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VVAC Celebrates Archaeology and Heritage Awareness

The Verde Valley Archaeology Center and Museum celebrated Arizona Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month throughout March with a variety of programs and events that highlighted the local history, archaeology, and cultures of the Verde Valley region. 

“The State of Arizona is fortunate to have such rich and diverse cultures represented to this day,” said Monica Buckle, Executive Director. 

The Indigenous cultures, heritage sites, and archaeology are represented, as well as the historic archaeology from the time when settlers came into Arizona. 

“There's much variety with Arizona's archaeology and historic archaeology,” said Buckle. 

To kick off archaeology month, VVAC hosted a two-day course on the archaeology of the Verde Valley with Ken Zoll, Director Emeritus. Zoll’s class covered the history of the people in the region, from the Paleoindian and Archaic people to the Yavapai-Apache entrance to the area. The class was sold out and remains in such high demand that VVAC has added the class in April for those who were unable to reserve a spot. Please visit VVAC's website to register for the Friday, April the 5th class.

To continue celebrating archaeology month, Dr. Todd W. Bostwick hosted a lecture titled “Stonehenge: Old and New Ideas About the World’s Most Famous Megalithic Temple” on March 7th at the Courtyard by Marriott Sedona. 

Dr. Bostwick is a renowned Southwestern archaeologist and was the City of Phoenix Archaeologist for nearly 30 years before serving as VVAC’s Director of Archaeology for nine years. 

“We broadened our horizon by offering a talk about Stonehenge and were fortunate to have Dr. Bostwick serve as a guest presenter for us,” said Buckle. 

There are many parallels with Stonehenge to the Verde Valley, specifically the solar and lunar calendars such as the one at The Crane Petroglyph Site. 

“I love emphasizing parallels with various cultures that have technological achievements,” said Buckle. “We're lucky that here in the Verde Valley we have these cultural and technological achievements of the Ancestral Hopi.” 

VVAC also partnered with Museum of Northern Arizona to give a tour of their Easton Collection Center for VVAC members. 

“As a museum we branch out to partner institutions that we have superb working relationships with,” said Buckle. “Museum of Northern Arizona is an exceptional friend to VVAC and we are most fortunate to have had an exclusive behind-the-scenes tour of the Easton Collection Center given by Tony Thibodeau, Director of Research and Collections, and Signe Valentinsson, Collections Manager.” 

The ECC houses the majority of MNA’s collection in a secure and protected archival environment while providing a space that is both architecturally and environmentally innovative.  

“The integrity of how the collection is curated and MNA's thoughtfulness consulting with tribal collaborators for their involvement with every step of the process for the Easton Collection Center is phenomenal work. Plus the facility is out-of-this-world,” said Buckle. “The work that we're doing here at VVAC is on a smaller scale than the Easton Collection Center but nonetheless, it's of the same significance being stewards to precious artifacts, preserving culture, and the continuity of culture.” 

The celebration of the month culminated in Beaver Creek Heritage Days, the main event of March. Formerly known as V-V Days, this year’s event included a renaming ceremony that commemorated the name change of V-V Heritage Site to The Crane Petroglyph Site. 

Stewart Koyiyumptewa of the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office led the renaming effort and spoke at the event. 

“What an accomplishment in my heart to see this name change happen,” said Koyiyumptewa. 

Dr. Peter Pilles, Archaeologist for Coconino National Forest, also spoke about the cultural and archaeological significance of the site. 

The USFS uncovered the brand new signs that read the site’s new name and put them up. 

This year’s event drew over 600 visitors, making it the most successful year attendance wise.

“Beaver Creek heritage days was an overwhelming success,” said Buckle. “A special thank you is in order to the Forest Service, Arizona Archaeological Society: Verde Valley Chapter and Friends of the Forest for all their efforts and contirubutions to make it an event to remember.” 

“The event's attendance numbers shows you that people are curious and they want to know more about Indigenous technologies and modes of existence,” said Buckle. “Not only that, but to try and better appreciate the significance of the rock art and how its imagery is interconnected to this very day.” 

There was a member’s hike to Sacred Mountain, a Southern Sinagua site, with Richard McGraw on March 22nd. Participants were able to see a ballcourt, waffle gardens, and a sun watcher’s station, all built between 1100 AD and 1360 AD when the site was occupied. 

VVAC is a nonprofit organization and is not Federally or State funded. The only Federal or State grants VVAC receives is for specific research projects, not for the museum's overall maintenance and monthly expenses.  

“It's crucial VVAC is always relevant in the eyes of the community,” said Buckle. “We serve as a place for learning and furthering our understanding within the scope of humanity. We do all of these events, workshops, and courses to enhance everyone's lives.” 

VVAC strives to make its museum collections and exhibits accessible to everyone and to be an integral part of the Verde Valley community. 

“We love to offer so much to our members and the public at large in hopes that it will be reciprocated with memberships, donations, endowments, and planned giving,” said Buckle. 

VVAC is expanding its youth programs and workshops yet is in need of funding to supply materials for these programs. All children's programs are free of charge for participants and their families. If anyone is interested in being a sponsor for youth programs, email

“It's important to get the next generation interested in being stewards of the past,” said Buckle. 

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