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eNews at Shumla
Shumla School

April, 2011

April 6, 2011
Volume 3, No. 2
In the current economic climate, philanthropy is squeezed, but the flow of support among like-minded organizations is much in evidence in Comstock, Texas.  “Preservation through education is part of our mission statement,” declares Greg Williams, executive director of the San Antonio-based Rock Art Foundation (RAF).

Williams lifts up twin cynosures of the RAF mission: protection of ancient rock art and other regional antiquities in the Lower Pecos region, and education about those resources as an awareness pipeline to future generations.  In that spirit, for the past three years, RAF board members have voted unanimously to contribute scholarships enabling college students to participate in three- and four-week field schools at the SHUMLA Center for Archeological Research and Education campus, 15 miles northwest of Comstock.

In 2009 and 2010, RAF funded two $1,750 scholarships each year.  This year, RAF board members voted unanimously to double that.  RAF Past President Ken Law, explains, “It’s really recognition on our part of the mission of SHUMLA, their research, and their education of lots of young people.  That can’t do anything but help us with conservation efforts.  Our role is largely taking folks on tours, but Carolyn has done the research that’s acquired world attention.  Carolyn and Phil [Dering, archeobotanist and Boyd’s husband] dedicated their careers to making this work.  That’s what we will continue to do, too.”

Coupled with three new scholarships from the Dee Ann Story Educational Fund honoring a distinguished Texas archeologist, SHUMLA now awards seven scholarships among successfully competing applicants.  The course demands much field work under sometimes strenuous heat and weather conditions, and even more laboratory and conference room study and analysis. 

The goal of the field school, sponsored through Texas State University, is to teach students the rigors and methods of detailed information collection about ancient rock art in and around the confluence of the Rio Grande, Pecos and Devils rivers.  More than 100 variables of information are documented for every part of limestone rock art panels, yielding critical data for scientific recording, comparison and analysis.

Baylor University senior Brandon Richardson, 21, received an RAF scholarship to the 2010 Field Methods in Rock Art course and waxes euphoric about both his luck and the experience.  “I had no idea that we even had rock art in the state of Texas.  I never had a single course that touched on that,” Richardson says.  His major field of study is forensic anthropology, but participation may have changed not only his awareness of ancient rock art, but his career goals.

Richardson is “on the fence” about whether to aim for a career in crime labs or attend graduate school to broaden his scope with a master’s degree in archeology or cultural anthropology.  “My dad worked as a homicide detective in Denver – really Lakewood, Colorado – for 27 years, and he’d share his cases with us when he got home.”  But the SHUMLA field school opened his eyes to new possibilities.  “I never really considered that art had any purpose besides being pretty.  But Dr. Boyd really filled us in that the rock art wasn’t just a painting that they hung up in their house.  She explained just how important it was in their daily lives,” Richardson recalls.

That typifies the style of reactions RAF scholarship benefactors are looking for.  RAF President Pat McCaffrey says there’s corresponding enthusiasm on his board of directors.  “Everybody has responded favorably to our votes to do this,” McCaffrey says.  “It’s a linchpin in our mission statement –  to educate people about rock art, and a great way to do that is to contribute to increased awareness of rock art at every level of education, from kindergarten through graduate school.”  Recognizing that funds fluctuate from the sources that drive them, McCaffrey is nevertheless optimistic about the future of RAF scholarship programs:  “In those years when our fortunes are good, we want to share them.”

Few know the importance of funds better than college students who don’t enjoy a “full ride” scholarship, or whose parents are not able to pay the bills.  Richardson recalls, “When I was looking into field schools, I was as strapped for money as I have ever been.  Then I discovered SHUMLA and found that, with the scholarship, I could afford it because the $1,750 [RAF] scholarship would cover course costs, and then all I had to pay was the Texas State tuition for three hours, about $1,200.”

SHUMLA Field School students hike to a rock art recording session during the 2010 course.  All are cautioned about proper footwear, water supply, headgear and sunscreen before setting out for their weeks of field studies. 
Photo by Angel Johnson

Richardson has persistent memories of course highlights.  “Our field school was three weeks, but I liked the outdoors part of it best.  I’m kind of an outdoors person, and my twin brother  Brent, and our best friend  Brad Peden, go camping and hiking together a lot,” he says.  Richardson was energized in particular about the course’s exposure to “primitive technologies,” i.e., friction fire-starting, earth-oven baking and arrow and dart point knapping.  “Getting to see all that stuff in person really brought those ancient people to life.”

 “There was one night – almost to the end of field school – when Dr. Boyd told us she had discovered something about the White Shaman rock art, a new piece of information,” Richardson says.  Before that last field trip, Boyd declined in order to work on references pertaining to the White Shaman project, discovering Aztec myths and characters linked to White Shaman interpretations. 

Such is the stuff of field school highlights that still inspire Richardson.  “Our day with Carolyn at the White Shaman rock art site was probably my favorite day of all, but all the people at SHUMLA were amazing, from the minute we got there until the day we left.  I’d recommend the field school to anybody.”  More information about SHUMLA and the field schools may be seen at

Rock Art Foundation generosity is not limited to SHUMLA, ramped up by recent scholarship gifts to the Comstock Independent School District, across the street from the SHUMLA offices.  McCaffrey explains, “We also voted to give a small scholarship to Comstock High School for use in their scholarship program for worthy students.” 

Board approval was again quick and unanimous to award the school a $1,000 scholarship. RAF’s past president, Ken Law adds, “We had five or six directors [on the RAF board] that created another $1,000 scholarship out of their personal funds.  One guy said, ‘I’ll tell you what, I’ll put up $250, if ya’ll will match it,’ and in nothing flat we had it done.  Law believes Comstock school officials will tailor one of the scholarships to go to an outstanding student who represents the first in the family to attend college.

Law, McCaffrey and Williams affirm they’d each like to visit SHUMLA and the Comstock School to observe and visit with students and instructors making good use of RAF scholarship efforts.  McCaffrey:  “If I’m given an invitation, and assuming I’m available, I’d love to go out and observe the course.”  Williams agrees: “I think we need to do that.  I know that with the scholarships to the Comstock school we’re going to do that, but I’d like to be part of the Field School, too.  I’d like to see what’s going on.”

Williams’ affinity for the SHUMLA educational objectives mirrors what most of his board members aver, but – for him – it’s central.  Of the school and its staff and leadership, Williams explains, “They happen to also be one of our good friends, too.  So we will continue to walk down these same paths – which is also very important to me personally.”

Story by Bill Sontag

SHUMLA Executive Director Carolyn Boyd and Huichol ethnographer Stacy Schaefer discuss images in White Shaman Shelter.

One of the leading contemporary ethnographers of the Huichol Indians in west-central Mexico came to SHUMLA in March.  Dr. Stacy Schaefer of the Department of Anthropology, California State University, Chico, spent a day touring SHUMLA offices and campus facilities as well as rock art sites. 
Accompanied by her husband, Jim, and SHUMLA volunteer Gary Perez of San Antonio, Stacy visited the White Shaman Shelter (VV124) and Painted Shelter (VV78) for the first time.  SHUMLA Executive Director Dr. Carolyn Boyd and Board of Directors President Elton Prewitt gave her background information and a summary of current research efforts as they toured the rock art sites.

Stacy was pleased to receive a personal tour of these sites, and the dialogue regarding Carolyn's research was quite lively.  Similarities in the iconography of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands rock art and the yarn art of the Huichol were discussed, as were similarities to other groups extending from central Mexico into the American Southwest.  Relationships of iconography and mythology sparked delightful commentary about belief systems, languages and ethnic identities. 

Carolyn and Elton invited Stacy to visit SHUMLA any time she has the opportunity, and they look forward to continuing the very positive and productive discussions with her.

Story and photo by Elton Prewitt


One of SHUMLA's most diligent supporters is the Rock Art Foundation.  Last month the organization launched a first-ever project to give sustainability to an important historic resource on the Meyers Springs ranch near Dryden.  RAF Executive Director Greg Williams and author Bill Sontag followed the workers around for a day in mid-February. 

See Bill's story about both the significance of the site and efforts underway to protect a key feature on the front page of the SHUMLA website at

Archeologist David Keller explains how on-site mud was evaluated and chosen as a key ingredient in mortar intended to stabilize a 195h century stone house at Camp Meyers. 
Photo by Bill Sontag

Jeanette Pauer

Jeanette Pauer of Del Rio joined the SHUMLA staff in early March.  She serves as Assistant Deputy Executive Director and primarily works within the Education Division of SHUMLA to enhance development and marketing of education programs.  Having served as a volunteer with SHUMLA the past two years gives Jeanette an in-depth knowledge of the kinds of programs offered and an established working relationship with our staff.
Jeanette's background is in art and teaching.  She earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Ohio State University after studying at the University of New Hampshire and at Texas Tech University.  As a military wife, she traveled extensively in the U.S. and abroad where she gained considerable experience both in teaching and in volunteer work with schools and within the military community.

Her husband, Brett, is an Air Force officer at Laughlin AFB in Del Rio.  Their children attend Comstock ISD where Jeanette serves as a substitute teacher and as president of the booster club.  SHUMLA is pleased to welcome Jeanette to our staff, and we look forward to working with such a talented vivacious lady!

Story and photo by Elton Prewitt

SHUMLA staff enjoyed wonderful experiences while hosting two teachers and students from Kaunakakai, Hawaii. Aka’ula School is a private middle school currently serving 63 students in grades 5-8.

According to teachers and students, their visit to SHUMLA exceeded their expectations as they participated in SHUMLA activities such as Friction Fire, Atlatl and Rock Art site visits, along with kayaking on the Pecos river. Aka’ula School practices the teaching model of Investigating and Evaluating Environmental Issues and Actions and found SHUMLA School very similar in its teaching.  Aka’ula teachers and students are excited about the possibilities of serving as partners with SHUMLA in implementing this method with other schools.

The students truly enjoyed their visit to the Lower Pecos area and stated that SHUMLA School was "way better" than some of the other locations that they had visited.   They also appreciated the hiking and activities associated with the learning stations. One student wrote that the thing about SHUMLA that they enjoyed most was “all of it” because “it was really fun, interesting and had lots of information,” and that “everything was fun except the fact that we had to leave.” 

One student summed up the experience by commenting "the [SHUMLA] teachers helped me learn things about the place and myself". 
Head of School, Vicki Newberry commented about the trip back home, stating “Somewhere along the drive back the boys asked if they could teach a class on the skills they learned at Shumla for a Friday elective!  We told them they would have to work together to come up with lessons, a list of supplies and budget, and explain how they intended to teach.  The next hour was filled with the most remarkable discussion as they worked through some details.  Dara and I were so impressed.  Such passion and thoughtfulness from two boys who have never demonstrated any inclination to lead or inspire others.”

"Wild Bill" Nathan Leer and "Pecos" Makana Kaahanui relax on the Devil's River after hiking to Mystic Shelter
Story and photo by Val Varner

Val Varner, SHUMLA Education Director, stated, “We are very grateful that our new friends came to experience SHUMLA, and we are very excited and enthusiastic about the opportunity to partner with such professionals.”

Three new members elected to the SHUMLA Research Advisory Board in February include an ethnoarcheologist, a linguist and a technology specialist.  Dr. Nancy Kenmotsu, currently with Geo-Marine, Inc., brings decades of experience in Texas archeology to the Board.  Along with Dr, Maria Wade, Nancy researched and wrote a monograph describing Native American groups of the Lower Pecos Canyonlands that are chronicled in Spanish documents from the 17th and 18th centuries.

Dr. Francisco Marcos-Marin

Dr. Francisco Marcos-Marin is professor of Spanish Linguistics at The University of Texas at San Antonio.  An interest in the New World history of the Spanish language led this winner of the Humboldt Award to SHUMLA where he has become fascinated with the historic-age pictographs of the region.

Charles D. Gage

Mr. Charles D. Gage of Pflugerville recently retired from the Applied Research Laboratories at The University of Texas at Austin.  He brings several areas of expertise to SHUMLA, including communications and sophisticated technology, geology and backcountry emergency medical training.

These outstanding folks join current Research Advisory Board members Dr. Steve Black, Kim Cox (Vice-Chair), Dr. Phil Dering, Charles Koenig (Secretary) and Elton Prewitt (Chair).  SHUMLA Executive Director Dr. Carolyn Boyd is an ex officio member.

Story and Photos by Elton Prewitt

The SHUMLA campus is in need of new appliances for the kitchen.  Each year, hundreds of students use the SHUMLA campus.  Because of the high volume of student use, SHUMLA staff needs to be able to serve hot meals to as many as 80 students at a time.  To accomplish this the SHUMLA campus kitchen requires restaurant-grade equipment.  The two most pressing needs are an industrial-grade stove and a high-volume refrigeration unit.  While these items are not what people consider first when they think of SHUMLA’s exciting academic programming, they are absolutely essential to running an efficient field school or discovery learning program.  Your support will ensure that students and staff can spend their time focusing on what really matters: the holistic and engaging discovery learning that makes SHUMLA so special.  Contact Jeanette Pauer at 432-292-4848 or

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 Friends Coordinator at


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