History of Totah Archaeological Project

by Tommy Bolack

Tommy Bolack has been interested in archaeology since he found his first Anasazi Black-on-white bowl in an irrigation furrow of an onion field in 1959. This interest intensified and was like his father's. In 1962, his excavation of a round chamber yielded a couple of beautiful Mesa Verde Black-on-white bowls and sparked a life-long interest in the Anasazi culture.

The first attempt to begin research and field school possibilities on the B-Square Ranch was in 1972 when the San Juan Valley Archaeological Project, associated with the excavations at Salmon Ruins, helped the Archaeological Society of New Mexico sponsor a field school at the Sterling Site. Field school sessions were held from 1972-1974. Eastern New Mexico University granted credit for the latter two sessions. The field school ended because of shortages in funding.

In the dozen years that followed, attempts were made to again establish a field school with Eastern New Mexico University and the local Archaeological Society. Tommy Bolack named the project the Totah Field School, but the attempt failed. A final attempt in the early 1990s with Salmon Ruins/Division of Conservation Archaeology also failed due to lack of interest and funding. At that point in time, Tommy Bolack identified the field school project as the Total Archaeological Project.

Frustrated but not giving up, Tommy Bolack contacted San Juan College in 1998 to revive his long-lived hope of better understanding the Anasazi culture living in the Totah area of northwestern New Mexico. His hopes are to research the substantial artifact assemblage which has been collected from the B-Square Ranch through the years. In addition, he hopes to possibly change some long held ideas of the center of the Anasazi culture and to educate by providing field schools, research, and publications on this most interesting culture. This endeavor will be different in that funding will come from both the San Juan College and Bolack Foundations.