Penn’s Center for Architectural Conservation received a $1.3 million grant from the Getty Foundation to maintain and protect the Wupatki National Monument in Arizona.
The Center – which is housed in the Stuart Weitzman School of Design – plans to use the funds to develop a training and management program for conservation of the historic Wupatki Pueblo, as well as engage with Indigenous groups in the region.
While the Wupatki landscape is known for its “exceptionally well-preserved” archaeological record and was once home to the ancestors of various Native American tribes, according to a Getty press release, it is now at risk due to climate change, something the Center hopes to address.
Wupatki contains a 900-year-old pueblo stone complex, which historically housed over 100 people and presently attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors annually. The site, however, is at risk of destruction, in part due to weather factors accelerated by global warming, as well as seismic and flooding threats.
“Identifying the vulnerabilities of sites like Wupatki is perhaps the most critical challenge currently facing all cultural and natural resource managers today,” CAC director Frank Matero said.
In addition to preserving the monument, the CAC intends to use the funds to expand opportunities for Native youth. In partnership with the Conservation Legacy’s Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps, Penn will sponsor a 12-week summer internship program, which will give students the opportunity to do fieldwork, shadow conservation workers, and receive mentorship from the Northern Arizona Tribes. Penn and its partners will also offer a 10-week summer internship for Indigenous students attending Northern Arizona University, according to the press release.
Wupatki covers a total of 35,422 acres and was established as a national park by President Calvin Coolidge in 1924. The park functions both as a natural and cultural wonder as it was historically occupied by numerous Indigenous groups including the Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, Yavapai, Havasupai and Hualapai.
The CAC is devoted to providing intellectual support for those interested in conservation work, as well as providing graduate students opportunities to work on applied conservation projects. Much of their recent work is focused on interdisciplinary projects focused on contemporary issues like sustainability as it pertains to the conservation of culturally meaningful structures, according to the website.
The collaborators of the project all expressed a desire to work with Indigenous groups who historically inhabited the region, with the hope of expanding the practice beyond Wupatki.
Director of Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps Chas Robles said that CAC is “excited” to partner with Penn and other organizations.
“Ancestral Lands Conservation Corps is excited to partner with Wupatki National Monument and Vanishing Treasures, Getty, and the University of Pennsylvania on this great project, protecting and preserving these ancestral sites for current and future generations to enjoy and honoring the ancestors who built them generations ago,” Robles said.