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NMSU researchers go to Santa Fe to put moon artifacts on the books for New Mexico

A group of New Mexico State University anthropology graduate students will present their nomination to the New Mexico Cultural Properties Review Committee on Friday in Santa Fe.



Beth O'Leary's graduate seminar in Cultural Resource Management will travel to Santa Fe to present a case for Apollo 11 moon artifacts to be listed on the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties. Pictured are Matt Punke, Bob Debry, Beth O'Leary, Jaime Vela, Deneve Sam, Sahrah Bliss and Reagyn Slocum. ( Photo by Jaime Geronimo Vela).

The opportunity could secure New Mexico as one of the first states to recognize the cultural, archaeological and historical importance of the Apollo 11 artifacts left on the moon.

"Every state has a connection to the exploration of space," said Beth O'Leary, professor of anthropology. "We feel New Mexico has very strong and current relationships with space exploration from the V-2 rocket to Spaceport America."

The nomination is a course project for the students in O'Leary's Cultural Resource Management graduate seminar. She involved her students in the process as researchers by looking at the association of the artifacts on the moon's Tranquility Base to New Mexico's space history.

Each student was responsible for researching places in New Mexico linked with the Apollo program and space exploration. Such places include White Sands Missile Range, the Holloman Air Force Base test track, New Mexico Museum of Space History, Robert Goddard's house in Roswell and Spaceport America.

"In general, the experience has been fantastic," Deneve Sam, CRM graduate student, said. "Cultural resource management is very new for me so this provided a great opportunity to understand what it's all about. Also, it allowed me to work with other students and professionals, and gain a holistic viewpoint on how to nominate properties."

The CPRC reviews nominations for items to the New Mexico State Register of Cultural Properties. O'Leary is on the committee, but will recuse herself in order to be a part of the presentation with her students. Four out of the six students will speak to the committee during the meeting as well.

The meeting is open to the public. It will be at 1 p.m. Friday in the Roundhouse State Capitol Room 311 at 490 Santa Fe Trail.

For more information on the meeting, contact Beth O'Leary at (575) 644-1668 or boleary@nmsu.edu.