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Springggg into 2023 with CCLLC: Volcanoes and Red Rocks

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

Spring is upon us in Colorado. One day you'll have your typical sunny, beautiful 65° day and then to the next will bring snow showers and a high of 30°. Gives a whole other meaning to spring fever! And we’ve got it bad… We’re so ready to be out on the land doing what we love to do – documenting history and sharing it with the community. So, while we’re waiting for Colorado weather to get a grip --- hehe --- We thought this would be a perfect time to catch you up on the previous year’s projects and what to expect for 2023!

2022 was an amazing year for Community Connections! We took on some big projects and are thrilled to be able to continue engaging the community with archaeology and history.

In the Spring of 2022, we worked with South Park Site Stewards in Fairplay, Colorado, in partnership with Site Steward Foundation, Inc. of New Mexico to create a kid's course on Obsidian in South Park.

In July, we were a part of Archaeology Day hosted by South Park Site Stewards where we shared the free kid's course and spoke on archaeology within the South Park National Heritage Area.

Jasmine (right) and Jess (left) at the South Park Site Stewards Archaeology Day in Fairplay, Colorado.

Since we built this amazing volcano, we couldn't wait to share this fun course with lots of kids and families! The volcano explosions are extremely popular with kids AND adults! We used this as a simple but fun learning tool to talk about how obsidian is formed, how ancient peoples collected this material, and how they used it to create tools like projectile points. Sharing culture and history can be a part of any event - even Rail Days at the Colorado Railroad Museum!

Jess at Colorado Railroad Museum sharing how obsidian is formed and then utilized by people thousands of years ago.

But perhaps our most exciting project in 2022 was the archaeological survey and documentation of Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado.

Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado

This project came about originally in 2021 when we were asked to if we wanted to join Dr. Bonnie Clark's class from University of Denver (DU) on documenting a rock shelter in the park. Dr. Clark is one of Jasmine's former professors and mentors. They bumped into each other at a Campus Dig event. When Dr. Clark asked us to join them at Red Rocks, we said YES! without hesitation!

Jess on survey at Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre

We were shocked to learn that the rock shelter was originally recorded in 1933 but had little to no details about the site. It was since forgotten until Shannon Dennison, Director of Mountain Parks, came across it in some of her research. In seeing that DU originally recorded the site, Dennison reached out to Dr. Clark for help in relocating the site and recording it. This made a perfect project for a group of undergraduate students in archaeology! 😁 And a perfect opportunity for Community Connections to assist in documentation with students.

That day, we also learned that Red Rocks Park & Amphitheater has never been formally surveyed for cultural resources... likkeee WHAT!? The Park is protected through the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and as a National Historic Landmark (NHL) but has never been inventoried for cultural resources.

Can we say perfect timing??

Next thing we know, we're up for the job of archaeologically documenting Red Rocks Park & Amphitheatre!! This. is. seriously. a. dream!!!

Crew for the 2022 Red Rocks Field Season. From photo left to right: Gunnar Bennett, Jasmine Saxon, Amy Gillaspie and Jessica Ericson

Part of what makes us (CCLLC) stand apart from a cultural resource management (CRM) firm is that we only do archaeology to promote local heritage and to be able to create content that continually engages the public with history and heritage. Connecting people together is what matters MOST. Archaeology for archaeology's sake does nothing to help us learn about different cultures and to broaden our knowledge of past peoples and how they lived in their day-to-day lives. It's the process of taking this information and giving it back to our communities that makes our work as archaeologists valuable.

And that's exactly what we're doing with all of the archaeological work at Red Rocks Park. We're taking all the amazing artifacts and sites that we find and making educational content specifically for Denver youth at Denver Public Schools (DPS) to learn more about the history in their "backyard."

This looks like educational materials specifically for teachers to share in their classrooms that lays the foundation for understanding what archaeology is and why history matters. We will then have a teaching site at Red Rocks that students can actively participate at - finding real artifacts and learning how to identify, document, and record them. Education like this teaches our youth how to be stewards of cultural resources and by extension how to be more culturally sensitive and inclusive towards historical narratives.

Jasmine (left) and Jess (right).

We're so excited to continue this work into the 2023 season and beyond. We'll be posting updates to our blog so make sure you subscribe!

We've got even more projects to share with you, but we'll save those for our next post in 2 weeks!

See you soon!

Jasmine & Jess (J&J) 🌳

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➡️ In our next blog we'll talk about the Astor House project in Golden, Colorado.

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