Robin Pinto is making a return visit to the Arizona Senior Academy to share her observations about parks and monuments in Arizona. The focus of her Wednesday (Aug. 31) 3:30 p.m. talk is “The Chiricahua National Monument: One Landscape Steeped in Many Arizona Histories.”
As a heritage site, Chiricahua surprises with its multiple layers of occupation and cultures. One by one Pinto peels away these interesting layers that give meaning to that landscape and reveal it as a vital segment of the whole history of Arizona and the Southwest.
Her talk will span cultures from the pre-contact Archaic, the Apache homeland, military encampment, frontier homesteading, ranching, Forest Service preserve, a landscape reshaped by extensive New Deal CCC work, ending with 80 years of National Park Service stewardship
Pinto was born and raised in the East and educated there for a career in ocean biology. When she married an astronomer you can guess what new career opportunities that opened. She set about to exploit her new Arizona locale by retooling with a master’s degree in Landscape Architecture and doctorate from the University of Arizona’s School of Natural Resources and Environment.
A gnawing concern about Chiricahua’s future that disturbs Pinto is the threat of a diminishing institutional memory of the region’s conflicts, contributions, and challenges. As a contract employee specialized in capturing legacy, Pinto has been at the ready to help develop ways to understand legacy, develop the evidence, authenticate the stories and analyze the successes and failures so as to inform future generations. She worries that if Park staff remain too few and they turn over too fast there may not be enough expertise to help recover, interpret, and pass on the history to future park employees and to the public.
Written by Brack Brown, Academy Village Volunteer