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Pueblos, Ancient & Modern -  Page 5

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Chaco Culture National Historical Park, New Mexico - Chaco was the center of life for Pueblo Indians of the Colorado Plateau from 850 A.D. to 1250 A.D. Beginning in 900 A.D. the people built large multi-storied stone structures on mesa tops and on the canyon floor. This concentration of structures is thought to have served the region as a ritual, administrative and trade center. The largest building, Pueblo Bonito, rose four stories and contained 600 rooms and 40 kivas in a D-shaped layout. Another nearby structure, Chetro Ketl, had close to 500 rooms and 16 kivas as well as an enclosed plaza. The pattern of large public buildings with oversized rooms, surrounded by conventional villages, became the standard in Chaco Canyon and spread throughout the region. In the 1200's, change came to Chaco as new construction slowed and Chaco's role as a regional center shifted to new cultural centers. Administered by the National Park Service, the park contains over 4,000 cultural sites associated with Paleo-Indian, Pueblo, Navajo and Euro-American occupation of the canyon.


Chaco Canyon Ruins

Chaco Canyon, courtesy National Park Service




The recommended access route to the park is from the north, via US 550 and County Rd. 7900, and CR 7950. The route includes five miles of paved road and 16 miles of rough dirt road. From the south, two dirt roads access Chaco from Hwy. 9, which runs between Crownpoint, Pueblo Pintado and Cuba. Both routes can vary from very rough to impassable. They are not recommended for RVs. Chaco Canyon is also a designated World Heritage Site. The Visitors Center is open from daily, year round. Sites and trails are open from sunrise to sunset. Contact information: Chaco Culture National Historical Park, PO Box 220, Nageezi, New Mexico 87037-0220, 505-786-7014.


Chimney Rock Archeological Site, Colorado - Located in the San Juan National Forest in southwest Colorado, the site is between Durango and Pagosa Springs. It is managed by the Pagosa Ranger District, USDA Forest Service. Designated an Archaeological Area and National Historic Site in 1970, Chimney Rock lies on 4,100 acres of San Juan National Forest land surrounded by the Southern Ute Indian Reservation. The site was home to the ancestors of the modern Pueblo Indians 1,000 years ago and is of great spiritual significance to these tribes. Their ancestors built over 200 homes and ceremonial buildings high above the valley floor, probably to be near the sacred twin rock pinnacles. Of the hundreds of individual sites dotting the landscape, researchers have thus far found 91 structures that may have been permanent, plus 27 work camps near farming areas, adding up to more than 200 individual rooms. The Chimney Rock Interpretive Association, conducts daily guided walking tours and operates the Visitor Center during in-season, May 15 to September 30. More information Chimney Rock Interpretive Program, P.O. Box 1662, Pagosa Springs, Colorado  81147, 970-883-5359.


Crow Canyon Archeological Center, Colorado - The center is located in the Four Corners area of the American Southwest -- the ancestral homeland of the Pueblo people, whose nations today are located in Arizona and New Mexico. American Indianlands in or near the area today include those of the Mountain Ute, Southern Ute, Paiute, Navajo, and Jicarilla Apache, and the reservations of numerous other tribes are not too far distant. The name for this area in Keres, including Mesa Verde and the Great Sage Plain, is katach-ta kaact, meaning "wide area of dwellings." People have lived in the Mesa Verde region of the American Southwest for thousands of years. For the vast majority of that time, the inhabitants were American Indians -- hunters, foragers, and farmers who thrived in the canyon-and-mesa country of what today encompasses portions of southwestern Colorado, southeastern Utah, and northwestern New Mexico. Only in the last approximately 250 years have other people -- mostly Europeans and Americans of European descent --moved into the area. The indigenous peoples of the region are interested in the past because they consider their relationships to their ancestors to be sacred. More information: Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, 23390 Road K, Cortez, Colorado  81321-9408, 970-565-8975 or 800-422-8975.


El Morro National Monument, New Mexico - Also known as "Inscription Rock," this massive rock formation rises more than 200 feet above the plains. On top of the formation are the remains of two Anasazipueblos, the most complete of which is A'ts'ina, built in 1275 A.D. With almost 900 rooms this pueblo is thought to have housed between 1000 and 1500 people. El Morro's base contains hundreds of Indian petroglyphs and the chiseled names of numerous explorers, soldiers, settlers and immigrants. The first European inscription was made in 1605 by Juan de Oñate, first governor of New Mexico. The national monument is administered by the National Park Service and is located 43 miles southwest of Grants, New Mexico, off NM 53. It is open daily. Contact: El Morro National Monument, HC 61 Box 43, Ramah, New Mexico  87321, 505-783-4226 ext. 0.


Escalante Ruin, Colorado - The Escalante Ruin was first investigated in 1776 by the Domínguez-Escalante Expedition looking for a northern route from the New Mexico missions to the ones at Monterey, California. The ruin consists of a partially excavated multi-storied masonry pueblo with at least 20 rooms and a kiva. Built by the San Juan Anasazi between 900 and 1300 A.D., it is representative of the small surface pueblos that were once common throughout the region. The Escalante Ruin is located at the Anasazi Heritage Center, an anthropological museum with exhibits on prehistoric Anasazi culture. It is situated two miles south of Dolores, Colorado, on CO 145, then ½  mile west on CO 184. A trail leads from the Anasazi Heritage Center to the ruin. It is open daily. More Information: Escalante Ruin, 27501 Highway 184, Dolores, Colorado 81323, 970-882-5600.


Gila Cliff Dwelling, New MexicoGila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, New Mexico  - National monument preserves cliff dwellings and other significant archeological remains left by prehistoric American Indians of the MogollonCulture. The well preserved cliff dwellings, constructed in the late 1200's, contain 42 rooms and are located within five natural caves in a narrow side canyon above the Gila River. The TJ Ruin contains unexcavated remains of a small pueblo inhabited for roughly 900 years beginning about. 500 A.D. The national monument is administered jointly by the National Park Service and the Forest Service. It is 44 miles north of Silver City, New Mexico, at the end of NM 15. The cliff dwellings trail and Visitors Center are open daily. More information: Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, HC 68 Box 100, Silver City, New Mexico 88061, 575-536-9461.


Homolovi Ruins State Park, Arizona - In the high grassland of 14th century northern Arizona, Ancient Puebloans found a home along the Little Colorado River. These people, the Hisat'sinom (known to archaeologists as the Anasazi, paused in their migrations to till the rich flood plain and sandy slopes before continuing north to join people already living on the mesas, people who are today known as the Hopi. The Hopi people of today still consider Homolovi, as well as other pre-columbian sites in the southwest, to be part of their homeland. They continue to make pilgrimages to these sites, renewing the ties of the people with the land. The site includes a visitor center and museum. More information: Homolovi Ruins State Park,



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