gypsum cave

Bertha Parker Pallan (1907-1978) was a Native American archaeologist, of Abenaki and Seneca descent. Her parents were Behula Tahamont, a Native American actress, and Arthur C. Parker, the first president for the Society of American Archaeology. 

Parker discovered and participated in many archaeological sites during her career, but she is best known for her work at the site of Gypsum Cave. Although she was originally hired her as the expedition cook and secretary, she was allowed to explore the cave and was able to reach more inaccessible areas. It is here that she uncovered the first giant ground sloth remains in association with humans, a discovery that received national attention among anthropologists. After her time at Gypsum Cave, she discovered two additional sites: Corn Creek Campsite, and a pueblo site at Scorpion Hill. She worked for over 10 years as an Assistant in Archaeology and Ethnology at the Southwest Museum, where she published a number of archaeological and ethnological papers in the museum journal. In her later years, she acted as a technical advisory and consultant on TV shows and movies depicting American Indians, and hosted her own TV show on Native American history and folklore.

Bertha Parker Pallan was a ground-breaker in many aspects. She is considered the first female Native American archaeologist, and she is one of the first women  recognized for conducting her work at a high level of skill in the field without a university education. Additionally, her role as a consultant for TV and movies influenced how American Indian cultures and their histories were depicted in the media.

Lady of Orda Cave 2 by samebody Natalie Avseenko and PHOTOTEAM.PRO undertook a new art-project in Ordynskaya Cave next to Perm city, Russia. Natalie had series of freediving session inside one of the largest gypsum caves. There was dark and cold (the water temperature was around +5C, the outside temperature was -35C), there was no chance to get to the surface and took a breath, there was roof above her all the time. Natalie, holding her breath and overcoming all the challenges she faced with, acted as the spirit of the cave who was kind, with big soul, caring… There is a legend that there is a Lady of the Cave who is very beautiful and charming. The lady is taking care of all the divers entering that incredible “natural cathedral”. So, Natalie, literally speaking, had to settle down in the cave and she managed to do that.

Bertha Parker Pallan [Cody] (1907-1978) is considered one of the first female Native American archaeologists. The caption to this photograph said that Bertha Pallan was an “expedition secretary” who was demonstrating “the difference in size of early type [small] and large type atlatl darts from Gypsum Cave.” This photograph may be related to an expedition sponsored by the Southwest Museum (Los Angeles). In 1936, Bertha married Iron Eyes Cody (1904-1999). In the 1950s, they hosted a television program explaining Indian history and folklore and served as technical advisers on several films.


Virtually explore the Parks Ranch Cave in New Mexico with #mypubliclandsroadtrip!

In Carlsbad, New Mexico, the Chosa Draw Area of Critical Environmental Concern contains 2,200 acres of hydrologically-important gypsum karst. Gypsum is a soft sulfate mineral that can be used as a fertilizer and in many forms of plaster and blackboard chalk.  

The area has been determined to have one of the densest concentrations of karst features, including Parks Ranch Cave.  The cave, at 4.3 miles in length, is the second longest gypsum cave in the Western hemisphere.  

Close by to world-famous Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Parks Ranch Cave is a good spot for beginning cavers to explore. 

Explore this cave virtually through the following video by BLM New Mexico!