Students learn about Ancient Arizona

Fourth-grade pupils in Michelle Tabar's class at Manzanita Elementary School got a better understanding Tuesday of how ancient Indian tribes lived in America.

The class had recently completed a three-week study of Arizona history.

That and a science tie-in with archaeology brought Jerica Richardson, a field archaeologist with the Kingman office of the Bureau of Land Management, to visit as a guest speaker.

Richardson began by asking if someone could define archaeology.

One girl said it deals with artifacts that have been around for centuries.

That was close, but archaeology is the study of human culture through analyzing materials, Richardson said.

Richardson then asked what is culture?

It's the way people live, another girl answered.

Again that was partially right.

Richardson said culture concerns members of a group, how they live and the things they believe and do.

"Archaeologists study different cultures without making judgments about them," Richardson said.

"You can learn a good deal from such studies."

Richardson opened two sample cases for pupils to view and the children lined up to do so.

One case contained artifacts for bows and arrows, floor mats and items used in making assorted soups and juices.

The other case held ancient tools such as arrowheads and pottery.

All of the items were found in the Four Corners region of Colorado, Richardson said.

Richardson also showed a primitive wooden spear used in hunting and an atlatle, which is used for better leverage in holding the spear.

Tribes across the United States used the weapon in hunting creatures such as the mammoth, she said.

After answering questions on the items in the two cases, the class went outside for a demonstration of how to throw the spear and grinding of wheat using rocks called "mono" and "matate."

Children took turns at both activities.

"This is getting the children a better appreciation of native American history and their way of life," Tabar said as the demonstration and Richardson's presentation came to a close.

"Just from these two things the kids say they can't believe people had to do these things to eat.

They've already learned about it and now they've gotten to apply it."