Week #3 PECOS FIX!
August 16-22, 2020
When the Pecos Conference began, it focused on research being conducted by the titans of archaeology at the time like Kidder and Hewett. Since 1927 there has been a battle for student representation at the conference, and young participation has ebbed and flowed. In 2014 after the passing of Linda Cordell, several conference regulars concocted a competition for young archaeological presenters. Since then, the Cordell/Powers prize has drawn increasing numbers of students and provided the Big Tent as a venue for their progressive ideas and paradigm shifts.
This week the PECOS FIX! will explore conference honors and awards that honor people that are currently shaping the field of archaeology.
Linda's contributions to Southwestern archaeology are vast, she authored the authoritative book on the subject entitled Prehistory of the Southwest. Most known for her leadership and mentorship, Linda's legacy continues through her students.
Bob's long career in archaeology was primarily with the National Park Service, one of his most notable contributions was a major survey of Bandelier National Monument. Bob was committed to mentoring young archaeologists and encouraging collegiality in field work.
What is the Cordell/Powers Prize?
The Cordell and Powers Prize is a competition that honors Linda S. Cordell and Robert P. Powers: teachers, mentors, advisors, and friends to countless Southwestern archaeologists. The top prize will be awarded for the two best extemporaneous talks presented at the Pecos Conference by archaeologists 35 years of age or younger. Both top winners will be awarded $700 along with the Cordell and the Powers prize objects, respectively.
Additional awards include second place ($550), third place ($400), 2 honorable mentions ($175), and 4 participation prizes ($75). Previous winners of the Cordell or the Powers Prize are ineligible to re-enter the competition. Only single-authored papers will be considered for the competition. Presentations are limited to 10 minutes. Because the Pecos Conference is held outdoors, audiovisuals and electronic media are not permitted. The presentations are judged on delivery, ability to engage the audience, organization and professionalism of the presentation, interest and importance of the subject matter, and the speaker’s adherence to the time limit.
A Few Award-Winning Talks
While there is not a video record of all of the winning Cordell/Powers Prize presentations, here are a few that were lucky enough to be captured. Which Cordell/Powers Prize talk has been your favorite?
Where Are They Now?
This week the Cordell/Powers Prize winners were asked to give you a little update about where they are now, and how the Pecos Conference and the C/P competition has changed the trajectory of their careers.
More Talks Under the Big Tent
Cordell Prize - 2019
I am honored to have received the 2019 Pecos Conference’s Cordell Prize. My paper, “Corrugated Pottery: A Legible Record?,” pieced together prehispanic ceramic production through the study of Ancestral Puebloan and Mogollon pottery with exposed coils. I found that, throughout the Southwest, prehispanic potters consistently chose to build in a counterclockwise direction unlike their historic and contemporary counterparts. I always enjoy sharing my research on corrugated wares, and Pecos was the perfect venue. The competition challenged me to effectively convey information without audiovisual support, which led me to create a more physical, fun, and lively talk. I channel that same energy into my work as a graduate student and research assistant at the University of New Mexico, where I am studying northern Southwest archaeology, ceramics, and the impact of population dynamics on material culture change. These days, I am assisting with research on Chaco Canyon and working in the collections of the Maxwell Museum of Anthropology. I would like to give a huge thanks to Linda Cordell and Robert Powers, as well as all the organizers, board members, donors, and volunteers who make the Pecos Conference happen.
Powers Prize - 2019
Winning the Powers Prize for my paper “The Mystery of the Salado (or something vaguely like it)” was quite a validating experience for me, as there seemed to be many possible ways to fail in attempting to present a critical and theoretical paper of this kind. Instead, I found an appreciative audience for some difficult ideas that are nonetheless very important to me, and I think, to our discipline. Archaeologists and broader communities have a lot to gain through understanding how our analytical thought and practice shape the kinds of knowledge we are able to build about the past. The Cordell/Powers Prize Competition spurred me to work on communicating challenging ideas in an engaging and accessible way, and also forced me to think hard enough about vagueness to talk about it clearly. I’m currently at Arizona State University, working on a dissertation in which I will apply this critical approach through an examination of manifestations of the Salado phenomenon in the Phoenix Basin of Arizona. This Pecos Conference paper captured a bit of what motivates my work, and I look forward to developing these ideas further and enjoying the challenges along the way.
Powers Prize - 2018
I won the Powers Prize in 2018 for my talk “Why Public Archaeology is Important: A Year of Bruised Hands and a Shocking Lack of Dinosaurs.” Since then my bruised hands have healed and I am nearing the completion of my Master’s Degree in Public Archaeology at the University of New Mexico. My master’s project was a public archaeological excavation at Coronado Historic Site. Today, I work full time as an educator at the beautiful Los Luceros Historic Site in Northern New Mexico. I use my passion for archaeology to teach visitors about the history of NM. Winning the Powers Prize has encouraged me to continue to use humor and enthusiasm as a means of engaging diverse audiences about archaeology and how important it is to do so….. for there is still a shocking lack of dinosaurs in archaeology and somebody’s got to be the bearer of bad news. Educate, engage, inspire, advocate. Loudly.
Cordell Prize - 2018
Winning the Cordell Prize was an extremely validating experience and encouraged me to continue studying the social role of rock art production. My paper “Shields of the Tsegi: Pueblo III Social Affiliation as Seen in Spatial Patterning of Shield Iconography” reported on how Pueblo III communities of Tsegi Canyon developed a unique spatial pattern for depictions of shield motifs. Too often iconographic studies focus on imagery alone and neglect the larger physical/social context in which rock art images were made. In January of 2020 an expanded version of my paper was published as an article in Kiva, continuing my research into the landscape context of rock art production. Winning the Cordell Prize encouraged me to continue my doctoral research at Binghamton University into the relationship(s) of rock art within the larger cultural landscape of Chaco Canyon. I currently live in Tucson, working with the Heritage Program at Coronado National Forest and preparing for my final round of dissertation exams this fall. I would like to thank the organizers, donors, judges for their continued dedication to the Cordell/Power contest.
ETHAN ORLANDO ORTEGA
Cordell Prize - 2017
Since winning the Cordell Prize with a talk focusing on decolonization of history through community-based archaeology (I was the guy who wore and discarded the Coronado helmet), I have completed a Museum Studies Master’s degree at the University of New Mexico. I work for the New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs and serve as the Site Manager and Supervisory Archaeologist of New Mexico’s newest designated Historic Site: Los Luceros (located in Alcalde, NM). My goal is to establish Los Luceros as a premier cultural institution in northern New Mexico through substantial preservation projects, dynamic interpretive programs, and public archaeology all built on a foundation of community-based participatory research. My husband, Justin, and I currently live at Los Luceros with more farm animals than an archaeologist should ever be responsible for. I am thankful to the Cordell/Powers Prize because it has pushed me to be innovative and concise with my work as well as with how I present my work to the public. I also currently serve on the Pecos Conference Board as Information Specialist, so feel free to reach out with any questions, comments, or concerns about the website to .
Powers Prize - 2017, Cordell Prize - 2016
I am honored to have received the Cordell Prize in 2016 (for a talk on landforms as a kind of public architecture in early Hopi communities) and the Powers Prize in 2017 (for a talk about lithics in the Cibola region of New Mexico). Participation in the Cordell-Powers Prize Competition encouraged me to hone my public speaking and presentation skills; the prize objects inspired my work during their time in my possession; and the prize money offset my sins committed at the Pecos book tent. In 2019 I completed my dissertation at Binghamton University. My research employed a concept from Native American political science--Peoplehood--to discuss the effects of landscape change in Chacoan outlier communities in the northern Southwest. I argued that the creation of Chacoan landscapes often altered existing community landscapes, a process which significantly altered the identity of community residents and which brought them politically closer to Chaco. Since July of 2019 I have been the Supervisory Archaeologist at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, in Cortez, Colorado; my primary duties include research and participant archaeological fieldwork for the Northern Chaco Outliers Project. I am the current Chair of the Cordell-Powers Prize Committee and in that role I hope to continue to support the legacy of Linda Cordell and Bob Powers, two archaeologists who set such an excellent example for the rest of us.
Powers Prize - 2016
My contest entry was based on my MA thesis at Brown University, which explored the role of gambling in the Chaco culture as described in Diné oral histories. Fueled by the positive reception of this presentation, I published an article in American Antiquity describing the evidence for and social significance of gambling at Chaco. Currently, I am working towards a PhD at the University of Colorado Boulder, focusing on the use and meaning of Chacoan roads using GPS mapping, drone photogrammetry, LiDAR, optically-stimulated luminescence (OSL) dating, and comparative insights with monumental roads across the ancient world. On a larger scale, I am interested in the role of religion in human history and seek to integrate my research with larger discussions in humanities, religious studies, and cognitive science. The Cordell-Powers Contest introduced me to the public impact and personal satisfaction of presenting archaeological research in a lively but data-substantiated manner.
Cordell Prize - 2015
I won the Cordell prize in 2015 during a postdoctoral appointment at Washington State University, where I earned my PhD in 2014. During the postdoc, I adapted my Cordell Prize presentation, “What is the Pecos Classification, Anyway?,” into a formal paper that was published in the AAAS journal Science Advances in 2016 — “Exploration and Exploitation in the Macrohistory of the Pre-Hispanic Pueblo Southwest.” The paper, which I wrote with co-authors Johnathan Rush, Keith Kintigh, and Tim Kohler received widespread press attention, and I was interviewed for an episode of NPR’s Science Friday. In 2016, I joined the Research Institute at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, where my work focused on enhancing the computational infrastructure at the Center and developing tools for researchers to access paleoenvironmental data. In 2017, I relocated with my fiancé to Montana, and began consulting on archaeological data analysis and climate modeling. In 2018, I returned to Crow Canyon to direct the Research Institute. In addition to my consulting work, I am currently assistant hourly research faculty at the Desert Research Institute in Reno, NV and a researcher with the Montana Climate Office at the University of Montana. I live with my husband John and our golden retrievers Molly and CJ in Missoula.
Cordell Prize - 2014
I received the inaugural Cordell Prize in 2014 for a paper on Low-Cost Methods for Rock Art Documentation. Subsequent to receiving the award, I completed my master’s degree at Northern Arizona University. I am currently the archaeologist for the BLM Price Field Office in Utah, where I manage a variety of archaeological resources including Barrier Canyon, Fremont, and Ute period rock art, as well as both prehistoric and historic cultural resources. Together with the Price Field Office, we have been partnering with youth for stewardship activities in Nine Mile Canyon, including a public excavation of a Fremont Pit House in the fall of 2017. The Cordell Prize competition helped me acquire the skills necessary to present complex archaeological topics to a varied audience within a set time limit, and I use this skill as part of my regular duties.
Current Research by the Cordell Prize Holder
Our Cordell/Powers Prize winners continue to be ground-breaking in their fields. This week you have the oporotunity to listien in to Genevieve Woodhead present on her current research.
Thursday, August 20, 2020 4:00 p.m. MDT
Brought to you by the Four Corners Lecture Series, the Hisatsinom Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society, and the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.
What Can We Learn From Coiling & Corrugation in Southwest Ceramics? Prehispanic corrugated pottery sherds are ubiquitous in the northern US Southwest. And yet, corrugation seems unique to this part of the world. From the 900s to the 1200s A.D., corrugated pottery was popular throughout portions of New Mexico, Colorado, Arizona, and Utah. This presentation describes how prehispanic potters constructed corrugated vessels and how these vessels resemble and differ from historic and contemporary Pueblo pots.
The webinar is suitable for lifelong learners from high school students to adults. The lesson is free.
Donate To The Cordell/Powers Prize
If you would like to donate to the Cordell/Powers Prize fund, please send checks to Cordell/Powers Prize, Southwestern Archaeology, Inc., 765 Pawnee, Flagstaff, Arizona 86005.
You can also use the link below to donate digitally. Please be sure to specify that the donation is for the Cordell/Powers Prize when prompted.
Southwestern Archaeology, Inc., is a 501c3. You will receive documentation for tax filing purposes.
Byron Cummings Award
The Cordell/Powers Prize is not the only awards given at the Pecos Conference. Each year we are happy to share the stage with the Arizona Archaeological & Historical Society to present several honors to individuals who have contributed significantly to the field over their careers. This year they would like to virtually present the Byron Cummings Award to Stephen H. Lekson and John D. Speth.
The Arizona Archaeological & Historical Society states:
"Arch and Hist planned to present Byron Cummings Awards, Victor R. Stoner Awards, and Alexander Lindsay Unsung Hero Awards at the Pecos Conference this weekend. As folks could not gather for the conference this year we are presenting the awards here on Facebook. Starting today we will highlight one award a week for the next three weeks through video presentations, starting with two Byron Cummings awards. Congratulations to all of the awardees! "
These are not the only awards that the society has to give out this year, we will be sharing more next week. Check out the videos above for more information about this year's awardees. Congrats!