What kind of behavior is appropriate around such important discoveries? Can we touch these markings without degrading them further? Can we show them to the public? How do our tribal partners feel about such finds? How do they affect land management decisions?
The questions led to a partnership with the local Tribal Historic Preservation Officer (THPO) Shawn Padi of the Hopland Band of Pomo Indians and a public event at Hopland, “Archaeology for All." The Oct. 10 event featured UC Berkeley archaeologist Donna Gillette and THPO's Padi and Hillary Renick.
As one of the nine UC Agriculture and Natural Resources Research and Extension Centers (RECs) across California, Hopland REC offers opportunities for research projects across a variety of disciplines, particularly those requiring rangeland, oak woodland and chaparral environments. While respecting that need, the center managers are also committed to being exemplary stewards of the land, setting examples and raising awareness as methods are changed and improved.
Gillette began research at HREC in 2006, when it became evident that some of the ancient petroglyph style markings on the 5,358-acre site were thought to date back two millennia. Many of these markings take the form of circles carved into large rocks and are described as “pecked, curvilinear, nucleated” markings (PCNs). Gillette's work indicated that these markings were in fact between 5,000 to 8,000 years old, pre-dating Pomo culture (as we know it).
Over 100 members of the public attended the Oct. 10 event to discuss local history and cultural markings that might be found on the landscape. They learned why it is important to leave any discoveries of artifacts or markings just as found and report them to a local THPO. Children got the chance to become archaeologists themselves and saw directly how difficult it can be to piece together history when pieces of the story might have been removed or broken.
The challenge of balancing current demands on natural resources and culturally important sites can be complex. However, learning from the history of people in the area is a vital step in understanding sustainable use and behavior for the future. The Hopland Research and Extension Center has benefited greatly from relationships such as those with local THPOs. Their knowledge is integral to future land management decisions.
Author: Hannah Bird