BEARS EARS FC 08.05.20.jpg

Cover photo by Jonathan T. Bailey

Exploring the Cultural and Natural Histories of a Sacred Landscape
by R. E. Burrillo




For more than 12,000 years, the wondrous landscape of southeastern Utah has defined the histories, cultures, and lives of everyone who calls it home. Archaeologist and conservationist

R. E. Burrillo takes readers on a journey of discovery through the stories and controversies that make this place so unique, from traces of its earliest inhabitants through its role in shaping the study of Southwest archaeology itself—and into the modern battle over its protection.   

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October 2020 | Nonfiction | 978-1-948814-30-0 | 19.95 

R. E. BURRILLO is an archaeologist and conservation advocate. His writing has appeared in Archaeology Southwest, Colorado Plateau Advocate, the Salt Lake Tribune, and elsewhere. He splits his time between Salt Lake City, Utah, and Flagstaff, Arizona.


2020 Foreword INDIES Winner, Editors Choice Prize Nonfiction

“Solid history and archaeology combines with an understated call to preserve Bears Ears—all of it, not just a sliver.”

"An epic story of endurance that reaches back into prehistory and casts a line into the future with the hope that all people can come to know and love this sacred land, and work together to preserve it."


“Burrillo describes the area's physical geography and cultural history as well as its meaning and value to those who have been shaped and impacted by the land. For Burrillo, this includes a heartfelt identification with the area's healing power and force of place. This splendidly crafted book will appeal to regional specialists and general readers.”


“R. E. Burrillo conjures empathy for ethnography, transforms soil strata into living stories. Fierce yet playful, admonishing and ambitious, Behind the Bears Ears is as vast and consuming as the landscape itself.”
AMY IRVINE, author of Air Mail and Desert Cabal

“R. E. Burrillo is an archaeologist who writes nothing like an archaeologist—not stuffy and technical but conversational and enquiring. Drawing from his explorations and fieldwork of the region’s plateaus and canyons, his love and hope for Bears Ears binds these pages with honest glue.”
GREG CHILD, author of Over the Edge


“An engagingly personal, well-informed, wide-ranging account of Bears Ears and its archaeology, its ongoing importance to Native peoples, and its future.”
STEPHEN H. LEKSON, author of A Study of Southwestern Archaeology    


Behind the Bears Ears conveys a deep respect for the place and the people who have lived closest to it. A fine primer for newcomers to the region and an entertaining refresher course for those already embedded in the landscape.”
SCOTT THYBONY, author of The Disappearances 

"Burrillo makes a commanding debut in a consistently fascinating distillation of the unrivaled mosaic nature of the land’s history."