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The University of New Mexico


Contact: Carolyn Gonzales 277-5920

Oct. 8, 2007

Chaco Collection to Open at UNM
NPS and UNM Partnership Celebrate 100 Years of Chaco

The University of New Mexico and the National Park Service celebrate the opening of the Chaco Collection at UNM’s Hibben Center on Friday, Oct. 12, from 1-4:30 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

Opening remarks from NPS and UNM officials will be followed by tours by Wendy Bustard, curator. Light refreshments will be served.

A forum on research and partnership with UNM, “The Past 100 Years of History at Chaco Canyon,” will follow the tours from 3-5 p.m. Individuals from NPS, UNM and the Navajo Nation will talk about the history of Chaco, collections, the Navajo Nation Chaco Protection Sites Program and even explore the Chaco Digital Initiative as a way to explore ways to expand Chaco knowledge. The presentations also include ideas on continuing the NPS/UNM partnership.

“The goal of this event is to commemorate the opening of the new NPS facility by inviting interested community members, acknowledging assistance of and partnership with UNM and the New Mexico delegation, and providing special tours,” Bustard said.

Among invited guests are representatives from the New Mexico congressional delegation, NPS Superintendent Barbara West and UNM President David Schmidly.

The collaboration between UNM and NPS dates back to the founding of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in 1907. Edgar Lee Hewett, founder of UNM’s anthropology department, the Museum of New Mexico and the School of American Research, was instrumental in passing the Antiquities Act of 1906, which led to the creation of Chaco Canyon National Monument the following year.

UNM had partial ownership in the monument; acquired sections from the SAR, and all state sections were deeded back to the federal government in 1949. Hewett conducted research in Chaco Canyon at Chetro Ketl in the 1920s and early 30s. The UNM/SAR Archaeology Field School built research facilities in Chaco Canyon and excavated several small sites from 1935-’47. As a result, UNM holds extensive and important collections from Chaco Canyon. The collections complement the NPS collections and provide researchers an opportunity to study the full range of Chaco material culture.

UNM and NPS signed a memorandum of understanding in 1949 when UNM deeded its parkland to the National Park Service. As a result, the NPS granted UNM “perpetual preferential rights” to conduct scientific research in Chaco Canyon. The MOU was renegotiated to establish the joint NPS-UNM Chaco Project, which was designed to determine through survey, excavation and multi-disciplinary research, the relationship between the environment and the prehistoric inhabitants of Chaco Canyon. The Chaco Project was based in the UNM Department of Anthropology and funded by the NPS from 1970-85.

For more information, contact Wendy Bustard, 346-2871 x 201.


The University of New Mexico is the state's largest university, serving more than 32,000 students. UNM is home to the state's only schools of law, medicine, pharmacy and architecture and operates New Mexico's only academic health center. UNM is noted for comprehensive undergraduate programs and research that benefits the state and the nation.