Ancestral Pueblos and Modern Diatribes: An Interview with Antonio Chavarria of Santa Clara Pueblo, Curator of Ethnology, Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, Santa Fe, New Mexico

Antonio Chavarria, Rubén G Mendoza

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In an effort to solicit the advice and counsel of an American Indian advocate concerned with addressing the activities of anthropologists and museums, in June of 2010 Mendoza convened an interview with Museum of Indian Arts and Culture Curator of Ethnology Antonio “Tony” Chavarria at the Laboratory of Anthropology in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Antonio expresses an American Indian perspective on how anthropologists and other social scientists should proceed when evidence for prehistoric or recent Amerindian social violence, and or unsound eco-cultural practices are encountered. First, Chavarria advises scholars to share their interpretations of the data with the affected descendant populations well in advance of publishing research findings. He contends that the protocol in question presents native people with the opportunity to offer alternative interpretations and insights into the scholarly interrogation of that evidence recovered. While he acknowledges that Amerindians are fully capable of engaging in unsound environmental practices despite popular characterizations to the contrary; he acknowledges that some instances of natural resource depletion by ancestral Pueblo groups are directly attributable to the imposition of Western strictures regarding private property. He contends that both Hispanic and American systems of land tenure ultimately disrupted longstanding traditional Pueblo patterns that called for the cyclical abandonment of exhausted farmsteads, and the interim (re)settlement of other viable lands and outliers, in a manner essentially constituting a form of shifting cultivation. Ultimately, Chavarria does not condone the obfuscation or censorship of data not in accord with traditional or popular cultural beliefs, but rather, advises anthropologists to establish and maintain open lines of communication with descendant communities.
Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationThe Ethics of Anthropology and Amerindian Research: Reporting on Environmental Degradation and Warfare
StatePublished - 2012


  • Land Tenure
  • Human Remains
  • Tribal People
  • Tribal Land
  • Spanish Form


  • History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology
  • Anthropology
  • Archaeological Anthropology

Cite this