Earth Notes: Homolovi Turquoise (KNAU)

The following is a short piece that I wrote for the radio program, “Earth Notes”, produced by KNAU and the Sustainable Communities Program at Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ).

Hear the story HERE

I wrote this for a couple reasons, one being that I have strong interest in turquoise and jewelry made from/with turquoise.

But in truth, I really wrote this in honor of a good friend and colleague, Dr. Saul Hedquist. Saul also had a deep interest in turquoise and focused much of his research on the geo-chemical sourcing of turquoise found at ancestral sites, including Homol’ovi. The story you hear is based directly from Saul’s research.

It was this mutual interest that brought he and I together on “The Turquoise Trail”. Saul was a big supporter of my early jewelry work and we talked often about the subject. He also worked closely with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office on numerous ethnographic and field research projects. He was a trusted colleague and friend to many of us. We miss him greatly.

Prior to his passing, he and I were working on additional research, some of which will be included in an upcoming exhibit at the Arizona State Museum in Tucson. More on that later.

This was definitely a fun challenge for me to write. The limited word count (250-270) meant I had to squeeze every drop of meaning from every word! I did receive great advice from the writers at KNAU who helped me to understand the “writing for radio” process! I’m looking forward to writing more stories about my experiences on the Colorado Plateau! So stay tuned.

“Turquoise is an iconic emblem of the U.S. Southwest, prized by Native Americans, scholars, and the public alike. Known in the Hopi language as tsorposi, turquoise and other blue-green minerals (sakwa) have been used by Hopi ancestors since “time immemorial.” As both color and material, turquoise is ubiquitous in Hopi ceremonies, a symbolic connection to life-sustaining moisture.”

Kwah-kwah Saul!

Upper left: Jet & Turquoise Frog, Chaco Canyon. Bottom left: Shell mosaic w/turquoise & spiny oyster shell inlay, Kinishba Pueblo. Upper/Bottom right: reproductions by Lyle Balenquah. Background photo: Lyle Balenquah.

Hear the Audio piece HERE

7 thoughts on “Earth Notes: Homolovi Turquoise (KNAU)

  1. Thank you Lyle. I read something you wrote or heard an interview you did a long time ago (maybe an Archaeology Cafe?) and was looking forward to hearing more from you. I am glad to be on your mailing list! Woody Livingston
    Sent from my iPhone


  2. Sarah E. Payne

    I love this, Lyle, thanks for sharing! May we share your links on Crow Canyon’s social pages?
    Love following your work, and hope we get to see you soon!
    Sarah Payne
    Chief Outreach Officer
    Crow Canyon Archaeological Center
    23390 Road K | Cortez CO 81321
    970-564-4354 (direct)
    800-422-8975, ext. 154


  3. Stephanie A

    I was just in Chac, June 2022, and heard an impromptu talk by Chaco archaeologist/anthropologist Sharon Hall. She has analyzed 50,000 pieces of turquoise housed at the American Museum of Natural History. They were in one burial, and I believe she said they were in Room 28 in Pueblo Bonito..the same room as the famous chocolate cylinder jars. She believes that most of the turquoise found in Chaco came from the Rio Grande area. She said that Marcia’s Rincon in Chaco Canyon contains a “workshop.”


    1. Hi Stephanie, that is very interesting! I never knew about the “workshop”. I am heading to Chaco in a few weeks so I hope to hear more then! Thank You for your comment! Take Care!


  4. Pingback: Earth Notes: Homolovi Turquoise (KNAU) — PAA’TUUWI – Coyote Gulch

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