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Newspaper Archive of
Ajo Copper News
Ajo, Arizona
December 10, 2019     Ajo Copper News
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December 10, 2019
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Tuesday, December 10, 2019 Ajo, Pima County, Arizona Volume 96, Number 15 ©2019 YOUR HOMETOWN NEWSPAPER SINCE 1916 Intaglio and other sites in peril say archeologists This ancient intaglio, possibly a fish, lies a little more than 20 feet from the border fence. Construction of the border wall may destroy it. Intaglios are giant designs, man-made long ago by engraving, tamping, or scraping away the desert pavement, thus exposing the lighter gravel or soils beneath. The photo was taken by Statistical Research, Inc. with an aerial kite on February 23, 2005. There has been a lot written about concerns that construction of the border wall will irreparably harm Quitobaquito, a sacred site for O’odham, a source of water for time immeasurable for wild- life and travelers, and an archeo- logical site. There are often brief mentions of “other archeological sites” that may be endangered as well. Rick & Sandy Martynec are archeologists who have been working in the Ajo region for the past 22 years. Between the two of them, they have published more than 40 books and peer-reviewed journal articles. Asked about the other sites the wall could disturb or destroy, they wrote: Aside from the well-known archaeological remains at Quitobaquito there are other im- portant sites that are imperiled by the on-going construction of the Border Wall. At least six sites farther west will be directly im- pacted, and another three are near the construction zone known as the Roosevelt Corridor. Two of the sites are important, one is a burial and the other is a rare intaglio. Intaglios or giant ground fig- ures have been observed along the Colorado River, Sierra Pinacate and now in the west- ern Papaguería. Those along the Colorado River have been attrib- uted to Yuman or Patayan groups whereas the images in Sierra Pinacate are thought to have been made by Amargosan Pinacateños, or ancestral O’odham. The figures along the Colorado River are of- ten representational and are most- ly devoid of artifacts or evidence of reuse. This is not the case for those in Sierra Pinacate and the recently discovered intaglio in Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. Many of the latter, includ- ing the Las Playas Intaglio west of Ajo, are complex with indications they were reused and, in some cas- es, over a considerable amount of time. The Las Playas Intaglio mea- sures 84m north-south by 15m east-west and was created by clear- ing the dark colored pebbles form- ing desert pavement and tamping down the underlying light-colored sandy silt 2-3cm below the sur- rounding ground surface thus cre- ating a startling contrasting image. All of the rocks associated with this feature are as dark as the sur- rounding desert pavement and at various points in time rocks have been placed in and around this giant ground figure. A total of ten head-size basalt rocks are in four different locations adjacent to the tamped down areas, and at the south end is a 1.5m diameter cluster of basalt rocks and there is another concentration of six ba- salt rocks blocking a narrow, old, north-south tamped down trail that bisects this feature. Several of the rocks in the cluster at the south end exhibit shell caliche on exposed surfaces. This character- istic, which indicates fairly recent activity, was only observed at this location and on one of the large rocks inside the intaglio. While it is obvious that a ma- jority of the surrounding site is the product of camping episodes, or short-term occupations, the overall impression the Las Playas Intaglio site and the areas sur- rounding it imparts is one of spe- cial purpose. It is apparent that this location held a special mean- ing for the prehistoric and pos- sibly historic inhabitants of this area and, indeed, O’odham elders have confirmed that ceremonies occurred at this locale. The near absence of artifacts in the inta- glio (only two) supports the con- clusion of its special importance, especially when one considers the high number of them elsewhere within the surrounding site. Most of the use of this giant ground figure appears to be old, dating at least to the Formative period (A.D. 800-1500), and pos- sibly even earlier. All of the rocks in the tamped down areas are light colored in distinct contrast with the dark colored surrounding des- ert pavement and, except for the rock concentration at the south end, only one of the large, ancil- lary rocks exhibit shell caliche on exposed surfaces. Because of this it is reasoned that the rock concen- tration at the south end is a recent construct hence signifying reuse, as does the blocked interior trail. The intaglio extends well into the Roosevelt Corridor and the burial is within 15 feet of the cur- rent wall. It is unclear if any effort will be made to preserve either of these sites, or the others along the border since all environmental laws have been suspended for wall construction. Councilors ran unopposed for WPCCC districts December is the month the Western Pima County Community Council holds elections for half of the eleven-seat panel of councilors. Up for grabs this year were seats representing five districts. They included district 3, the midtown district, now represented by Ajo native Mary Pat Keller; district 6, including Why, represented by Why resident Micah Perry; district 8, represented by Adrian Vega; district 10, repre- sented by Scott Warren; and district 10, now represented by Dale Faust. Keller and Faust are newcomers to the council but they ran unop- posed, as did each of the other candidates. As such, ballots were not cast at the meeting. Instead a vote was taken to simply accept the slate of candidates that were running. The audience accepted the candidates as a group with a vote of 19 to 10. The two newcomers will replace Sherry Serventi and Ted Whittemore who served on the council in 2019 but did not seek reelection this year. Lupe Alvarez, chair of the council will be stepping down from that office. The most likely candidate to replace her as chair is Keller. District 2, the eastside district, remains vacant. During the meeting, attendee Corina Mendez expressed interest in serving in that seat. The other councilors could choose to appoint her, helping to fill a council that was created during a time when Ajo was a much larger town. In recent years it has become normal to have a seat vacant, simply because no one volunteered to fill it. Along with the announcements regarding the new seat appointments and Alvarez stepping down as chair, the council said that the next meet- ing, usually held on the first Thursday of the month would be postponed one week. The meeting is rescheduled for January 9. The change of date is to avoid having the meeting on the day after the New Year holiday. In addi- tion, the time for the January 9 meeting will be 6 p.m. not the usual time of 7 p.m. Last Thursday, December 5, Kickstart awards were presented to various Ajo businesses and startups. The presentation was at the Ajo Freeport-McMoRan offices. Recipients are, from left to right, Deborah Mullins (Simply Sandwiches), Nina Sajovec (Ajo CSA), Mary Pat Jennings (Ajo Community Market), Kord Klinefelter (Ajo Community Market), Leba London (Woman from Ajo), Jovita Wallace (Leadership for Sustainable Communities), Aaron Cooper (ISDA), Sergio Hernandez (Tacos el Tarasco Restaurant), Bo Johnson (Ajo C of C), Allan Dunstan (Copper Canyon PRC, LLC), and Hop David (Ajo Copper News). Weather Report TEMPERATURES Max Min Sunday, Dec. 1 64° 36° Monday, Dec. 2 67° 42° Tuesday, Dec. 3 65° 46° Wednesday, Dec. 4 73° 50° Thursday, Dec. 5 70° 49° Weekday weather informa- tion is provided by Freeport- McMoRan. For the week, expect partly cloudy skies, and a predict- ed high of 72˚ and a low of 41˚, according to Help wanted for annual bird count Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge is looking for birders of all skill levels for this year’s Christmas Bird Count. The Christmas Bird Count is a National Audubon Society tradition in its 120th year and has occurred annually in Ajo since 1998. They say this event is not only a lot of fun but also very important as it serves to further research and conser- vation efforts for bird species and habitat throughout the country. All those interested in participating are invited to an informational meeting at Ajo Ambulance on Friday, December 13, at 2 p.m. At the meeting, representatives will establish groups and routes based on inter- est in specific areas and birding experience. Each circle has a 15-mile diameter in which volunteers record every bird they see or hear. This year’s count days are Saturday, December 14, for the Ajo area; Sunday, December 15, for Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument; and Monday, December 16, for Lukeville. “We are especially in need of experienced birders, but would like to have everyone participate who is interested and has at least a basic knowledge of Sonoran desert birds. We will make sure there is at least one experienced birder per group,” said Daniel Soto, wildlife refuge spe- cialist at Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge. For more information, contact Stephanie Doerries at Cabeza Prieta at 520-387-4989 or via email at Contact Daniel Martin for the Organ Pipe and Lukeville circles at 520-387-6849 or via email at