Water Fight: Archaeology, Litigation, and the Assessment of Pre-Contact Canal Irrigation Technologies in the Northern Rio Grande Region
By Michael Adler
In Chapter 7, Mike Adler, an archaeologist, considers the evidence (and lack thereof) for prehistoric canal irrigation across the northern Southwest, specifically in the northern Rio Grande region. In fact, little is known. Constraints on our knowledge of the spatial and temporal extent of canal irrigation in this region include limited contact period accounts, a dearth of archaeological investigations of purported canals, lack of chronometric dating of archaeological deposits, and land modifications by later occupants of the region. A significant portion of recent archaeological investigations into precontact water control has been driven by court cases seeking to establish water rights settlements through litigation-based research. These litigation-based research reports often are classified documents, not subject to peer review, and not in the public domain. There are legal and ethical challenges associated with archaeological investigations of precontact water management technologies that constrain our discovery efforts.