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This profile was last updated on 8/10/15  and contains information from public web pages and contributions from the ZoomInfo community.


Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division

Employment History

  • Director, Historic Preservation Department
    Navajo Nation
  • Manager of the Historic Preservation Department
    Navajo Nation
  • Director of the Historic Preservation Office
    Navajo Nation
  • Department Director and Tribal Historic Preservation Officer
    Navajo Nation Historic Preservation Department

Board Memberships and Affiliations


  • M.A. , anthropological archaeology
    University of Missouri-Columbia
  • B.S. , geology
    Allegheny College
  • Ph.D. , applied anthropology
    University of Missouri-Columbia
40 Total References
Web References
Preservation Action, 18 June 2015 [cached]
Alan Downer, HI
Alan Downer, HI
Dr. Alan Downer, Director, ..., 24 Nov 2010 [cached]
Dr. Alan Downer, Director, Historic Preservation Department, Navajo Nation
If sacred or ceremonial objects are ..., 13 Sept 2009 [cached]
If sacred or ceremonial objects are returned to the Navajo Nation, officials there will look for a tribal member who can use them in ceremonies, said Alan Downer, manager of the Navajo Nation's historic preservation department.
"We don't want to see them go unused," Downer said.
Archaeological objects will be dealt with individually. Downer said displaying certain artifacts may not be consistent with Navajo traditions.
Still, they'd be happy to get back any items illegally taken from tribal land.
"The sense around here is that this is a good thing," Downer said.
4-29-00, 29 April 2000 [cached]
GALLUP — About 10 years ago, Alan Downer learned something that put into question everthing he had been told about Navajo past history and the mysterious world of the Anasazi.
At the time he was doing what he liked to do best, working on an archaeological site on the Navajo Reservation.
Like the other archaeologists working with him, Downer expected the Navajo site to date to the 16th maybe 15th century. The prevailing theory at the time was that was about the time Navajos migrated to the Southwest region that would become their homelands.
But when the lab tests came back, the site dated to the 1300s A.D.
"The head archaeologist eventually said it was the 16th century, but he had to explain away the site," said Downer, now the director of the Navajo Nation's Historic Preservation Office. "That's when I thought something wasn't right about this. I started talking to chanters (and other Navajos with traditional knowledge), and they said, 'Oh yeah, we were here when the Anasazi were here.'"
Hearing that from the chanters, Downer and the Navajo Nation took the information to National Park Service officials at Chaco Canyon.
Downer said he believes the Navajos arrived here in the 11th century and lived among the Anasazi, whereas archaeologists say the tribe came in the 15h century long after the groups that made up the Anasazi went their separate ways and became individual Pueblo tribes.
"These dates may be too early for our standard model," Downer said, "but there's too many (of these sites)...we can't ignore them anymore.
"I can't understand what would motivate these people (the Navajos) to consistently use wood that's 200 years old," Downer said. "Nobody I know has given a social mechanism that's driving these people to use 200-year-old wood."
Contemporary Navajos cut fresh wood to construct traditional buildings.
The strongest evidence for the Navajos' connection to the Anasazi come from families' oral traditions, Downer said.
However, the Navajo Nation asserted its connection with the Anasazi only to set the record straight, Downer said.
"In Navajo traditional theory of disease, one of the principle ways of getting illness is offending the dead or dealing inappropriately with the bodies," Downer said.
DLNR Names ..., 22 Sept 2014 [cached]
DLNR Names Downer. Alan S. Downer has been appointed as the new administrator of the State Historic Preservation Division (SHPD), a division of the Department of Land and Natural Resources. Downer served 27 years as director of the Navajo Nations Historic Preservation Department (NNHPD) in Window Rock, Ariz. Downer was hired in 1986 to establish the first tribal historic preservation agency in the United States.
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