Wupatki National Monument, home to 5,000 indigenous sites, will be preserved
Wupatki National Monument is one of the most important natural, historical and cultural centers in North America. In addition to its unique red rock landscape populated by hares, coyotes and eagles, the 56 square mile park in north-central Arizona is home to more than 5,000 Indigenous archaeological sites. One, the Wupatki Pueblo, is a 900-year-old multi-room stone masonry complex that once housed the ancestors of the Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, Yavapai, Havasupai, Hualapai, Apache, and Paiute.
“Wupatki tells a long and irreplaceable story of human experience on earth through time,” said Ian Hough, archaeologist and cultural resources program manager at Flagstaff Area National Monuments. But this important symbol of human history and indigenous culture – which attracts some 200,000 visitors each year – is in peril. Centuries of seismic instability, flooding and debris slides have threatened the park’s precious heritage for centuries, but increasing extreme weather events from global warming have accelerated the deterioration of vulnerable structures at an alarming rate.
In response, the Getty awarded $ 1.3 million to the Center for Architectural Conservation at the University of Pennsylvania’s Stuart Weitzman School of Design. The funds will support the development of a conservation and management plan for the site, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary within the National Parks Service (NPS) in 2024. The Penn’s Center for Architectural Conservation is a long-time collaborator of the NPS, but the beneficiaries will also be partners of the Wupatki Cultural Resources Program, the Vanishing Treasures Program and the Western Center for Historic Preservation. Another team led by Paulo Lourenço, professor of civil engineering at the Portuguese University of Minho and specialist in historical masonry, will study Wupatki’s stone and earth mortar construction systems. Together, the teams hope to develop innovative solutions to address Wupatki’s challenges that can also be applied to other climate-vulnerable cultural and natural heritage sites in the future.
Another goal is to address the current conditions and threats to the delicate structures and landscape of Wupatki through a perspective more informed by indigenous values and practices. To this end, the Penn team and its partners will draw on a network of members and professionals from the local Indigenous community. They will also work with the Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps of Conservation Legacy to provide vocational training, cultural heritage education, and career discovery opportunities to tribal youth in northern Arizona, launching internship programs. been for native students through Northern Arizona University. This part of the project aims to empower the next generation to responsibly manage Wupatki’s rich natural, historical and cultural heritage.
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