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SHUMLA eNewsletter
Shumla School

October, 2010

October 6, 2010
Volume 2, No. 10

SHUMLA is an internationally recognized nonprofit education and archeological research center located in the community of Comstock on the Southwest Texas border west of Del Rio.  Founded in 1998, SHUMLA is impacting the world of experiential learning, heritage education, and archeological research far beyond its size and borders. 

"Our organization is poised to grow its vision to a whole new level," said Dr. Carolyn Boyd, SHUMLA's Executive Director.  "We seek a Deputy Executive Director ready to grow, professionally and personally, with us."

The Deputy Director of SHUMLA will oversee education operations:  motivating and supervising staff and volunteers; evaluating curriculum; promoting new programs; and writing grant proposals to support the vision.
In addition the Deputy will work closely with the Executive Director in matters of nonprofit management, governance and reporting.  The Deputy also will assist as required in research operations and, with the Executive Director, represent SHUMLA at fund-raising events and venues. 

Contact Elton Prewitt at with a letter of interest to receive a copy of the job specifications.  Information about SHUMLA and its activities and programs can be found at

The SHUMLA campus west of Del Rio, Texas
Painting by Isaac Martinez
Forty miles northwest of Del Rio, and barely off the beaten path of U.S. Highway 90, Seminole Canyon State Park and Historic Site sprawls across 2,172 acres of canyonlands and desert vistas.  It is one of the few places in Texas where visitors can join regularly scheduled guided tours of rock art sites that are over 4,000 years old.

The 30-year-old park is not one of the LoneStarState’s “best kept secrets.”  Texas Parks & Wildlife Department (TPWD) officials never hide their pride in any of the state’s 94 parks, natural areas and historic sites. Still, many such as SeminoleCanyon are poorly known, and even less understood by Texans and tourists for whom they were set aside.

Park Superintendent Randy Rosales is convinced that people are simply not aware of SeminoleCanyon’s position in contemporary recreation choices, as well as preservation of land, water, wildlife, history and pre-history.  “And, like our partners at SHUMLA and Amistad National Recreation Area, I don’t think people realize the surprising financial impact our visitors and operations have on the economy of local communities like Del Rio,” says Rosales.

Colorado family returns from a visit to Seminole Canyon's famed Fate Bell Shelter.  The relatively easy hike provides park visitors  a glimpse of rock art traditions of Archaic people 4,000 years ago.

According to TPWD data,  through-travelers from outside ValVerdeCounty who paused to enjoy Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site, boosted sales within the county in 2004 by $1,877,311 and countywide personal income totals were enhanced by $1,003,817.  These impressive numbers are what agency officials call “new money,” that is money brought into ValVerdeCountyClearly, adding the expenditures of locals would swell these already impressive results.

But not by much.  In the demographics of SeminoleCanyon, visitors originating from locales outside of ValVerdeCounty constituted more than 85 percent of total visitation – 46,753 of 54,290 visitor days – in 2005.  Rosales would like to see that gap narrowed a bit, particularly if a shift means that more Del Rioans and other west Texans are awakened to the abundant cultural, natural and economic resources, “just up the road a piece” in Texas proportions. 
Maria Treviño may be one of the first faces visitors see when they visit SeminoleCanyon today.  Her pride in the park is effusive.  “First of all we have some of the oldest pictographs in North America, more than 4,000 years old,” Treviño says.  “And I think we have the most beautiful scenery and wildlife in this part of Texas, too.”  Mindful of soaring trends in eco-tourism, Treviño touts the park’s trails to overlooks high above the Rio Grande canyons, as well as abundant sightings of birds, butterflies, and – this year – dragon flies. 

Superintendent Rosales points out new shade shelters in the park’s campgrounds and under construction in the picnic area as evidence of continuing improvements.  He’s proud of developments to better accommodate park visitors.   Work is underway to enhance and expand two of the park’s most popular features:  media to amplify the canyon’s colorful history, and hiking trails for both the adventurous and the cautious.

The Canyon Rim Trail, four miles in length, but still in the planning phase, will provide visitors a choice of three loops, each different from the other in length and difficulty.  The trail will take walkers along the rim of the scenic limestone chasm, putting visitors onto viewpoints and specific wildlife habitat that differ from the existing Rio Grande Hike & Bike Trail.

That very popular trail is six miles round trip over easy terrain to a spectacular overlook above the Rio Grande at it’s confluence with Seminole Canyon and a view to Panther Cave and its famed panel of rock art.

 Google Earth helps show the route of the new Seminole Canyon Rim Trail (seen in blue)
Graphic by Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Seminole Canyon State Park & Historic Site staff members participate in a fine partnership with staffs of Amistad National Recreation Area, local schools, the Gale Galloway White Shaman Preserve and The Rock Art Foundation, and SHUMLA International Research and EducationCenter.  The informative Rock Art Foundation and SHUMLA volunteers guide SeminoleCanyon visitors to rock art sites in the canyon, appreciably amplifying the number and diversity of guided services available to park visitors.

SeminoleCanyon staff members, including Rosales, participate in KEY (Knowledge Enriching Youth) programs at SHUMLA involving all fourth-graders in the San Felipe Del Rio Consolidated Independent School District in hands-on, experiential learning.  On the SHUMLA campus, 20 miles north of Comstock, students spend a day at several activity stations, learning about and trying out replicas of ancient tools, making fire, painting rock art, lobbing atlatl spears at hay-filled targets, and more.  "It's a partnership we're proud of," said Rosales.

Seminole Canyon State Park superintendent Randy Rosales teaches students about desert lifeways at SHUMLA's  recent KEY 4 program

The program also embraces fifth-graders, participating with their teachers and National Park Service ranger/educators aboard a houseboat on LakeAmistad.  The 50-foot craft was donated to the cause by the non-profit Big Bend Natural History Association, rounding out the partnership spirit of kids’ education about ancient lifeways, geology, flora and fauna of southwest Texas. 

But for the general public simply seeking relaxation and inspiration in the beauty of southwestern Texas deserts, Rosales advises, “We have a real variety of activities for people of all different skill and physical activity levels, including guided morning hikes, day hikes, and we’re even starting overnight hikes.  We think those are going to be very popular.”

The park's famed rockshelter, Panther Cave, is interpreted in the Seminole Canyon Park Visitor Center.  The rockshelter itself is accessed only by boat on Lake Amistad and is one of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands rock art sites being recorded by SHUMLA

Treviño adds, “And also you can just come out here and have a picnic – or camp.  It’s a great place for families, and even Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts who are just starting out.” With a satisfied chuckle, Rosales adds, “Even with our planned expansions of services, we already have offerings that most people don’t expect in a park, like hot showers and wireless internet in the campground

For more information about tours and activities at Seminole Canyon State Park &  Historic Site check out the website at   
For information about Seminole Canyon's partners in eco tourism west of Del Rio see

Story and photos by Bill Sontag

St. Catherine's Montessori School,  Houston, Texas, is returning for its third visit to SHUMLA this month with 23 students and their teachers.  

From October 24 - 30th,  students will take part in  SHUMLA's education program,  Lifeways of the People of the Lower Pecos.  An introduction to "Lifeways" will provide information from archeologists' findings relating to the culture of the ancient nomadic hunter-gatherers of the area and the impact the environment had on their survival.  The students will be submerged into a unique and vigorous experience as they live life as  hunter-gatherers 4,000 years ago in the Canyonlands of the Lower Pecos. 

They will learn about ancient technologies, visit rock art sites and practice known skills ancient people of the area used to survive.  Students will construct a primitive earth oven, use primitive tools and construct shelters.  They will also learn to make paint from locally available plant, mineral and animal resources and will learn how this paint was used to create the world renowned rock art panels along the Lower Pecos.

"Through this experience we hope to instill a greater appreciation for  culture, archeology, environmental stewardship, research, scientific methodology and cultural preservation," said Val Varner, Education Director at SHUMLA.

"From our perspective, this program is a great complement to our study of the evolution of civilizations from hunter/gatherers through to neolithic villages,"  said Carrie Toffoletto, lead teacher at St. Catherine's.    "Our students have been inspired to continue their studies of rock art, anthropology and early music and tools from previous visits to SHUMLA.  We can't wait to see who will be inspired this year and to what studies."

St. Catherine's students participate in a hike through the Pecos River Canyonlands, learning how to forage for food and  medicinal plants. 

For more information on SHUMLA's education programs or to receive details on bringing your group to SHUMLA contact Education Director Valerie Varner at

SHUMLA volunteer field crew and lab technicians contributed more than 142 total hours in one week this summer surveying a site on the Devils River as part of the Lower Pecos Rock Art Recording and Preservation Project. 

"Delicato Shelter is an intricate and complex rock art site," said Angel Johnson, SHUMLA Research Assistant.  "It is one of the more than 250 rock art panels and sites in the Lower Pecos Canyonlands  threatened by vandalism  and environmental issues.  We are systematically recording these threatened sites for future generations and we depend heavily on our volunteers to accomplish our goals." 

"Volunteers served in many different capacities on this project including photography and accurately completing field recording forms.  Their assistance in recording this unique site was invaluable."

Volunteer Dean Liu surveying the rock art at Delicato Shelter.

Volunteers for the project at Delicato Shelter included Nathan Martinez, Dean Liu, Willie Canseco, Hondo Aguilar, Andrea Kling and Jeanette Pauer.
Johnson said that in addition to rock art research, there are many other volunteer opportunities at SHUMLA.  "Willie Canseco, a Del Rio high school student and SHUMLA intern,  worked all summer cataloguing Dr. Carolyn Boyd's  research articles into a searchable file, spending over 80 hours on the project and processing over 750 entries. 

Jeannette Pauer volunteers at SHUMLA's KEY 4 program, teaching students how to make paint using locally available minerals, plants and animal resources.

Jeanette Pauer is an instructor for KEY 4 programs, teaching fourth-graders how to make paint the way the ancient people did 4,000 years ago.  She has also devoted many hours to SHUMLA's research programs by drawing illustrations of rock art figures and helping to catalog SHUMLA's research library.    Nathan Martinez supports all SHUMLA programs as a primitive technologist who can make the past come alive for students and adults alike." 

If you would like to volunteer at SHUMLA call 432-292-4848 or email


Since its founding in 1998, SHUMLA has become known internationally as a premier institution for rock art research and education.  We need your help to continue these efforts to bring state, national and international recognition to the rock art of the Lower Pecos region of Texas and to educate children in this rich cultural heritage.

To keep these world-class rock art research programs going we need your help and participation.  SHUMLA’s supporters come from all over the world, from local ranchers and business owners, to kids in Texas schools, to archeologists in Australia. If you are not a  Friend of SHUMLA, we urge you to join. If you are a Friend we urge to  increase your level of support.

Friends levels include

$25    Student
$35    Individual
$60    Dual
$75    Family

Additional Donor fund levels include

$500        SHUMLA
$1,000     Blue Hills
$2,500     Devils River
$5,000     Pecos River
$10,000   Rio Grande

Donate online.  Go to and click the "donate now" button in the left column.

For more information about becoming a Friend of SHUMLA go to the SHUMLA website at
or contact our Membership Coordinator at


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