PORTALES, NM (09/07/2017) Ethan Ortega, who was raised in Portales and graduated from Eastern New Mexico University in 2013, won first prize for the Cordell-Powers competition at the 2017 Pecos Conference in August for his research at Coronado Historic Site.
The Pecos Conference is an annual conference of archaeologists held in the southwestern United States or northern Mexico. The Cordell-Powers Prize is an award for the best extemporaneous talk presented at the Pecos Conference each year by an archaeologist, 35 years of age or younger.
Ethan, who donated the $550 cash prize he received for winning the Cordell-Powers competition to the Coronado Historic Site, thinks that the Cordell-Powers Prize is "fantastic," because it "not only pushes young archaeologists to hone their speaking skills, but it also inspires unique and diverse work in the field."
The ENMU graduate, who is currently working on a master's degree in museum studies at the University of New Mexico, gave a presentation for the competition titled "False Truths, Restored Ruins, and New Artifacts: Looking Beyond the Oxymoronic Past of Coronado Historic Site through Field Work."
The presentation focused the work of 75 volunteers over seven weeks excavating dozens of test units at the Coronado Historic Site, showing that Kuaua Pueblo was larger than once thought and may have had an extensive turkey industry.
Ethan's interest in anthropology began at age 10 when his parents arranged for him to participate in a paleontological dig in Texas.
"From there on out, I knew that I would spend my life digging in the dirt," said Ethan, who was raised in Portales. "Over the next few years, my interest shifted from dinosaurs to human history. That is why I chose anthropology, but I still think dinosaurs are pretty cool."
He chose to attend ENMU because he knew it had a "fantastic anthropology program and I knew that, as a student, I would have the opportunity to work at the world renowned Blackwater Draw site."
His parents, Melody and Orlando Ortega, and sister, Andrea Ortega-Conlan, are ENMU graduates.
He currently works as a historic site ranger for the Northern Region of New Mexico Historic Sites, which is part of the Museum of New Mexico system and includes Coronado Historic site and Jemez Historic Site.
"For any position that I find myself in, I want to continue to break down the barriers between the public and archaeology to get people interested and taking an active part in decoding their history."
In addition to winning first prize in the Cordell-Powers completion, Ethan recently received the "Edgar Lee Hewett Award for Service to the Public" from the New Mexico Historical Society and the "Bice Award for Archaeological Achievement" from the Archaeological Society of New Mexico.
For more information, visit: http://www.enmu.edu/about/news-and-events/enmu-news/alumni-highlights/2310-greyhound-grad-wins-groundbreaking-archaeology-award