As was true for most nonprofit corporations, CRITCA activities were reduced in 2020 due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Museums and research facilities were closed after March, and contact was limited to remote or virtual methods. However, we are happy to report to our supporters that we did make progress and that we have a strong plan for 2021. Here are the highlights of what we accomplished in 2020.
The Center for Research in Traditional Culture of the Americas (CRITCA) assisted California State Parks staff in the creation of an exhibit about archaeology in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park (SHP). The exhibit contains a traditional brownware cooking vessel, dietary animal bone collected from historic-period archaeological sites within the park, potsherds (pieces of Native ceramic vessels) collected from historic-period sites in the park, and a reconstructed traditional Californio-era cooking hearth. CRITCA arranged for a potter who lives in Baja California to produce a traditional brownware cooking vessel and ceramic ladle for use in this exhibit. The exhibit specifically depicts traditional historic-period Californio cooking practices. CRITCA conducted historical research and research on archaeological findings to support the exhibit and thus ensure it is historically accurate. The exhibit is in place on the first floor of the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego SHP; with the park closed due to the pandemic, the exhibit is not currently available for viewing.
Presentation at Archaeology Weekend at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park:
Dr. Susan Hector, representing CRITCA, made a presentation with Powerpoint slides at a California State Parks public event on February 29, 2020. The Archaeology Weekend event, free to the public, was held at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center. The subject of this 40-minute presentation was the results of a pilot study of 135 Native American ceramic vessels from the Carl Harkleroad ceramic vessel collection curated at the San Diego Museum of Us (formerly Museum of Man). The public event took place just prior to restrictions upon public gatherings imposed by the State of California and the County of San Diego Public Health Officer due to the pandemic.
Analysis of Plant Residue from Native American Potsherds:
Residues representing the remains of plant foods and liquids were extracted from potsherds collected during archaeological excavations at both the Casa de Bandini/Hotel Cosmopolitan and from the Eugenia Silvas/James McCoy House Site. The Casa de Bandini potsherds are on loan to CRITCA from the San Diego Archaeological Center, while CRITCA borrowed the Eugenia Silvas/James McCoy House site potsherds from the Statewide Museum Collections Facility in Sacramento. Both of the latter sites are located within Old Town San Diego SHP. An anthropology graduate student at University of California Santa Barbara is conducting the residue analysis; however, the study remains incomplete due to pandemic restrictions. The lab did extract the residues from the archaeological specimens prior to the pandemic, but a full study of those residues cannot yet be completed. Originally, CRITCA had anticipated completion of the residue study by June 2020.
Donations Made by CRITCA:
CRITCA made a donation to help purchase medical supplies for the Dine’ people, specifically for use in a hospital on the Navajo reservation. Many Dine’ Elders have been directly affected by COVID-19 or are thought to be highly vulnerable to the virus and its health effects. The current public health crisis as a consequence has left knowledge of traditional culture at-risk on the Navajo Reservation.
CRITCA has set aside $2,000.00 for a historic preservation project within Old Town San Diego SHP. The CRITCA Board would consider augmenting the above amount in 2021. CRITCA is currently evaluating potential restoration projects for funding.
Research Articles Prepared by CRITCA:
CRITCA is currently preparing an article on prehistoric Native pottery sealing and repairs based upon observations made during our study of the Carl Harkleroad ceramic vessel collection. Sealing refers to the materials and methods employed by the pottery users to seal up the mouths of storage vessels for protection of its contents. Repair refers to techniques and materials used by prehistoric people to fix breaks in the body of a vessel. The relatively large study sample size of whole vessels provided by the Carl Harkleroad collection represents an extraordinary research opportunity that is not commonly available to researchers.
CRITCA conducted research and wrote a scholarly paper on the economic plants of 19th century Californio people, with emphasis upon families who resided in present-day Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Upon completing this research, CRITCA submitted the paper to State Parks for use as background information on appropriate plants for gardens in Old Town San Diego State Historic park. The paper describes food plants that would have been grown in a typical Californio kitchen garden (1821 – 1850).
At the specific request of California State Parks staff, CRITCA conducted research on where the average Californio woman obtained her clothes. CRITCA has conducted considerable research on Californio traditional textiles and traditional tools used in fiber preparation and clothes production. The resulting article was submitted to parks staff for their use in determining appropriate (historic) period attire.
Mr. Sampson submitted a 200-page monograph on the archaeology of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park to staff in California State Parks headquarters for potential publication. He has been told the monograph is under review at this time. Mr. Sampson has also been intermittently working on other research articles that are in varying stages of completion. He is currently writing background information (location, previous archaeological studies, history of the sites, etc.) for the CRITCA research on Native ceramic artifacts and stone artifacts from the Eugenia Silvas/James McCoy House site and the Casa de Bandini/Cosmopolitan Hotel. This project includes the residue study alluded to above.
We hope that 2021 will allow us to complete the research that was not possible in 2020. Our plan is to move forward this year to support independent research and publication.