Changes Ahead and an Update from the Director

blackwater-draw logoAbout our web presence or disturbing lack thereof:

We have been working with our Communication Services Department for some months now to develop a new and better website that is university sanctioned. Until recently, blogs like mine, had to be maintained “unofficially” as there was this great fear of rogue blogging.  When I started in this position, and for the subsequent few years, it was nearly impossible to control content or make changes to our “official” website leading to angry complaints about out of date information, incorrect hours and dates for our museums, and a general lack of useful or real information about this world-class National Landmark.  Adding new blog-like posts were out of the question as there was a  two-week delay between submission and publication.

Social Media:

I believe we have (finally)  entered a new era in social media and we even maintain a relatively active Facebook presence (and no, we don’t have the time, nor are we exciting enough to use Twitter).

Changes to the Museum:

YES!  We are finally in the process of updating our museum. It is always a shock to avocational and professional archaeologists that there is not an enormous edifice with an attached research center at the Blackwater Draw National Historic Landmark or nearby on the campus of Eastern New Mexico University. I know, I felt the same when I first visited this Mecca.  This massive archaeological landscape has been largely overlooked and held in statu quo for decades now while some serious myths have made it into print about the nature and status of the cultural resources here.

I have sacrificed much to remedy this and I think, maybe, we are now on the right path.  We have been allocated a small but significant amount of money to create new displays in a better space on campus.  I don’t even care that others have taken credit for this many year long struggle, I’m just glad it is getting done.

Creating a museum, even a small one, does not happen overnight and it isn’t a matter of just moving a truck load of 45 year old, outdated displays to a new room.  We intend to do this right, and that means a complete re-vamp of the story we tell and how it is told.  Please bear with us during the coming year while we make these changes.

I will continue this blog though it will soon be mirrored, in an edited form, elsewhere and we will, I hope, produce something to further the understanding of the Clovis site and the spread of early humans on the Southern High Plains.


To the many individuals and institutions who have worked with us in recent years to return materials taken, borrowed, or purchased unscrupulously from the site, I thank you.*

George Crawford, Director – Blackwater Draw National Historic Landmark

*Despite rumor and legal hearsay, there is no legitimate way to own specimens from this site, whether you work for the Federal Government, another state, or you purchased something from someone who worked for the mine company.

And on a personal note: I sincerely hope that some of the people and institutions who have taken artifacts and other specimens from our site will be able to let them go to be returned to our research collection.  Greed for possession and the ego boost of having something from the type-site do not advance our field, they only serve to divide us and blur our understanding of the past.


About George Crawford

archaeologist, archer, primitive technologist, and wannabee musician ... mostly
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8 Responses to Changes Ahead and an Update from the Director

  1. Doc' & CJ says:


    I’ve always enjoyed following the progress at Blackwater and many other locations, but I gotta tell ya my friend, when you start talking “our site” and “our research collection”; you exemplify the problem and contribute to the “division and blurring of OUR understanding of the past.”

    BTW I heard the government just made the possession of any Fiddle manufactured before July 31, 2015 illegal. This includes all Fiddles that were purchased through private exchange, inheritance, or were procured by any other means. The only exceptions to this new law will be Fiddles manufactured and approved by multiple government agencies after August 1, 2015. Appropriate licences, permits, fees and registration will also be required upon completion of a “musical aptitude” test administered by a select department of the government who is solely qualified to determine whether or not any licences or permits will be granted. Penalties for violation of this new law are considered Federal offenses and carry with them long prison sentences. Despite strong protests from the vast and diverse community of Fiddle players in America, accredited Musical Academics have long supported this new law and applaud it’s full and immediate implementation. The stated objective of this new law is: “The preservation of the history of Fiddle Music and the people who created and utilized them”.

    I also understand every Fiddle produced under the new law will be inspected to ensure that each is identical in materials and construction. A list of government approved music will also be included with the issuance of each legally registered Fiddle. Annual compliance inspections will also be required along with renewal fees. All fees and regulations are subject to change without notice. In addition, all licences and permits are subject to immediate revocation at the sole discretion of the issuing agency.

    Seems a bit harsh to me, but surely Academia knows best how to address these situations. I’ll leave you to consider whether or not you will surrender your own personal Fiddle(s) in order to comply with this new law.

    As for myself, I’m not a Fiddler.

    • Cute story. I am a bit slow. I don’t think I fully understand what you are saying here or believe what you are saying here.
      On this one bit of state land, we have always tried (hopelessly) to make EVERY artifact and specimen available to the public. All of those in the collections at ENMU are. I work with ranches that may collect a lot of stuff but most never make them available to anyone (with some great exceptions). We have had a particularly hard time getting things back into New Mexico and that makes it hard for anyone to ever build a clear picture of what has occurred at this site.

    • Maybe you take issue with the royal “we” when I speak as part of the State of New Mexico?
      Do you think I’m asking for people to give us things from their own property? Nope, just ours. And I don’t go by what I hear, I do know this history of the land on which I am the current steward, so I am familiar with the legal ins-and-outs here.

      • Doc' & CJ says:


        Thanks for your reply, but most importantly thank you for all you do to preserve and protect the Blackwater site and archaeology in general. Despite my previous sarcasm, I’m actually a supporter of your work, and that of all other Archaeologists be they Professional, Avocational or amateur. I suspect you and I have more in common than we do differences. Given the opportunity, I’d love nothing more than to visit the site with you and pick your brain, then later enjoy a little Fiddlin’ over some strong coffee. Actually, that’s the kind of stuff dreams are made of for a guy like me.

        With that said, the point of my “cute” but sarcastic comment was to point out the growing gap between Professional Archaeology (Academia) and the public they serve. Like yourself, I see a defined need for the protection of irreplaceable archaeological sites and artifacts. But also like yourself, I don’t care one bit for anyone telling me I MUST handover my metaphorical “Fiddle” much less when and how I will be “allowed” to play it henceforth. That approach to music kinda takes away the whole meaning and beauty of music itself. Wouldn’t you agree?

        Now let me make this very clear right now; I do NOT buy artifacts of any kind, I have never been to the Blackwater site although I have driven through Portales once years ago. So rest assured, I do not possess any artifacts from the Blackwater site nor any other location in New Mexico. I have seen a few that were allegedly collected in the same area, but only one I thought would be of any significance. And it was eventually sold for some un-Godly amount of money. I absolutely despise the buying and selling of any artifact, and I directly blame those who do so for not only the wholesale rape of the archaeological record, but also the perpetuation of continued destruction. Not to mention the aforementioned “gap” between the Academic and public interests. Therein lies the rub.

        I recently proposed a rather “radical solution” to this growing problem directly to a very large and diverse community of private artifact collectors. (I actually have most of it in written form if you’re interested) In short, I suggested that returning the artifacts to their original position after first analyzing, recording, and indelibly marking them would be the best option for all concerned. I’m sure you can imagine the response I received. Many years and many experiences had led me to this conclusion, and I’m not one who often compromises on any given subject. But I was not even given the chance to support my position. The experience left me bitter and in effect has taken much of the joy out of archaeology for me.

        The point is, I was once a young beginner who eventually developed a real passion for artifact collecting and archaeological knowledge over a period of decades. My beliefs on the matter have evolved over the years as much as my knowledge has. In all honesty George, my life has literally been shaped by my love for collecting in many profound ways that I never expected. (this exchange is yet another good example)

        I’d hate to think that anyone would be denied the same opportunity in their own lives. For any reason.

        I’m almost optimistic that someday soon there will be a “meeting of the minds” between the two factions, some of the amateurs I have known have more technical and revolutionary knowledge/evidence than 90% of today’s Professionals. And that is a resource that can not be squandered over pettiness and rivalry.

        I have no solutions, I wish I did. But I can tell you this much;

        Americans have grown very weary of being told what they can and cannot do, and increasing governmental powers at any level is the surest way of increasing the distrust of a government that is already completely out of control. This issue involves much more than the subject at hand, but it is also symptomatic of the main problem that affects us all as a nation.

        Surely as bright, as passionate, and as interested as we all are, we can find some common grounds to stand beside each other on.


  2. Nicholas l unger says:

    Keep up the good work,BWD is important to history and to us in the present and for the next days

    • hanks! I hope we can make something that lasts. We are in it for the long haul and hope to be able to pass on information that will be available to all hundreds of years down the road.

  3. Ben Swadley says:

    It is excellent that you will have the chance to update your exhibits. I have not seen the present ones, but I have seen what you are describing at many other archeological sites and museums. Our exhibits say a lot about our institutions and whether our parent organizations/administrations neglect us or feel we are important. By “we,” and “our,” I mean archeological sites and archeological parks. I am superintendent at another National Landmark, and we are greatly supported by our parent organization. It is a wonderful thing.

    It is frustrating when artifacts from our sites are the possessions of someone other than us. Archeological sites are like a book in a sense, and if you rip a few pages out and someone else has them, people can still read the book and get a pretty good idea of what it is about, but without those missing pages, no one may read the whole book. For instance, Clarence B. Moore did some fine work for a person of his day and most of what collected is in DC, not on exhibit, and not for anyone from the public to see, but I assume researchers have access. It would be nice if those sites and states that have the ability to properly care for these artifacts could have them for exhibit and study. More pages of the book could be read by more people.

    I won’t even go into private collectors past what I have said about Moore who really doesn’t fit that mold. Paleo Indian artifacts are rare and there is a world of information in each piece. They are valuable in many ways.

    I wish you luck and I look forward to visiting your site and the museum. It is on my “to do” list among other sites of world and national importance. Congratulations on getting some funding. It is always a great achievement.

    • Thanks Ben. I’m sure we have the same issues in common. “We” the custodians of an archaeological research collection, would like to present a full picture. Your analogy of the book is a good one and I always dislike thinking that the single pages are stuck in shoe boxes under beds or hung in frames in the back room of a house for no one to see. I’m sure you know that the Clovis site has been a heavy target for the unscrupulous for 80+ years and we have had great luck with people/institutions returning things to SHARE with the world (our mission). Few people realize the shear number of requests we get to examine our utilize our collections for legitimate purposes. Being severely understaffed I often have to postpone people’s work as there are not enough hours in the week while managing the many-headed hydra of a state-owned, federally-inspected, open to the public site.

      I hope to see you here sometime. Hopefully, we will be able to create something worth seeing.

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