Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fourth Grade Fans

"Miraculous" "Special" "Awesome" "Knowledgeable" "Grateful"

We love hearing about people's experiences here at Pueblo Grande Museum. Especially when they come with crayon illustrations!

Thank you to the 4th grade class from Mesa Academy who sent their Docents some super fun and very complimentary letters about what they liked most during their visit. We love our volunteer Docents too, and it's because of them that we can offer such great experiences to the thousands of school children that visit Pueblo Grande annually.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Take a Journey of the Mind at Pueblo Grande Museum

On the evening of December 2, Pueblo Grande Museum will premiere The Unknown Symbols: A Journey of the Mind, an original film with live music by artist Oliverio Balcells. This multimedia piece invites audiences to take a journey of colors and textures through city ambiance and nature that engages audiences through evocative images filmed throughout the Valley of the Sun. Original live and recorded music accompanying this piece allows audiences to re-discover their surroundings as they follow the travels of the films' main character as he discovers himself and his place in this world.

A scholar of the ancient Mesoamerican cultures, photographer, painter, and musician, Balcells says "I am interested in social themes like history, culture, human potential development, symbolism and nature. I’m inspired by color, the ancient Mexican cultures, the master muralists and the golden age of Mexican cinema.”

Balcells has multiple public art pieces which can be seen in Tempe, and soon in Phoenix, as a selected 2017 artist for Valley Metro’s public art for the Northwest extension of the light rail. He draws inspiration not only from Mesoamerican cultures, but also from our desert surroundings here in Arizona. The Unknown Symbols highlights landscapes that people often forget are part of our diverse urban environment, and includes scenes filmed at the Salt River, South Mountain, Papago Park, and downtown Phoenix.

With this multimedia presentation, Balcells shares "This piece can be anybody's story. It is my story. I want to inspire people to recognize their true spirit, reconnect with nature and enjoy the present moment." The short film follows a single character, who is mysteriously covered in symbols, and searching through urban and desert environments to find answers. The symbols, according to Balcells, represent Vibration, Consciousness, Gratitude, Action, Inspiration. And they are there to remind the protagonist and the audience through this "Journey of the mind, to find the self with a purpose, and to be aware of what it means to be alive."

Following the performance, the audience will have the opportunity to meet the artist and discuss the film. This after-hours event is free and open to the public, donations are welcome. Doors open at 6 p.m. and performance begins at 6:30 p.m. with open seating. Light refreshments of hot chocolate, coffee, and desserts will also be available during this performance set under the night sky, on the back patio of Pueblo Grande Museum, framed by the ancient platform mound built by the Hohokam people.

Performance Details: 
Date: Saturday, December 2, 2017
Time: Doors at 6 p.m., Performance at 6:30 p.m., Artist Meet & Greet at 7:30 p.m.
Cost: Free, Donations Welcome
Place: Pueblo Grande Museum Back Patio (performance will be moved indoors if weather requires)

Biography and Artist Statement

Oliverio Balcells is a scholar of the ancient Mesoamerican cultures, photographer, painter and musician. 

“I’m interested in social themes like history, culture, human potential development, symbolism and nature. I’m inspired by color, the ancient Mexican cultures, the master muralists and the golden age of Mexican cinema.”

In 2017 he was a selected artist for Valley Metro’s public art for the Northwest extension of the light rail. In 2016 he was a selected artist for the In Flux Cycle 6 with the City of Tempe and painted a mural on Apache Blvd. In 2012 he was selected by the City of Tempe’s Public Art Program to design and paint a utility box on Mill Avenue.  The image was also made into a library card for the Tempe Public Library. In 2008 Oliverio was awarded First Place at the Arte Latino en la Ciudad XII at the Phoenix Center for the Arts and in 1999 he was awarded Best Artist in the 7th Annual Plastic Arts Exhibit of Cancun. 

Oliverio Balcells received his Bachelor’s degree in Graphic Design from the Univa University in Guadalajara, Mexico.  

He currently lives and works in Tempe, Arizona, USA with his wife and two children.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

PGM Artifact of the Month

Meet Pueblo Grande Museum Artifact of the Month

This early Sacaton Red-on-buff bowl was found at a site in the western portion of the Phoenix metropolitan area and probably dates between A.D. 900 and 1,050.

Friday, October 13, 2017

The Choice Is Ours…

Indigenous Peoples Day Blog Series (5 of 5) By Guest Blogger Roman Orona, Dancer, Singer, Song-writer, Actor, Lecturer and Craftsman
“…Thou seest how black darkness is enshrouding all regions, how all countries are burning with the flame of dissension, and the fire of war and carnage is blazing throughout the East and the West…” 

We are at a most glorious time in the history of the world.  We are witnessing the prophecies that have been long foretold.  A time that the world and its people are going through a complete cleansing and the bringing in of a new world order.

I have created a performance entitled PROPHECY that talks about this time, by incorporating Native American dancing, songs, storytelling, poems, audio visuals and computer generated visuals. This is an excerpt from PROPHECY:

We as humanity are at a turning point, that our choices today will determine the future course of civilization. Our prophecies have instructed us to travel out into the world and speak of the dangers we face. Our ancestral voices are important for us to hear because they speak from the hearts to remain true to live in the way of unity in diversity, establishing harmony with one another and with all living things.

Soon the whole world, as in springtime, will change its garb. The turning and falling of the autumn leaves is past; the bleakness of the winter time is over. The new year hath appeared and the spiritual springtime is at hand. The black earth is becoming a verdant garden; the deserts and mountains are teeming with red flowers; from the borders of the wilderness the tall grasses are standing like advance guards before the cypress and jessamine trees; while the birds are singing among the rose branches like the angels in the highest heavens, announcing the glad-tidings of the approach of that spiritual spring, and the sweet music of their voices is causing the real essence of all things to move and quiver.  

Let us shed our thoughts of old, let us reinvigorate ourselves, let us forgive, let us become this greater humanity foretold to us, let us dance together as one under the branches of the lote-tree (the tree which there is no passing), that “then again will the tree of humanity blossom and bring forth the fruit of righteousness for the healing of nations.”  We all have a part to play in making this prophecy come true.  We can choose to make it happen now or be forced to make it happen. 

The choice is ours!

By Roman Orona

For More Information Visit:

Roman Orona (ish hish itsaatsu is his Apache name meaning “One Who Dances With/Like Eagles”) is an internationally acclaimed dancer, singer, song-writer, actor, lecturer and craftsman. His work is often noted for its unique blend of power, passion and inspiration. Roman is Apache (Chiricahua, Jicarilla and Lipan), Pueblo (Taos and Isleta) and Yaqui.  It was from his deep family roots that Roman learned his extensive foundation in his faith, values, traditions, and native culture in which he works extensively in preserving.  Roman maintains a consistent dedication in all his work.  His goal is to teach balance in all aspects of life, world peace, equality of men and women, environmental and cultural preservation, racial equality and the abandonment of all forms of prejudice.  Roman works to illustrate all individuals are related through the common thread humanity.  In being human, Roman says, “We all have a responsibility to each other, for each other, for the betterment of all human kind.”  In 2016, Roman was awarded the Best Male Vocalist Award at the Native American Music Awards (NAMMY’s).  He has also started a video project to promote unity of humanity called #iamHUMAN.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Any Friend of Chief’s…

Indigenous Peoples Day Blog Series (4 of 5) By Guest Blogger J. Andrew Darling, Southwest Heritage Research, LLC

When I think about it, it is ironic. After nearly 20 years working in Arizona, one of the more profound moments in my career as an archaeologist happened to take place on 7th Street in Greenwich Village, New York City in February of 2013. My trip was cobbled together from various research projects but the main mission, and this may seem particularly unremarkable, was to visit the Village Vanguard, one of New York City’s most venerable, basement jazz clubs that opened in 1935. I wasn’t there to hear music and I wasn’t looking for Miles Davis, or John Coltrane, or Dizzy Gillespie. I was searching for the late Russell ‘Big Chief’ Moore. It was a relatively mild winter’s day and I happened to arrive in the middle of the afternoon. 

Allow me to explain…

In 1973, during off hours, the O’odham jazz legend and trombonist, Russell ‘Big Chief’ Moore, recorded an album at the Village Vanguard.  The album was produced by Jazz Art, a short-lived, record company run by a man named Phil Stein. The first album was recorded under the title, Russell ‘Big Chief’ Moore’s Pow Wow Jazz Band.  The second, Russell “Big Chief” Moore, Vol. II, was released in 1978, and consisted mostly of previously recorded material from various years and as far away as Paris. 
Phil Stein, who was a former assistant to David Siquieros, the Mexican Muralist, and later his biographer, also was a painter and muralist, who adopted the pseudonym, Estaño.  Stein had an interest in the Village Vanguard, or more specifically, his sister, Lorraine, who was married to the owner, Max Gordon.  Stein also had famously painted the untitled mural that still can be seen in the back of the club and he adorned the Jazz Art album covers with his own portraits of Big Chief.

Russell Moore, for his part, had achieved some measure of international fame with Louis Armstrong for his contribution to the very successful album Hello Dolly in the early 1960s and for his work as a member of the All Stars.  The first Jazz Art recording at the Village Vanguard with Russell Moore as leader, however, was unique and represented a milestone in the career of this distinguished jazz musician.

Russell Moore was born in Gila Crossing, Arizona in 1912 in the Gila River Indian Community.  He came from a talented family of writers and musicians and for a time he and his brother Everett Moore, who was a piano player, spent a portion of their youth with their uncle, William T. Moore, in Blue Island, Illinois near Chicago. Uncle Bill was from Gila Crossing, too, and a multi-talented instrumentalist and band director.  Another relative, Anna Moore Shaw, also from Gila Crossing, authored multiple books on O’odham history and culture.  In 1929, while standing on the street outside the Savoy Ballroom in Chicago, the underage Russell Moore heard Louis Armstrong play for the first time.  This was enough to set him on the path toward a career in jazz music that, until his passing in Nyack, New York in 1983, would span nearly five decades. 

As a testament to his talent, Moore played with many of the more prominent musicians in American jazz history including not just Louis Armstrong, but Lionel Hampton, Ernie Fields, Sydney Bechet, Billie Holiday, Frank Sinatra, Charlie Parker and many others.  He also managed to play in all of the famed Jazz Cities in the United States: New York, New Orleans, Los Angeles, Kansas City, St. Louis and Chicago.  He even made it back to Phoenix to play in the well-remembered Riverside Ballroom.  Later in his career, Russell Moore, brought jazz music to the reservations in a way that often reminds me of Louis Armstrong’s international jazz ambassadorship for the US State Department.

Russell Moore was unique in that he fully embraced his Native American identity during his career as an American jazz musician.  Since 2012, exhibits and articles have appeared regularly to commemorate his life and music (2012, incidentally, was both the 100th anniversary of Russell Moore’s birth and the Arizona state centennial).  These include an exhibit produced by the National Museum of the American Indian located in the old Customs House in New York City, the Musical Instrument Museum in Scottsdale, Arizona, and the Huhugam Heritage Center in the Gila River Indian Community.  Just last July, an article by Douglas Yeo, Professor Emeritus of Trombone at Arizona State University, appeared in the International Trombone Association Journal featuring rarely seen images of Russell Moore as well as links to other articles and information. Robert Jackson, a reporter for the Gila River Indian News, also acknowledged Yeo’s article last month, in a piece that describes Russell Moore’s life, musicianship and contributions to jazz.  Finally, the recently released and much acclaimed documentary, Rumble, is a comprehensive treatment on Native American contributions to popular music that also recognizes the late, great Russell Moore.

There’s a lot more that could be said about Russell Moore but I should finish my story.  So…there I was, standing in front of the Village Vanguard in the middle of the afternoon on a weekday staring at the bright red awning printed in bold white letters.  At that hour, I already knew that the front door would be locked.  So, I dialed their number.  An understandably bewildered gentleman answered the phone and I identified myself as an archaeologist, who had come to see the room where Pow Wow jazz was recorded.  He paused for a bit and then exclaimed, “CHIEF! You’re a friend of Big Chief! Well, any friend of Big Chief is a friend of ours!”

He ran up the long flight of stairs, threw open the door, and escorted me down to the empty club, where I was invited to look around, to sit, and spend as much time as I wanted with Estaño’s mural.  

I never knew the late Russell Moore, but at that moment I felt that suddenly we were the best of friends.  If you ever get to New York City, there’s a little bit of Gila Crossing, Arizona that still lingers in a jazz club on 7th Street in Greenwich Village.

J. Andrew Daring received his Ph.D. In Anthropology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1998.  He is the former Director of the Cultural Resource Management Program, Gila River Indian Community and is currently a co-owner of Southwest Heritage Research, LLC.  Darling also holds adjunct affiliations with the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University in Tempe and the Department of Anthropology, Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Created From Clay

Indigenous Peoples Day Blog Series (3 of 5) By Guest Blogger Ron Carlos, Piipaash Potter

I decided to share a very small portion of the Piipaash Creation Story because many times the dominant culture forgets there were people living in the Americas long before the first European set foot on this continent.  As Indigenous People, we are still here and we have our own stories about the world and its inhabitants. 

And as an Indigenous Person living in the American Southwest, I can see all the mountains, rivers, plants and animals spoken of in our creation. It is an awesome feeling to know the location of our creation. But it is a very humbling feeling to actually stand on the “Tall Mountain” named as the place of creation for all life.

I’m going to say “Sorry.” in advance for such a short excerpt but the story can be very long.

In the Piipaash Creation all living things were created from clay. The elements, plants and animals were each made and given their time and specific place on the earth.
“The People” were the last creations made by the Brother Creators. The two brothers made their own version of what they thought was the best type of person. 
Once each Brother finished their people, they showed each other their creations. The Brothers began to squabble as to which of their creations were better. 
“The People” watched and listened as the Brother Creators argued. For this reason, all people have a little jealousy in them.

Ron Carlos is descended from both Pima and Maricopa tribes and is an enrolled tribal member of the Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community. Ron produces “paddle and anvil" pottery, which is a unique style of pottery making and indicative of the southern Arizona tribes; i.e. Maricopa, Pima, Tohono O’Odham.
"All my pottery is constructed from all natural materials. All clays and pigments are hand dug and hand processed into a workable paste. Also… all my vessels are wood fired in an open pit using mesquite and /or cottonwood bark.
The pottery knowledge and skills were taught to me by the late Phyllis Cerna and her daughter Avis Pinon, both from Gila River Indian Community District #7 - Maricopa Colony. 
My pottery journey began in June 1994 and for the past 10+ years I have been demonstrating and teaching classes at various museums and Native American Communities throughout Arizona."

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

1492: Lost, Gained, and Ever Changing

Indigenous Peoples Day Blog Series (2 of 5) By Guest Blogger Jewel Touchin, Senior Archaeologist - Logan Simpson
Jewel in prehistoric canal
Did you know there are more than 560 federally recognized tribes in the United States and that 22 of those tribes are present within the state of Arizona? Did you know that within the Navajo Nation alone there are approximately 90 clans, each with their own stories describing their origins and evolution? Imagine how many Native American communities there once were in the Americas! I think the general public both in America and internationally don’t realize that Native American cultures still exist today and when they actually are aware of our contemporary presence, the majority don’t spend much time trying to contemplate the amount of change Native people have experienced since 1492. Native Americans have experienced an exponential amount of change in the centuries past and continue to experience change today. I think the general public isn’t cognizant of Native American history because it’s not discussed in classrooms across the country. It’s not part of the average school curriculum and it’s not explained in school textbooks. It should be discussed, learned, and cherished by everyone because ultimately it’s a very rich history, a foundation that ultimately evolved into American history.

With regards to the topic of change, a very surficial example of the amount of change Native people have experienced can be seen when one considers population estimates in the City of Phoenix and compares that with population estimates in the year 1492. In 2015, the U.S. Census estimates that there were approximately 1.5 million people in the City of Phoenix. Take a moment to imagine the knowledge encapsulated in the city today amongst those 1.5 million individuals. Think of all the doctors, nurses, engineers, teachers, construction workers and laborers, musicians, seamstresses, physicists, chemists, botanists, farmers, biologists, astronomers, chefs, etc. The knowledge that’s within the city today is monumental. It’s frankly spectacular and irreplaceable!
Map of prehistoric canal system in Salt River Valley, Courtesy of Jerry Howard
Compare those U.S. Census figures with estimates of population in the Americas in 1492. Some scholars estimate there were approximately 100 million people here in 1492. So if we take those numbers and try to draw some correlations, we could say that comparatively speaking there were enough people here in 1492 to fill about 66 cities the size of Phoenix. Even if we use conservative estimates and cut that number in half, 33 cities the size of Phoenix is still an immense amount of people.

After 1492, there was a huge drop in Native American population due to disease, genocide, and other factors. Some scholars estimate that by the year 1650 there were approximately 6 million Native people in the Americas. So basically we go population-wise…from 66 (or 33 if we use conservative estimates) cities the size of Phoenix to 4 cities the size of Phoenix in that short timeframe of approximately 150 years. Four cities!! Imagine the amount of knowledge that would be lost today if we subtracted that many people. It is incredible when we think of things in those terms. That lost knowledge represents unfathomable change in Native American cultures and communities throughout the continents of North and South America.

Canal along south border of Pueblo Grande
We don’t have to look far to see evidence of this knowledge. In Phoenix, we can literally look in our backyards to see the ingenious innovation that prehistoric Native Americans possessed here in the Salt and Gila River valleys. There is blatant evidence of prehistoric engineering and irrigation technology that surpassed systems worldwide. Some of these irrigation systems in fact continue to be used by our current utility companies to service our population today. THAT’S amazing to me. THAT’S something that should be in every history textbook in America.

Despite the changes that have occurred in the past centuries, there’s still a vast amount of knowledge and enormous diversity among tribal communities today. It would be fantastic if the general public could realize that. It would be fantastic if the general public would see what is in front of them: strong, intelligent Native people who know the art of survival.

Jewel Touchin
Senior/Associate Archaeologist at Logan Simpson

Jewel Touchin was born and raised in St. Michaels, Arizona on the Navajo Nation. She is an enrolled member of the Navajo Nation and an Arizona State University (ASU) alumnus. Jewel began her ASU studies as an Aeronautical Engineering major, but after much introspection and discussion with family members regarding Navajo thoughts and beliefs about archaeology, she graduated with a degree in Anthropology. She began her career soon afterwards and currently has more than 23 years of professional experience as an archaeologist in the Southwest. Jewel has worked in various development sectors including transportation, utility infrastructure, and sustainable energy. She has worked with two tribal nations, two engineering firms, and is currently employed with an environmental firm in Tempe.