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Archaeologists coming to Presidio

April 20th, 2017 under Community

PRESIDIO — The Center for Big Bend Studies (CBBS) of Sul Ross State University and the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) of Mexico are beginning a series of archaeological studies in the Big Bend and the border region of Presidio, Texas, and Ojinaga, Chihuahua, known historically as La Junta de los Ríos.  The organizations will host a press conference and reception at the Presidio Trading Post and Cantina on Wednesday, April 26 at 6 p.m.

This binational work plan arises from the importance of preserving, conserving, investigating and disseminating the shared cultural heritage between the United States and Mexico.

La Junta de los Ríos was a cultural crossroads where native peoples farmed and hunted in a rich, alluvial valley and lived in villages that bristled with trade activity. When the Spanish arrived at La Junta from the silver mining area of Parral, Chihuahua in 1581, they found settlements of flat-roofed houses and natives which they called Patarabueyes growing crops. At this time, the Spaniards also interacted with Jumano Indians, transient hunter-gatherers and traders in the region who spent part of the year at La Junta. About a hundred years later, in 1683, Juan Domínguez de Mendoza and three Franciscan priests traveled from the El Paso area and established some of the first Missions in Texas at La Junta.

Over the last two years, Andy Cloud (Director of CBBS), Antonio Huitron (National Director of Sites Operations of INAH), Jose Aguilar (Director of INAH Coahuila), and Bill Millet (filmmaker and CBBS advisor) have worked to frame an international agreement between CBBS and INAH, that would for the first time give archaeologists from Mexico and the USA the ability to work side by side on significant archaeological projects on both sides of the border.  This effort will be manifested in the Big Bend and La Junta de los Ríos on April 24–27, when a team of archaeologists and specialists from INAH Coahuila, INAH Chihuahua, and INAH Centro join a CBBS archaeology team to begin the collaboration at several important historical sites.

“The CBBS and INAH are natural partners as we have common goals and a shared legacy during both historic and prehistoric times. We anticipate the La Junta project will be the first of many collaborations that will benefit our understanding of the past in both countries, and are thrilled at the chance to work with our Mexican counterparts, something we have long desired to do” Cloud stated.

From his office in Mexico City, Antonio Huitron issued the following statement: “This binational work and the upcoming itinerary in La Junta de los Rios is an important effort to consolidate the initiative for a Memorandum of Understanding between INAH and the Center for Big Bend Studies – Sul Ross State University.  This MOU will look for the expansion and strengthening of international cooperation on academic and professional actions, such as research, conservation, dissemination and management of binational and transboundary cultural heritage, valuable for Mexico and the United States.”

The team of archaeologists from INAH and CBBS will also be examining several sites located within or near the border town of Presidio, including a Lipan-Apache cemetery.  “Presidio is proud of our past.  Discovering and sharing our history is important to us. I appreciate the efforts of INAH and CBBS and the Bi-National efforts to discover our ancestry in the LaJunta region,” said Presidio Mayor John Ferguson.

On Wednesday, April 26, at 6pm, the Mayor and the Presidio Municipal Development District will host a press conference with INAH and CBBS officials to recognize this unique cross-border relationship and to spotlight the condition of the Lipan-Apache cemetery and other historic sites in the Big Bend.

Reception to be held at 7:00 p.m., April 26, 2017, at the Presidio Trading Post and Cantina.

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