From 2004–2020 the Trans-Pecos Archaeological (TAP) Initiative provided the Center with a framework that guided its archaeological surveys, excavations, oral history acquisitions, and archival research. Over this period the Center positioned itself as the undisputed leader in Big Bend cultural scholarship. The Center's research, encompassing the earliest known Paleoindian occupations up to the period of settlement by Hispanic and Anglo pioneers, has broadened the understanding of over 11,000 years of the region’s past. The Center for Big Bend Studies is committed to maintaining its leadership position in archaeological research and scholarship on into the future.

To adapt to new developments in the archaeological disciplines, the Center expanded TAP into a new focused research initiative comprised of defined programs, timelines, and objectives. The Texas Big Bend Archaeological Initiative is made up of twenty-three cultural heritage-oriented programs. These programs enable focused research and funding opportunities in areas offering the greatest potential to increase the visibility and impact of the Center in the Trans-Pecos as well as outside the west Texas region. Each program is designed to allow staff and leading outside researchers, through collaborations and partnerships, to utilize the Big Bend area and the Center as a cutting-edge archaeological laboratory.

Archaeological Initiatives

Initiative Specific Programs Description
Paleoindians in the Big Bend First humans in the Big Bend Investigate terminal Pleistocene adaptations in the Big Bend
Adaptation to a changing climate Investigate the prevalence of late Paleoindian materials in the Big Bend
Rock Art Database construction and management Evaluate and add to the database and make the database available to researchers
Dating of stylistic similarities Expand investigations to other locations of the Big Bend
Fieldwork to locate additional rock art Expand recording to new locations and initiate preservation programs and ethics education
La Junta de los Rios New excavation Renew excavation work, beginning with Kopenberger and Loma Alta sites followed by the Millington site
Expanded education Targeted outreach campaign to educate the public on the importance of La Junta
Site preservation Long-term excavation including construction of a structure to preserve a portion of the Millington site
Site Conservation Stewards program Educational programs for landowners and managers on the importance of preserving cultural resources
Outreach/Education Focused and renewed public outreach, including educational workshops to engage new landowners and managers.
Ranch recordation Small-scale planned fieldwork on newly engaged ranches.
Big Bend Sheltered Sites Trans-Pecos Perishable Project Redraft the TPPP and seek grants focusing on baskets and perishables
Database/Weighted matrix Ongoing sheltered site data collection and recording
Preservation Landowner education program and long-term site monitoring program
Collaborative field school Programs at Bee Cave Canyon, Spirit Eye Cave, and San Esteban sites
Holocene Adaptations Adaptation to change Broadly focused research on a changing climate initiative
Maintenance of cultural systems Prolonged maintenance
Technological innovations Study of adaptation themes in the wider area outside of the Chihuahuan Desert
Genome Project aDNA including mitochondrial and nuclear DNA Expand research into different populations; Archaic and Formative Period data are needed
Stable carbon and nitrogen isotopes; Dietary isotopes; lead and strontium data; Life history Develop a dietary database and perform population base studies
History of the Borderlands Borderland relations through history Topical historical research
Contingency Research Unforeseen needed research Obtain funding for unanticipated important research opportunities
Research Director Endowment Oversight and planning Create an endowment to protect the Research Director position from loss of funding due to state budget cuts
TAP Legacy Projects Address decades of unpublished excavation work Develop funding to complete publication of past work
General Operations Equipment Obtain needed  field vehicles
Salary Staff Needs
In-house publications Staff Needs
General costs Overhead
Anthropology Department Maintain CBBS research autonomy
Undergraduate internships and research
Research Associates In-house support program for scholars