El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro REAP Workshop

Phase 1

NPS Archeology and Ethnography Program ethnographers Audrey Brown and Mark Schoepfle conducted a workshop in Rapid Ethnographic Assessment Procedures (REAP) at Chamizal NM, April 5 – 8, 2004. Its purpose was to train those in attendance for methods used in tourism impact assessment and plan a REAP research project. Rapid Ethnographic Assessment Procedures (REAP) comprise a package of ethnographic research methods that features

Participants included officials from

A full list of participants is in Appendix 1.

The workshop included instruction in

Workshop participants used this background as the first phase in developing research plans and proposals to conduct tourism impact assessment in selected communities along both the 400 miles of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro in the United States, and the 1,200 miles of Chihuahua, Mexico's historical trail.

History of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro

El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro is best seen through history as a braid of trails representing the distinct historic experiences of the different peoples involved with the trail, including…

In addition to the historical importance of this Trail to each of these groups, it is also important to the ways of life for today's descendants. Indeed, they can be seen as having a stake in how the trail's story is told.


Participants proposed the following kinds of stakeholders to whom the development of heritage tourism is important. An incomplete list may include:


Regardless of ethnicity, the development of heritage tourism along the trail is important to these different groups in order to recognize the effects of tourism, both beneficial and adverse, and the means of mitigating the adverse ones.

The general effects of tourism are best observed and understood from the standpoints both of visitors from outside the communities affected, and those from the communities themselves. The effects of tourism due to new visitors can be beneficial because:

Adverse effects of tourism spring from the same causes as the beneficial effects

Thus, for tourism to be beneficial, stakeholders from the local communities must be involved to guarantee that:

NPS and other Federal government officials have a stake in addressing these issues because:

Thus, NPS officials have expressed an interest in extending and systematizing this consultation through research that will gain further understanding from the view of the stakeholders to address the tourism issues outlined above, and to establish long-term relationships with these stakeholders as the Trail continues to develop.

Ethnographic Rapid Assessment Procedures (REAP)

REAP is a package of ethnographic methods that systematically combines interview, observation, and documentary search techniques to describe fully the way of life common to a group of people, including their knowledge, customs, beliefs, social habits, technology, arts, values, and institutions.

It also:

Its methods include, but are not limited to:

The following approaches combine the two kinds of interviewing with observation and documentation. They can serve either as grand tours or as follow-ups to gather still more information:

Rapid Ethnographic Assessment Procedures (REAP) will contribute significantly to gathering the stakeholder viewpoints and to establishing long-term relationships


The participants outlined seven strategies for using REAP to conduct the tourism impact assessment study along El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro NHT, and along the trail system in Chihuahua, Mexico. The first, from the NHT General Management Plan, is to identify sites that are important historically and culturally, and for which further study is necessary. Criteria for selection are based on

These sites are listed in Appendix F of the GMP as High-Potential Route Segments i.e.

…those segments of a trail which would afford high quality recreation experience in a portion of the route having greater than average scenic values or affording an opportunity to vicariously share the experience of the original users of a historic route.

The second, after identifying these sites, is to propose communities associated with these sites, where REAP can be conducted. Selection criteria include community members who have

The following communities were proposed as part of this second step:

The third is to identify teams of anthropologists, students, and local community members interested in conducting rapid ethnographic assessment in these communities. So far, the universities have included New Mexico State University at Las Cruces, NM and University of Texas at El Paso, TX.

INAH teams will be conducting research in Chihuahua, and comparing their findings and approaches regularly with the teams in the United States

The fourth is to sample or select members from within these communities who are willing to provide information as part of the REAP process. Sampling involves the "documented network" approach. That is:

The sample size is generally limited either because researchers reach the end of a network or because of limited research project resources. After this sampling is done, it is possible to develop networks of decision makers and determine who are the people affected by decisions.

The fifth is to make sure that the teams have agreed on a research agenda. As implied above, the research methodology requires that the researchers structure their study around the knowledge of the people in the communities, not on a survey put together by researchers alone. As the method shows, however, structuring the interviews and observations around the knowledge of the people in the communities does not imply that the research is non-structured or in some other way free-form. The research is indeed highly systematic.

Nevertheless, this structuring around the knowledge of the community members does not mean that the research proceeds without an agenda. Thus, the fifth strategy is to identify a general agenda of research questions that need to be answered. These are based on the overview of tourism issues discussed above, and are a guide for the researcher. They do not comprise a survey questionnaire. Depending on the conditions of the interview, they can be grand tour or follow-up questions. Some of these questions may include:

The sixth is to conduct the REAP, selecting from the methods mentioned above that are appropriate to field conditions. The research will also include initial presentation of REAP results to community members. These presentations serve not only to verify findings, but also to elicit more information and structure the final report.

Finally, draft the final report.