Exploring the Southwest
Anthropology professor Aaron Lampman and several students took a whirlwind tour of the Southwestern United States this past summer to experience firsthand the beauty and complexity of Native American culture.
“We focused on cultures both past and present, ranging from A.D. 1000 all the way to present times…to explore the relationship of those groups with the environment,” Lampman said.
Lampman and his students ventured across much of the Southwest, traveling to ancient Puebloan sites including Chaco Canyon, Aztec ruins, Mesa Verde, and Bandelier. They rose at 4:30 a.m. to witness the majesty of the summer solstice in the great Casa Riconada ruin. The group’s adventures took them across a vast swath of the US to experience rafting down the San Juan River, examining petroglyphs (an ancient form of rock painting), and riding in a helicopter over the the Grand Canyon.
Along the way students met with members of the Navajo and Havasupai to learn about their cultures and understand how Native American traditions persist in modern society.
“Throughout the experience,” noted Lampman, “students examined how Native American tribes made a living, how they developed material and social complexity, how the environment played a role in shaping their cultures and, in turn, how those cultures shaped the environment.”
With the program’s first year a resounding success, Lampman hopes that he and fellow architect of the expedition, Prof. Julie Markin, will be able to put this seminar on a regular two-year rotation.