26. The Dan Canyon Burial, 42SA21339, A PIII Burial
in Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.
Dominguez, Steve, Karl J. Reinhard, Kari L. Sandness, Cherie A. Edwards, and Dennis Danielson
The Dan Canyon burial was discovered at a time when the philosophy, ethics,
and legislation concerning the study of human remains are in a state of
flux. A number of important sensitive issues germane to managers,
archeologists, and American Indians are discussed in the introduction. The
subsequent analysis provides a detailed scientific account of these remains
and a glimpse of a segment of a people's past lifeway while remaining
sensitive to the wishes of the American Indians.
The burial and associated grave goods of site 42SA21339 were exposed by
wave action in a location frequented by boaters at the Glen Canyon National
Recreation Area. The Park Superintendent made the decision that the burial
should be removed immediately to prevent further damage by visitors and
lake water. The Park Archeologist and other park personnel documented and
mapped the site. Subsequently, two Native American groups were consulted
concerning the disposition of the burial materials, the Navajo and the
Hopi. The Navajos' response allowed up to a year for analysis, while the
Hopi requested that analysis be limited to five months.
In analysis, several issues were addressed using a variety of data,
including paleopathological, chronological, technological, social, and
economic information. At the request of the Hopi, the methods used for
recovery of data emphasized non-destructive and non-intrusive procedures.
The site is near Moqui Canyon, on the Colorado River arm of Lake Powell, on
the west slope of the Red Rock Plateau, near the maximum range of both the
Kayenta and the Mesa Verde Anasazi.
Consisting only of two features, the site includes the grave of a child
with burial goods and a remnant of a small granary, with no other cultural
materials. Burial goods include a variety of perishable and nonperishable
goods, including an anomalous ceramic canteen in the style of Tusayan
Black-on-red, but decorated with a white mineral paint. Compared with
burial goods included with other Anasazi of the same age group, these goods
are commensurate with those expected for an individual of average economic
and social status. Artifacts indicate this burial is late PIII, Horsefly
Hollow Phase in the period A.D. 1210 to 1260, the final Anasazi occupation
of this area (Lipe 1970).
The human remains and associated food remains indicate that this average,
healthy child experienced periodic nutritional stress, probably due to an
inadequate and homogenous diet. The coprolites recovered from the burial
are uniquely homogeneous, the macrobotanical portion consisting only of
highly processed grass seed, probably all rice grass (Oryzopsis).Pollen extraction yielded mostly grass pollen (Poaceae). The remaining
pollen suggested that Mormon tea (Ephedra) had been ingested, possibly medicinally, and that death occurred in winter or early spring.
Developmental and other skeletal characteristics indicate this individual
was approximately 3.5 years old at death and was in good health. Regularly
spaced Harris lines indicate some form of periodic stress.
Investigations in nearby areas indicate that this was a period of
environmental degradation and that Anasazi populations may have experienced
nutritional stress or other consequential forms of physiological stress.
Studies of both prehistoric populations and living populations suggest
that a number of methods were employed to support individuals through
periods of stress, and to promote the well-being of the group. This burial
has provided much unique and important information regarding the economic
and dietary systems, and the general health of an individual.
Reburial was conducted on March 6 and 7, 1991, near Page, Arizona, by
representatives of the Hopi, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and the
Midwest Archeological Center (MWAC). Research results were presented to
the Hopi representatives on the evening of March 6, along with two copies
of the draft report for review. This meeting allowed candid discussion
regarding philosophies, research goals, laws, jurisdiction, and finances.
The remains were reburied near their point of origin on March 7.
The original field work was performed by Chris Kincaid and Marla Knickrehm
of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, under very difficult
conditions. Analysis of the cultural materials was conducted by Steve
Dominguez, MWAC, who also coordinated all the analyses. Karl Reinhard and
Kari Sandness of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln were contracted to
analyze the human remains and the pollen and macrobotanical remains.
Dennis Danielson of MWAC analyzed the phytoliths. Cherie Edwards of UNL
sorted material collected from screening and identified macrobotanical
remains. Linda Scott-Cummings of PaleoResearch Laboratories in Denver
identified the wood. Mo Ghazi of UNL identified the material of the
pendant. Bret Radcliff of UNL examined the insect remains. Rob Bozell of
the Nebraska State Historical Society identified the faunal materials.
In addition to the specialists mentioned above, we would especially like to
thank Robert Hannay and Amy Smith, who promptly reported the burial to Park
authorities. We would also like to thank the Hopi Tribe, who kindly
allowed this research, especially Leigh Jenkins, Chairman of the Division
of Cultural Affairs of the Hopi, and Dalton Taylor of Shungopovi; Ranger
Steve Luckeson for effors in recording and protecting the site; Phil Geib
of the University of Northern Arizona for his extremely helpful
observations on the artifacts; John Lancaster and John Ridenour of Glen
Canyon National Recreation Area; and Adrienne Anderson, Rocky Mountain
Regional Archeologist, for help in the financial and bureaucratic issues.