Wooden Canvas


Researched and Written by Ruth Lambert PhD. A documentation of Arborglyphs created in the 1920s and 1930s by sheepherders. Hispanic-American history in the Southwest.

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Names, dates, and drawings adorn many aspen trees in the San Juan Mountains, bearing witness to Hispano sheepherders’ annual treks to and from the high country with their flocks.   Author, Ruth Lambert, describes the history and traditions behind the carvings, known as “arborglyphs,” and why they are more than just art on a living canvas.

About the Author: Ruth Lambert PhD. has been the San Juan Mountains Association’s Cultural Program Director since 2003.  During that time she has directed a cultural site stewardship program and developed and implemented several cultural projects using trained volunteers and students.

Prior to working at SJMA, Ruth worked for the federal government as a cultural program manager at the Grand Canyon Monitoring and Research Center in Flagstaff, AZ where she worked with seven Native American Tribes, archaeologists, and anthropologists to develop and implement a cultural program. She has worked with a broad range of community groups to institute historic preservation projects, cultural landscapes and the preservation of ethnic neighborhoods.

She holds a Masters degree in Anthropology and a Masters in Community and Regional Planning from the University of Colorado and the University of New Mexico,  respectively. Ruth has a Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of New Mexico.