6, and 7, 1880.

Continue reading "The GCAS's Nancy Coinman Library" »

San Lorenzo Elementary Returns to WNMU Museum!

IMG_1800Last week, on September 29, the 4th and 5th grade classes at San Lorenzo Elementary School returned to the WNMU Museum for a special tour and workshop day. This was their second year in a row to visit the museum and the GCAS was happy to once again cover the cost of their bus transport and to volunteer to help the museum director and teachers make the day a success.

IMG_1805These young students first learned about the Mimbres and puebloan cultures from the museum director, Danni Romero herself. Then they got busy with a range of hands-on activities. They selected their favorite image from a Mimbres bowl on display, then were challenged to recreate it as their own sketch...

IMG_1801...They examined and sorted a table full of potsherds painted in the Reserve style located at sites in the Quemado, New Mexico area....


IMG_1803 IMG_1806...At yet another workshop station these students painted assorted images in their own designs -- but the results looked like the kind of fine imagery we see in pictographs and petroglyphs at sites throughout our region.

The GCAS will continue to support the industrious young folk at San Lorenzo Elementary and we look forward to making this a regular, annual event at the WNMU Museum. Thanks go to the museum staff, the teachers, the volunteers, and especially the students for having made this day a special one. We'll be all set next year to welcome the San Lo 4th-5th grade classes of 2024!

/s/ webmaster [All photos courtesy of Marilyn Gendron]

Grant Opportunity for GCAS To Pursue!

The Site Steward Foundation’s H. Wayne Nelson Grant Program is offering two $1,000 grant awards in 2023 to individuals and organizations for funding projects supporting the preservation, education, and research of archaeological and cultural resources in New Mexico. This grant program encourages and supports professionals, students, and volunteers in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and cultural resource management. The grant application will be evaluated based on the project’s critical need and proposed outcome, including community impact, benefits, and feasibility. Application deadline is October 31, 2023, with the grant award date by December 31, 2023. Please email Gary Newgent to request a grant application form and contact the GCAS with your proposal!

/s/ webmaster

A Tribute to John Massey Fitch

Southwestern archaeologist Karl Laumbach was a longtime friend and colleague of John Fitch, who recently passed away. Karl has shared with us his special tribute to John Fitch's friendship and his achievements as an avocational archaeologist. Please scroll below to read Karl's remembrance of John Fitch's interesting and productive life:

John Massey Fitch

February 1, 1940 – August 21, 2023


John Massey Fitch passed away on August 21, 2023, at the age of 83. Born in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on February 1, 1940, John grew up in El Paso, Texas. His father, Massey Lee Fitch, served with the U.S. Immigration Service. His mother, Elizabeth Anne (Harrison) Fitch was a teacher for the elementary schools of the Ysleta Independent School District. John began his life-long fascination with archaeology when he found his first pottery sherds while exploring the desert with his father.

John enjoyed his school years and particularly remembered his 7th grade teacher’s axiom, “Well begun is half done.” John did nothing by half measures. He was always “all in” on anything he committed to.

Excelling in writing during his high school years, he won the award for the best essay in the State of Texas his senior year. Traveling to Austin to receive his prize, he fondly remembered making the trip with Dr. Charles Leland Sonnichsen, a prolific author of books on the history and folklore of the American Southwest.

Following high school he entered Texas Western University (now the University of Texas at El Paso). He graduated with a Bachelors degree in Journalism. Upon graduation, John began the two years of service in the U.S. Army required by his commitment to the ROTC program at Texas Western. He was assigned to an Army Intelligence Division as a 2nd Lieutenant, where he served as an instructor in camera technique.

Completing his commitment to the U.S. Army, John returned to El Paso where he took a job as copy editor for the El Paso Herald Post. It was while he was so employed that he saw an advertisement from the Central Intelligence Agency. He applied and was accepted. His years with the CIA are cloaked in mystery, as one might imagine. We know that for at least two years John served as a liaison for official guests to the Space Command Center in Colorado Springs. Following that assignment, he was a Senior Intelligence Official in Washington, D.C., where he was involved in compiling data and subsequent production of the morning report to the President of the United States. John served in that capacity for four U.S. Presidents (Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and Bill Clinton.) Always an avid reader of history, John’s knowledge of world affairs was deep and varied.

Retiring from the CIA in 1995, John cast about for where he might retire. He very much wanted to revive his childhood interest in archaeology and so chose Las Cruces, New Mexico. He promptly became a member of the both the Doña Ana County and El Paso Archaeological Societies. John could always be depended to drive his four-wheel drive vehicle on whatever field trip was at hand.

In 1999, he joined the Doña Ana Archeological Society in helping Karl Laumbach of Human Systems Research prepare the Victorio Site at Cañada Alamosa for excavation. The following year he was a member of a second field effort that included the first deep excavations at the Pinnacle Ruin by Dr. Stephen Lekson.

From 2001 through 2011 and beyond, John was the official project photographer, taking thousands of images. John would carefully review the images and provided a detailed photo log when the season was over. He also participated in the laboratory effort associated with the project which included ceramic and lithic analysis as well as the processing of samples of all sorts. In addition to Cañada Alamosa, John participated in a number of projects for Human Systems Research, often as the project photographer. He made friends and interacted with a wide variety of Southwestern archaeologists, assisting in Jacob Sedig’s excavations at Woodrow Ruin and funding radiocarbon dates for sites in the Mimbres Valley. In 2006, John received the Richard A. Bice Award for Archaeological Achievement from the Archaeological Society of New Mexico.

John served as the project photographer for Katy Putsavage’s excavation at the Black Mountain site from 2010 to 2012. Beyond recording the excavations, John was skilled at capturing candid photos of the crew in the field, washing artifacts, and relaxing over a meal. John was fully committed to the project and the crew. When he wasn’t photographing the site and crew, he surveyed the site for diagnostic artifacts, kept the beer fridge stocked, and carted crew and equipment to and from the site. He was a valued member of the team.

An active member and supporter of the Archaeological Society of 'New Mexico, the Grant County Archaeological Society, the Archaeological Conservancy, and Archaeology Southwest, John took part in programs and tours offered by all of the above organizations as well as the Roads Scholar Program. He was also a regular attendee of local, regional, and, occasionally, national archaeological conferences.

John was never more at home than in the field, hiking to an archaeological site or driving the back roads in his 4X4. In many ways, he was able to live his fantasy while contributing almost 30 years of his life to the pursuit of Southwestern archaeology and history. He was a blessing to the field and we miss him.


Thank you for sharing this heartfelt tribute to John's life with us, Karl. John's passing leaves a void in our community that will be hard to fill.

Download Obituary John Massey Fitch

/s/ webmaster

A Grant We Can Use

If any GCAS members can step up with ideas for good community projects for us to pursue? Tuesday, October 31, 2023,  is the DEADLINE for a special grant application the GCAS can use: The Site Steward Foundation is offering two $1,000 grant awards in 2023 to individuals and organizations for funding projects supporting the preservation, education, and research of archaeological and cultural resources in New Mexico. The purpose of the H. Wayne Nelson grant program is to encourage and support professionals, students, and volunteers in the fields of archaeology, anthropology, and cultural resource management. The grant application will be evaluated based on the project’s critical need and proposed outcome, including community impact, benefits, and feasibility. The H. Wayne Nelson grant application deadline is October 31, 2023, with the grant award date by December 31, 2023. Please let the GCAS know how you can help move our group forward, and  email Gary Newgent to request a grant application form.

Thank you for helping!

/s/ webmaster

Our Next Monthly Meeting Features the GCAS's Own Jeff Banfield

Jeff-BanfieldWednesday, September 20, 2023: Join us at our regular monthly meeting as we return to the Roundup Lodge in San Lorenzo (Mimbres Valley) near the junction of Highways 152 and 35 for the last time this year. Potluck starts at 5PM with your own plates/utensils/beverage & a dish for yourself or to share. Brief general meeting will begin at 5:40PM, then at 6PM sharp we welcome our Featured Speaker, GCAS member Jeff Banfield, who will present Hunting for Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloan) Sites in Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. Jeff arrived in the Canyon of the Ancients in an unconventional way: after retiring from the Math Department at Montana State University in 2012, Jeff and Lisa Banfield moved to Santo Domingo (Dominican Republic) where Lisa taught at an international school. Since returning to the US they have lived in Tucson, Cortez, and now Silver City. Jeff tells us:

In Santo Domingo I learned to never buy bananas from the street vendors because they always give you your change in bananas. In Tucson I volunteered as a naturalist in Sabino Canyon where I got to see a tarantula and a tarantula hawk battle it out (the wasp won). In Cortez I volunteered at the Anasazi Heritage Center and was able to spend four years wandering through Canyons of the Ancients National Monument looking for Anasazi (Ancestral Puebloan) sites. Now that we live in Silver City, I volunteer at City of Rocks State Park on Mondays and I spend the rest of the week trying to persuade something besides goatheads to grow in the caliche that makes up most of our yard.

We'll see you at the Roundup for a fine meal and to learn from Jeff about Ancestral Puebloan sites in Colorado!

/s/ webmaster

Now's the Chance to Help Our Junior Site Stewards!

IMG_0299People, here's an opportunity to help our local grade school students do something important. Marilyn Markel needs GCAS volunteers to help at the Mimbres Culture Heritage Site on Wednesday, 9/13/2023, as 16 students from San Lorenzo’s third grade class train to be Junior Site Stewards. No experience necessary; Marilyn will show you the ropes. Contact Marilyn directly at 575-536-9337 to represent the GCAS in the Junior Site Steward program. The third graders will appreciate your help!

/s/ webmaster [photo is of past Junior Site Stewards - good kids, all of them]