When The Land Was Young: Reflections on American Archaeology (Paperback)
A clay potsherd, a petroglyph, a flint spear point, a bone: archaeology is a dry business, sifting through dusty time to find the remains of long-gone life. But as immersed as it is in the details of the dead, archaeology belongs to the living. It is a tale of peopling that in North America extends our cultural perspective back at least twelve thousand years, a story that Sharman Apt Russell brings to vibrant, contentious life as it is enacted today, revealing past and present alike. A history of archaeology in America, written with clear-eyed wit and grace, Russell's book takes the study of our ancestors out of the museum and shows us the immediate, human implications of our forays into the past. Whether eyeing the theory that humans caused the extinction of Pleistocene mega-fauna, or the demands for the repatriation of Native American remains, or the meaning of burial mounds in Ohio, Russell keeps in clear view the idea that there are multiple ways of examining the past. She interviews an array of characters who have been instrumental in reshaping modern archaeology and speaks to those, such as Pawnee activists fighting for the return of ancestral remains or a Navajo archaeologist at odds with his people's prohibition against handling the dead, who continue to wrestle with the nature and practice of archaeology today.
Sharman Apt Russell has been awarded the 2016 John Burroughs Medal for Distinguished Nature Writing, whose recipients include Aldo Leopold, Rachel Carson, and Roger Tory Peterson. Her award-winning YA historical fantasy, "Teresa of the New World," is set in the dreamscape of the 16th century American Southwest. Her science fiction "Knocking on Heaven's Door" takes place in a Paleoterrific future in which humans once again wrestle with their dreams of Eden and recently won a New Mexico/Arizona Book Award. Her nonfiction ranges from "Diary of a Citizen Scientist" to "Standing in the Light: My Life as a Pantheist." Sharman is emeritus faculty at Western New Mexico University in Silver City, NM and affiliate faculty at Antioch University in Los Angeles. She lives with her husband in the Gila Valley of southwestern New Mexico and has two adult children.