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Pueblo Farming Project presentation is March 7 in Cortez

A talk about the Pueblo Farming project will be March 7 at 7 p.m. at the First United Methodist Church. 515 N. Park St., Cortez. (Jim Mimiaga/The Journal)
Archaeology group resumes monthly meetings at First United Methodist

Hisatsinom Chapter of the Colorado Archaeological Society in Montezuma County is back to having meetings the first Tuesday every month at the Methodist Church on Park Street in Cortez.

Meetings and presentations are open to the public and free.

On March 7 at 7 p.m., the Society presents Paul Ermigiotti on “The Pueblo Farming Project: a Long-Term Collaboration between Crow Canyon Archaeological Center and the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office.”

The Pueblo Farming Project has collected data on maize growth, precipitation, soil moisture and the effects of cold air drainage since 2008. In this talk, Ermigiotti will explain the project parameters and the latest data insights, including a discussion of drought-caused crop failure.

The Hopi Tribe has assisted researchers at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center on ancient corn-growing techniques and understanding the crop’s history in the Four Corners.

The Pueblo Farming Project is attempting to recreate Puebloan styles of growing corn at five different gardens on the Crow Canyon campus, west of Cortez.

The Hopi are experts at desert farming and continue the practice today on Black Mesa in Arizona as they have done for generations. Where others have failed, the Hopi are proficient at growing corn, squash, beans, and melons.

“We see corn as our children. When we go to the field we sing a song and the corn grows, just like you do to your children,” said Hopi farmer Donald Dawahongnewa at a previous presentation at the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center.

Aug 22, 2013
Learning to farm from native drylanders

Domestication of corn signals the beginning of the more stationary Pueblo Indian culture and a move away from hunting and gathering practices more dominant during the Archaic Period. By 500 B.C. during the so-called Neolithic Revolution, corn became a main calorie source for people.

Scientists have been able to date domesticated corn from the Four Corners to 2,000 B.C.

The earliest dated flour corn variety is from A.D. 0, found in the cave outside Nucla. Ancient corn from the Fall Creek site near Durango dates to 300 B.C.

There are five basic varieties of corn: popcorn, flint (or Indian corn with colorful kernels), dent, flour and sweet corn. The oldest corn cob dates to 6,500 years ago. Domesticated corn arrived in the Southwest 4,000 years ago. It is derived from a wild grass called teosinte, which first began to be cultivated as corn 9,500 years ago.

“For the Hopi, corn is not just food, it is a metaphor for life. Their people were created from corn,” Ermigiotti said at a previous presentation.

Ermigiotti has been part of Crow Canyon since 1990. Besides directing the Pueblo Farming Project, he is an educator, involved in everything from making artifact replicas of pottery, projectile points, atlatls, and bone tools, to teaching all levels of students.