Each March, Arizona State Parks sponsors Archeology and Heritage Awareness Month.  Groups throughout Arizona sponsor events that provide education about our Native American and pioneer history.   This year, several presentations are being offered on the Red Rock Ranger District. At these events, you can learn how indigenous people thrived in this area for thousands of years. All events are free and open to the public.

On Friday March 6th from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 pm at the Red Rock Visitor Center Peter Pilles, Coconino National Forest archaeologist will discuss the rock art styles of every ancient culture that has lived in the Verde Valley area. Pilles will show examples from each culture, and will discuss the unique styles of rock art that distinguish each culture

Then, on Friday March 13th from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 pm at the Red Rock Visitor Center Wendy Hodgson and Andrew Salywon will present “Pre-Columbian Agaves in the Southwest – Discovering Lost Crops among the Hohokam and the Verde Valley Cultures”.  At this talk, you’ll learn the many ways that Native people utilized this amazing plant.

Jake Newhouse will discuss the petroglyphs and solar calendar at the V Bar V Heritage Site on Saturday March 21st from 12:30 to 2:00. At this Spring Equinox presentation, you can learn about the people who made over 1000 petroglyphs at the site, and how they used the solar calendar to help them know when to plant their crops.

Archeology and Heritage Awareness Month wraps up on the Red Rock District on Saturday March 28th from 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. at the V Bar V Heritage Site when Bob Erb will demonstrate a wide variety of ancient technology tools commonly used by Native Americans of this region.  Bob is expert at explaining how indigenous people people made and used tools.

In Addition, on Friday April 3, Jim Wilson will present “Ancient Melodies: An Anasazi Legacy of Native American Flutes”. Jim is a docent at V Bar V Heritage Site and is a long-time Friends of the Forest member. His presentation will trace the development of the flute from pre-historic times to the modern flute we know today. He’ll introduce you to flute styles, composition and playing techniques.  Jim is a student of our local Native American heritage and regularly conducts flute workshops.

You may have noticed that the V Bar V petroglyph site was closed to the public in February. The Forest Service embarked on the first phase of an extensive project to construct a visitor-friendly viewing area at the site.  Those of you who have visited V Bar V know that the ground there is sloped, uneven and awkward to stand on.  This project will result in a gradual ramp leading up to a level viewing area.  Since there are irreplaceable artifacts under current ground level, rather than sinking posts into the ground and installing decking, the entire viewing area will consist of fill and retaining walls. For those of you who haven’t yet seen the wonders of V Bar V, March is a perfect time to make your first visit. One of the Friends of the Forest Docents, like Jim Wilson, will introduce you to the Sinagua and to this amazing petroglyph site.

Our docents may even tempt you to visit the other spectacular ancient sites in the area: the cliff dwelling and pictographs at Palatki and Honanki, the remains of an extensive pueblo and the beautiful visitor center museum at Tuzigoot, the Montezuma Well ruins, and the spectacular Montezuma Castle cliff dwelling.

I became a docent for Friends of the Forest because I became fascinated by the indigenous peoples who inhabited our area, and wanted to learn more about them.  I knew that if I were to try to explain their cultures to visitors, I would need to do educate myself.  With the help of Friends of the Forest leaders Jerry Walters and Spence Gustav, I began building a storehouse of information that I could share. Serving as a volunteer docent at V Bar V and Palatki has proved to be even more rewarding than I anticipated. I look forward to every outing, particularly the smiles on the faces of visitors as they learn about the creativity and ingenuity of the ancients.

If you’re interested in becoming a docent for Friends of the Forest, and helping introduce visitors to our Native American heritage, or if you just want to learn more about Friends of the Forest, you can contact us via our web site: www.friendsoftheforestsedona.org.


Serving Sedona, written this week by Craig Swanson of Sedona Friends of the Forest, appears Wednesday in the Sedona Red Rock News.