Crow Canyon researchers set to star at Mountainfilm Festival

Wednesday, May 23, 2018 10:03 PM
The Mountainfilm Festival will host three Crow Canyon Archaeological Center researchers for a discussion of the 2,500-year migration of Puebloan people.

Three Crow Canyon Archaeological Center researchers will step into the spotlight for a discussion on the 2,500-year migration of Puebloan people as part of this year’s Mountainfilm Festival, set for Memorial Day weekend in Telluride.

Dan Simplicio, Shanna Diederichs and Mark Varien will present “Seeking the Center Place for 2,500 Years” at 8 a.m. Sunday at the Telluride Library, according to a news release from Crow Canyon. They will explore how the migration across the Southwest weaves together a story of climate change, economic adaptation and cultural identity relevant today.

Simplicio is a cultural specialist and a member of the Zuni Pueblo. His work focuses on education, consulting with museums on exhibits and collections, and teaching the Zuni language, history, culture and cosmology. He has also conducted archaeological fieldwork throughout the Southwest and worked as a cultural resource specialist for the Zuni Historic Preservation Office, and worked with the United Nations to help draft the U.N. Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. Simplicio has a bachelor’s degree in anthropology from the University of New Mexico.

Research archaeologist Shanna Diederichs is investigating an ancient community center and great kiva from the seventh century, A.D. as part of the Basketmaker Communities Project – which seeks to understand the social organization of more than 100 ancestral Pueblo sites in Southwest Colorado. She also has worked at Mesa Verde National Park, Aztec Ruins National Monument and Woods Canyon Archaeological Consultants. She has a degree in anthropology from the University of Colorado.

Mark Varien is the executive vice president of the Research Institute at Crow Canyon, and has been conducting research in Southwest Colorado since 1979. As part of the Village Ecodynamics project, Varien works with a team of researchers to create a database of all the known ancient Pueblo archaeological sites to reconstruct the population history of the area. His work examines how population movement affects settlement patterns and seeks to integrate archaeological and indigenous knowledge. Varien holds a doctorate in archaeology from Arizona State University and is the author of the 2010 book Leaving Mesa Verde: Peril and Change in the Thirteenth-Century Southwest.

The Mountainfilm Festival is an annual documentary film festival that showcases nonfiction stories about environmental, cultural, recreation, political and social justice issues. The festival includes interactive talks, free community events, a gallery walk, outdoor programming and presentations.

The Crow Canyon presentation is free. For more information, go to