The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Pair promotes preserving Clovis history


October 22, 2016


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Fort Sumner has Billy the Kid. Roswell has the UFO.

Now a couple of Clovis women are on a mission to introduce Clovis Man to tourists.

Lois Lesly Barnes and Bonnie Cook have written letters and are making other efforts to teach the world about Clovis’ past, starting with local residents.

“Most people here — for whatever reason — don’t seem to know much about our intriguing history,” Bonnie Cook wrote.

Blackwater Draw, located 14 miles southwest of Clovis, has been of interest to historians since 1929 when an arrow point was found with a piece of mammoth bone.

Researchers once believed the site was evidence of man’s first appearance in North America as much as 13,000 years ago.

While that distinction is now debated after other findings, the Clovis Paleoindians remain a fascination with anthropologists and archaeologists around the world.

And as host to one of the oldest American cultures, Barnes and Cook believe the Clovis-Portales area deserves more recognition.

“With a history like that, why haven’t we used it to our advantage?” Barnes asked.

Barnes wants Clovis Man used to attract tourists to the region. She’s promoting the idea she first heard from her friend, Clovis historian Don McAlavy, who died in January.

“It was Don’s dream,” she said last week.

Barnes said she first crossed paths with McAlavy in 1950, when both were tracing genealogy.

Barnes said she was surprised to learn that McAlavy’s father-in-law, Ridge Whiteman, was credited with uncovering some of the earliest “Clovis Man” artifacts in 1929.

It was Whiteman who notified the Smithsonian Institute that Blackwater Draw was a historic treasure chest.

Barnes and Cook are asking area residents to join together and spotlight the past with a parade or maybe a gift shop complete with Clovis Man souvenirs.

While Barnes has been promoting the idea since speaking on it at McAlavy’s memorial service in July, she said the idea is not new.

Barnes points to a newspaper column McAlavy wrote decades ago that called for a sign proclaiming “Clovis, Founded 9,514 BC” or “Clovis — The first community in North America.”

Want to help?

Lois Lesly Barnes asks anyone interested in promoting Clovis’ history send an email to:

[email protected]


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