The Blackwater Draw Museum seeks to foster preservation and education of the heritage of New Mexico, the Southern High Plains, and the greater Southwest through exhibitions, educational programs, collections, and research, while enriching and supporting the educational goals and mission of ENMU.
We're more than just a "site"...
The National Historic Landmark
We're Blackwater Draw.
13,000 years ago, ice sheets spread across much of Canada, dipping down into what is now the Midwestern United States to reach the Ohio River, and covering large swathes of New England. These ice sheets had an effect on the climate that was far-reaching, cooling the atmosphere and increasing humidity all the way to the Southern Plains and to Blackwater Draw, where a spring-fed lake supported a wide variety of flora and fauna.
Mammoth, ancient bison, giant ground sloth, saber-tooth cat, dire wolf, camel and more were all present at Blackwater Draw. These animals were not alone-discoveries made in 1929 by Ridgley Whiteman, a Clovis native, demonstrated that humans existed alongside these extinct animals at the end of the Pleistocene epoch. The discovery of Clovis pushed back archaeologists' understanding of the cultural chronology of North America by hundreds of years.
The research potential of Blackwater Draw Locality 1 is enormous: more than 80 years after its discovery the site is still contributing to our knowledge of early Americans today. The Carnegie Institute, Smithsonian Institution, Academy of Natural Sciences, National Science Foundation, United States National Museum, National Geographic Society and more than a dozen major universities either have funded or participated in research at Blackwater Draw Locality 1.
The site was incorporated into the National Register of Historic Places in 1961, and in 1982 was declared a National Historic Landmark.
In 1969, the Blackwater Draw Museum was built to house the artifacts collected from the site, as well as to display materials from other collections owned by Eastern New Mexico University. The museum remained in this location until 2016, when plans put in place by then-director George Crawford to move the museum to the campus of Eastern New Mexico University were realized.
In May of 2017, the new museum location opened in Lea Hall, marking the beginning of a new chapter for Blackwater Draw. In our new location we are at the heart of campus and the heart of Portales, making us a much more accessible resource for local schools and families. We are looking forward to another 40 years and more of community engagement and discovery.