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The Sinagua: Fact or Fiction? Encore presentation by archaeologist Peter J. Pilles, Jr.
“Sinagua” is the name first coined in 1939 to refer to the pre-European people who inhabited the Flagstaff region of north-central Arizona. But what, exactly, does this mean? Does Sinagua refer to a geographic area, a specific kind of pottery, an actual grouping of people, or is it something else? These are difficult questions this presentation will attempt to explore. The Sinagua archaeological area of Arizona has been considered a cultural “frontier,” characterized as a blend of other cultures, yet unique enough to warrant its own cultural designation. However, over the years, this uniqueness dissolved as old interpretations were no longer satisfactorily explaining what archaeologists were finding. By the 1960s, new areas of study and new explanatory models were developed. However, these paradigm shifts have failed to satisfactorily answer the questions posed by past interpretations. These shifts beg the major questions: Who were the Sinagua, how do they fit into the “Big Picture” of Southwest prehistory, and what happened to the culture? In order to bring closure to these questions, archaeologists need to explain how past questions have been . . . not exactly the wrong questions, but they need to be re-fitted and examined under a different lens, focused by degrees of scale. This presentation will attempt to illustrate these different approaches, as well as to demonstrate that the concept of “Sinagua” is both fact AND fiction.

Sep 15, 2022 07:00 PM in Arizona

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