Homolovi Timeline

Homolovi Timeline


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Petrified Forest National Park

Petrified Forest National Park is an American national park in Navajo and Apache counties in northeastern Arizona. Named for its large deposits of petrified wood, the park covers about 346 square miles (900 square kilometers), encompassing semi-desert shrub steppe as well as highly eroded and colorful badlands. The park's headquarters is about 26 miles (42 km) east of Holbrook along Interstate 40 (I-40), which parallels the BNSF Railway's Southern Transcon, the Puerco River, and historic U.S. Route 66, all crossing the park roughly east–west. The site, the northern part of which extends into the Painted Desert, was declared a national monument in 1906 and a national park in 1962. The park received 644,922 recreational visitors in 2018.

Averaging about 5,400 feet (1,600 m) in elevation, the park has a dry windy climate with temperatures that vary from summer highs of about 100 °F (38 °C) to winter lows well below freezing. More than 400 species of plants, dominated by grasses such as bunchgrass, blue grama, and sacaton, are found in the park. Fauna include larger animals such as pronghorns, coyotes, and bobcats, many smaller animals, such as deer mice, snakes, lizards, seven kinds of amphibians, and more than 200 species of birds, some of which are permanent residents and many of which are migratory. About one third of the park is designated wilderness—50,260 acres (79 sq mi 203 km 2 ). [8]

The Petrified Forest is known for its fossils, especially fallen trees that lived in the Late Triassic Epoch, about 225 million years ago. The sediments containing the fossil logs are part of the widespread and colorful Chinle Formation, from which the Painted Desert gets its name. Beginning about 60 million years ago, the Colorado Plateau, of which the park is part, was pushed upward by tectonic forces and exposed to increased erosion. All of the park's rock layers above the Chinle, except geologically recent ones found in parts of the park, have been removed by wind and water. In addition to petrified logs, fossils found in the park have included Late Triassic ferns, cycads, ginkgoes, and many other plants as well as fauna including giant reptiles called phytosaurs, large amphibians, and early dinosaurs. Paleontologists have been unearthing and studying the park's fossils since the early 20th century.

The park's earliest human inhabitants arrived at least 8,000 years ago. By about 2,000 years ago, they were growing corn in the area and shortly thereafter building pit houses in what would become the park. Later inhabitants built above-ground dwellings called pueblos. Although a changing climate caused the last of the park's pueblos to be abandoned by about 1400 CE, more than 600 archeological sites, including petroglyphs, have been discovered in the park. In the 16th century, Spanish explorers visited the area, and by the mid-19th century a U.S. team had surveyed an east–west route through the area where the park is now located and noted the petrified wood. Later, roads and a railway followed similar routes and gave rise to tourism and, before the park was protected, to large-scale removal of fossils. Theft of petrified wood remains a problem in the 21st century.


Homolovi Exhibit Extended, Virtual Talk Added

Thanks to the generosity of the exhibit’s creators at the Arizona State Museum in Tucson, Life Along the River: Ancestral Hopi at Homol’ovi will be on view at the Winslow Arts Trust Museum through January 2022. The exhibit was originally scheduled to close at the WAT Museum in January 2021.

In addition, the Winslow partners hosted a virtual presentation on Saturday, January 23, by Dr. E. Charles Adams (at left), director of the Arizona State Museum’s Homol’ovi Research Program from 1985 to 2017. Life Along the River — which synthesizes more than thirty years of archaeological research by the program — features images, maps, and present-day Hopi voices that tell the story of the people who lived in seven villages along the Little Colorado River, near what is now Winslow, in the 1300s. In New Knowledge from Old Sites: Hopi at Homol’ovi (click to see recording), Dr. Adams discussed how that research revealed a timeline for the area, the relationships among its inhabitants, and the importance of the river in their lifeways.

The exhibit’s Winslow run is hosted by a partnership between Homolovi State Park, the Winslow Arts Trust (WAT), and the Old Trails Museum, and in cooperation with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office. You can see the Life Along the River exhibit at the WAT Museum by making a reservation with the La Posada Hotel Front Desk at 928-289-4366. You can also visit Homolovi State Park, located just a few miles east of La Posada, which is currently open with some restrictions.

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The Old Trails Museum explores the history and cultures of Winslow, Arizona, and the surrounding area.

Visit OTM

212 N Kinsley Avenue (map)
Winslow, Arizona 86047
928.289.5861
[email protected]

Open Tuesdays-Saturdays
from 11 am to 3 pm
Check Visit for holiday closures


Homolovi Exhibit Opens in Winslow

Homolovi State Park, the Winslow Arts Trust (WAT), and the Old Trails Museum – in cooperation with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office – have created a unique partnership to host a major exhibition in northeastern Arizona: Life Along the River: Ancestral Hopi at Homol’ovi.

Join us for the exhibition’s Grand Opening on January 18, 2020, at 2 pm at the WAT Museum at La Posada Hotel, 333 East 2 nd Street. The event will include the Hopi Polequaptewa Dancers and comments by Dr. E. Charles Adams. Life Along the River: Ancestral Hopi at Homol’ovi will be on display through January 10, 2021.

Created by the Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the exhibition synthesizes more than thirty years of archaeological research by the museum’s Homol’ovi Research Program. Through images, maps, and the voices of present-day Hopi, it tells the story of the people who lived in seven villages along the Little Colorado River – near what is now Winslow – in the 1300s. Present-day Hopi refer to the former settlements nestled among the small, raised buttes as Homol’ovi, “place of little hills.”

Dr. Adams, now retired, directed the Homol’ovi Research Program from 1985 to 2017. “We found the (archaeological) record remarkably intact and fully able to tell the stories of the place,” said Adams, who credits the program’s work with revealing a timeline for life at Homol’ovi, the relationships among the area’s inhabitants, and the importance of the river in their lifeways.

The exhibition also illustrates how collaborative research with descendant communities increases our understanding of the past and enhances the interpretation of archaeological resources. In recognition of its important archaeological resources, the Homol’ovi area became Arizona’s first archaeological state park in 1986 through a wide-ranging partnership between the Hopi people, state agencies, the governor’s office, local civic leaders, and avocational archaeologists.

After viewing Life Along the River: Ancestral Hopi at Homol’ovi, attendees are invited to visit Homolovi State Park and see how the pueblos and artifacts have been protected. Take the short 10-minute drive from the WAT Museum by going east on 2nd Street to 87 North turn left and take 87 North to Winslow-Polacca Road and turn left to arrive at the Homolovi State Park Visitors Center (see map below).


Online Learning Resources

Maps of ancient and modern-day Indigenous groups in Arizona
Students can identify the 22 federally recognized tribes of Arizona today and look at the cultural groupings of Indigenous peoples in Arizona 700 years ago (1300 CE).
https://statemuseum.arizona.edu/online-exhibit/ancient-and-modern-arizona

Paths of Life: American Indians of the U.S. Southwest and Northwest Mexico
A quick way for students to learn the history of tribal cultural groups in Arizona and northwest Mexico.

Introductory Video to the Paths of Life exhibit
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=79oUuR6uwVs

Virtual Reality Tour of the Path of Life exhibit
https://statemuseum.arizona.edu/exhibits/paths-of-life

Yaqui Musical Instrument Lotería Game
Students will become familiar with musical instruments used for Yaqui celebrations and ceremonies. Download boards and cards for this tri-lingual (Yaqui, English, Spanish) “bingo” game. Included are fully colored boards and cards, as well as a set that can be colored once downloaded. There is also a PDF giving the history of lotería and instructions for playing the game.
https://learninglab.si.edu/collections/la-lotera-a-mexican-bingo-game/bDNuPbo5ATe3wfPx#r

Yaqui Masks from ASM’s James S. Griffith Collection
Students can learn about Yaqui masks—their history, symbolism, and how they are made—through images and background materials.
https://statemuseum.arizona.edu/online-exhibit/masks/slideshow-masks

AMERICAN INDIAN ART

American Indian Artists, In Their Own Words

Rachel Espinosa (Salt River Pima-Maricopa, painting)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ImVvwBQawp4

Upton Ethelbah (White Mountain Apache and Santa Clara Pueblo, sculpture)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7EW__2UR4aM

Susan Folwell (Santa Clara Pueblo, pottery)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fMe_2khYSus

Terrol Dew Johnson (Tohono O’odham, basket weaving)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PhKZSOGR-U

Adrian “Admo” Morris (Navajo and Laguna, print making)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h72PwyYx_3E

Shelden Nunez-Velarde (Jicarilla Apache, pottery and basket weaving)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6C7oO3EcpMc

Allenroy Paquin (Jicarilla Apache and Zuni, jewelry)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zjw_iOVUyhM

Dino Patterson (Hopi sculptor)
https://youtu.be/dpLsQqmMYlQ

Harrison Preston (Tohono O’odham, basket weaving)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tojBZGMtk0Y

Gerry Quotskuyva (Hopi, carving, sculpture, multi-media)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIakSXZmN_8

Matagi Sorensen (Yavapai-Apache fine-art jewelry artist)
https://youtu.be/zJQ5q9TBmWs

Kathy Vance (Tohono O’odham and San Carlos Apache, pottery)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMZqELhOJBc

American Indian Basketry

Virtual Reality tour of Woven Through Time: American Treasures of Native Basketry and Fiber Art
https://statemuseum.arizona.edu/online-exhibit/virtual-reality-tour-woven-through-time

Woven Through Time exhibit video about basketmaking traditions including harvesting of materials
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLpITQWqSDo

Split-twig Animal Activity: Video and Activity Sheet

American Indian Painting

American Indian Pottery

Life of a Hopi Pot video (from excavation to curation)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NCYpWeO6D4I

Navajo Weaving

History of Navajo Weaving with Dr. Ann Lane Hedlund
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oexZHqIrdrg

A Loom with a View: Modern Navajo Weavers
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HkAggO4D8Og

Video Interview with Master Weaver Barbara Teller Ornelas
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1GpjgZBFCc

HEALTH AND AGRICULTURE

It’s Up 2 You!, a digital comic book
Students will learn about making healthy choices for living through the lives of these comic book characters. They can read the comic book in English or listen to the characters speaking Tohono O’odham, Spanish, or English.
https://statemuseum.arizona.edu/online-exhibit/its-2-you

Tohono O’odham Community Action Y.O.U.T.H. on Health, Family and Community
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bkLhl7cKvAQ

The Resiliency of Hopi Agriculture: 2,000 Years of Planting – English closed captioned
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=28gAFESNGMU&t=4s

The Resiliency of Hopi Agriculture: 2,000 Years of Planting – English with Spanish subtitles (La longevidad de la agricultura de los Hopis)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9lI20dHSDLA&t=2s

IDENTITY

Dressed to Express: Exploring Dress, Culture and Identity in American Indian Objects and Dress Curriculum Module
By doing the activities in this unit, students build research, observation, and analysis skills, as well as develop respect for different people’s expressions of and ownership of identity. The exercises focus on three contemporary Indigenous artists’ works that reflect their cultural identity and the environment where they live.
https://www.locallearningnetwork.org/education-resources/museum-modules/exploring-dress-culture-and-identity-in-american-indian-objects-and-dress/

Photo ID: Portraits by Native Youth
An online exhibit that asks students to consider how we construct identity. They will learn about how Native peoples have been represented historically by non-Native photographers, such as Edward S. Curtis, and will see contemporary photographs by Native youth. More recently photography has been used as a social justice tool by youth and other groups to establish and express their own identities. Students will be invited to create their own portraits in response to the exhibit.
https://statemuseum.arizona.edu/online-exhibit/photo-id-portraits-native-youth

MEXICAN INDIGENOUS TEXTILE TRADITIONS

Indigenous Mexican Textile Weavers from ASM’s Cordry Collection
Become familiar with Indigenous Mexican textiles and tools used by the weavers through these historic photographs from the Donald B. Cordry Collection.
https://learninglab.si.edu/collections/arizona-state-museum-donald-cordry-photographs-of-mexican-indian-costumes/5e922N3dBmn1Cthk

What Would Frida Wear?
Learn about Indigenous Mexican textiles that were often worn by the iconic Mexican artist, Frida Kahlo. Students will enjoy dressing Frida in traditional huipils and quechquemitls.

MEXICAN REVOLUTION

The Mexican Revolution and Beyond (videos from a 2009 symposium)

Honorable Juan Manuel Calderón-Jaimes, Consul of Mexico (Tucson), discusses the exhibit, Mexico, the Revolution and Beyond: The Casasola Archives, 1900-1940.In Spanish. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rslpaXcDR0U

Ten Days That Shook the World—The First Time: The Casasola Archives and the First Social Revolution by Dr. William Beezley
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R74IeqFj4aE

Reading Casasolas Photographs as Visual Documents by Cass Fey
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QgzkUuehyhE&t=3s

Documenting the Mexican Revolution: Casasola and Corridos by Dr. Celestino Fernandez with Guillermo Saenz
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kAJPZxT9v6Y&t=2s

The Mexican Revolution: 1810, 1910, 2010? by Dr. Roberto Cintli Rodríguez
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6ibjDs9C2HM

MIGRATION AND IMMIGRATION HISTORY

Hopi Clan Migrations: Coming to and Leaving Homol'ovi (7 min 15 sec)
Hopi elders tell stories about early Hopi clan migrations into and out of Homol’ovi, a site along the Little Colorado River
occupied from (1260-1400 AD). Many clans at Hopi today trace their roots to these migrations.


U.S. Immigration

U.S. Immigration: Linking Past to Present Video: Students will learn about the history of U.S. immigration policies
from colonial times to 2016.

Discussion Guide: Use this discussion guide to facilitate a class discussion related to the video or for writing assignments.
Also included are links to organizations working on issues related to immigration and migration.

Protecting Tribal Lands and Sacred Places: A presentation by the Honorable Ned Norris, Jr., Chairman of the Tohono
O'odham Nation, part of Arizona State Museum's 2020 "Border Barriers: History and Impact" series of talks about the
history and impact of border barriers on people and the environment.

Massive Fortification of the U.S. Border: A Modern History: Todd Miller, journalist/writer, addresses the U.S. border
wall's history and border-enforcement practices, and discusses how these have affected the U.S./Mexico divide.

Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo: A Living Document (videos from a 2014 symposium)


“Life Along the River, Ancestral Hopi at Homol’ovi” opens at WAT Museum

Life Along the River, Ancestral Hopi at Homol’ovi, is on view at the Winslow Arts Trust Museum located adjacent to La Posada Hotel from January 18, 2020 through January 10, 2021. Exhibit hours are Wednesday through Sunday from 9 AM to 5 PM. Admission is free.

Homolovi State Park, the Winslow Arts Trust (WAT), and the Old Trails Museum – in cooperation with the Hopi Cultural Preservation Office – have created a unique partnership to host a major exhibition in northeastern Arizona: Life Along the River: Ancestral Hopi at Homol’ovi.

Created by the Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona in Tucson, the exhibition synthesizes more than thirty years of archaeological research by the museum’s Homol’ovi Research Program. Through images, maps, and the voices of present-day Hopi, it tells the story of the people who lived in seven villages along the Little Colorado River – near what is now Winslow – in the 1300s. Present-day Hopi refer to the former settlements nestled among the small, raised buttes as Homol’ovi, “place of little hills.”

Dr. Adams, now retired, directed the Homol’ovi Research Program from 1985 to 2017. “We found the (archaeological) record remarkably intact and fully able to tell the stories of the place,” said Adams, who credits the program’s work with revealing a timeline for life at Homol’ovi, the relationships among the area’s inhabitants, and the importance of the river in their lifeways.

The exhibition also illustrates how collaborative research with descendant communities increases our understanding of the past and enhances the interpretation of archaeological resources. In recognition of its important archaeological resources, the Homol’ovi area became Arizona’s first archaeological state park in 1986 through a wide-ranging partnership between the Hopi people, state agencies, the governor’s office, local civic leaders, and avocational archaeologists.

After viewing Life Along the River: Ancestral Hopi at Homol’ovi, attendees are invited to visit Homolovi State Park and see how the pueblos and artifacts have been protected. Take the short 10-minute drive from the WAT Museum by going east on 2nd Street to 87 North turn left and take 87 North to Winslow-Polacca Road and turn left to arrive at the Homolovi State Park Visitors Center (see map below).


Top Ten: Indian Ruins

The arid American Southwest is world-renowned for its well-preserved archeological treasures, many of which can be found in Arizona. Indians have inhabited this region for thousands of years.

1. Canyon de Chelly National Monument – At the base of sheer red cliffs and in canyon caves are remains of American Indian villages built between A.D. 350 and 1300. Reflecting one of the longest continuously inhabited landscapes of North America, the cultural resources of Canyon de Chelly include distinctive architecture, artifacts, and rock art sites while exhibiting remarkable preservation integrity that provides outstanding opportunities for study and contemplation. All excursions into the canyons must be accompanied by an authorized park ranger or Navajo guide. Canyon de Chelly is unique among National Parks, as it is comprised entirely of Navajo Tribal Trust Land that also sustains a living community of Navajo people. The National Park Service works in partnership with the Navajo Nation to manage park resources. Canyon de Chelly is also known for its abundance of rock art sites which feature images created by both the Anasazi in prehistoric times and the Navajos in historic times.

2. Casa Grande Ruins National Monument – Casa Grande Ruins National Monument preserves an ancient Hohokam farming community and “Great House.” Created as the nation’s first archeological reserve in 1892, the site was declared a National Monument in 1918. One of the largest prehistoric structures ever built in North America, its purpose remains as much a mystery as the people who built it. Archeologists have discovered evidence of wide-scale irrigation farming and trade which lasted over a thousand years and ended about 1450. Today the ancient ones are remembered as the “Hohokam,” an O’odham word meaning “Those Who Are Gone.”

3. Homolovi Ruins State Park – During pre-Columbian times, Homolovi was a crossroads of trade along the Little Colorado River near what is now the town of Winslow. Homolovi, meaning “Place of the Little Hills,” is a sacred place to the Hopi people, and it was once home to the ancient Anasazi.

4. Montezuma Castle National Monument – A twenty-room five-story cliff dwelling, built by the Sinagua people who lived in this area for over 400 years, is nestled into a towering limestone cliff. Although very few original artifacts remained due to intensive looting of the site, the structure is one of the best preserved prehistoric cliff dwellings in North America. In 1951, the National Park Service closed off public access to the ancient cliff dwelling to prevent damage to the structure. A self-guided, 1/3-mile loop trail leads visitors below the cliff dwelling and through a beautiful sycamore grove along spring-fed Beaver Creek, one of only a few perennial streams in Arizona. There is a museum on the site as well as daily ranger talks. Montezuma Well, another part of Montezuma Castle National Monument, is located 11 miles from the cliff dwelling. Formed long ago by the collapse of a limestone cavern, a constant supply of fresh warm water provides an aquatic habitat like no other in the world, and has served as an oasis for wildlife and humans for thousands of years.

5. Navajo National Monument – Rangers guide visitors on tours of the cliff dwellings named Keet Seel (an 8-mile hike) and Betatakin (a 2.5 mile strenuous hike). Keet Seel is considered by many archaeological experts to be one of the best preserved larger ruins in the American Southwest. These cliff pueblos are so well preserved because they were built in protective alcoves. The structures were constructed mainly of sandstone blocks plastered together with mud and mortar. There were also a number of structures believed to be built at the base of the cliff. But without the protection of the over-hanging cliff wall, their exposure to the elements led to their destruction by erosion.

6. Pueblo Grande Museum and Archaeological Park – This park located in central Phoenix near Sky Harbor Airport preserves the remains of a 1,500-year-old Hohokam village. There is an interpretive trail as well as an onsite museum with three exhibit galleries and a theater featuring displays of the Hohokam and other cultures of the Southwest. The site also includes some of the last remaining intact Hohokam irrigation canals. Explore these prehistoric Hohokam Indian ruins, and let your children discover the excitement of archaeology in hands-on exhibits.

7. Tonto National Monument – Situated within rugged terrain in the northeastern part of the Sonoran Desert, these well-preserved cliff dwellings in shallow caves overlooking the Tonto Basin were occupied during the 13th, 14th, and early 15th centuries until about AD 1450. The people farmed in the Salt River Valley and supplemented their diet by hunting and gathering native wildlife and plants. They were fine craftsmen, producing some of the most exquisite polychrome pottery and intricately woven textiles to be found in the Southwest. Many of these objects are on display in the Visitor Center museum. The half-mile self-guided tour climbs 350 vertical feet to the Lower and Upper ruins (elevation 3,150 feet). This is a small park that’s not very heavily visited, so you can enjoy the walk amid lovely desert scenery while avoiding crowds most of the year. March is the busiest month because of the beautiful wildflower displays. However, due to active beehives, the cliff dwellings may sometimes be closed without notice.

8. Tuzigoot National Monument – Tuzigoot is an ancient pueblo village built by a culture known as the Sinagua. The Sinagua were agriculturalists with trade connections that spanned hundreds of miles. The pueblo consisted of 110 rooms including second and third story structures crowning a desert hilltop. The first buildings were built around A.D. 1000. The people left the area around 1400.

9. Walnut Canyon National Monument – Walk in the footsteps of people from long ago and peer into their homes built deep within the canyon walls. You will see 25 cliff dwelling rooms along the main trail, and more are visible across the canyon. The trail descends 185 vertical feet into the canyon, and returns the same way. There are some steep dropoffs and places without handrails, so keep kids close. Another trail overlooks but does not enter the canyon.

10. Wupatki National Monument – The large pueblos preserved at Wupatki National Monument were constructed following the eruption of nearby Sunset Crater, sometime between 1040 and 1100. Volcanic ash improved farming for an increased population, and Wupatki was once the largest pueblo around. It was a cultural crossroads and an important center for trade. There are more than 800 identified ruins spread around many miles of desert within Wupatki National Monument, but five of the largest are close to the main road.


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The plateau, part of the larger Colorado Plateau, is bordered on the south by the Grand Canyon and reaches an elevation of 9,200 feet (2,800 m). The plateau is divided between Kaibab National Forest and the "North Rim" portion of Grand Canyon National Park. Tributary canyons of the Colorado River form the plateau's eastern and western boundaries, and tiers of uplifted cliffs define the northern edges of the landform. Winter snowfall is often heavy (sometimes exceeding 17 feet [5.2 m]), and this creates opportunities for backcountry Nordic skiing and snow camping. [5]

This broad feature is heavily forested with aspen, spruce-fir, ponderosa pine, and pinyon-juniper woodland, and stands in sharp contrast to the arid lowlands encircling it. The cool forests of the plateau are home to the Kaibab squirrel, which is endemic to the region. Other fauna includes deer, turkey, cougar, and bobcat. The Kaibab deer are particularly important because of the changes in their population during the early 1900s. This particular fluctuation is a great example of population engineering and the effects humans can have on nature.

The Kaibab Plateau consists of approximately 1,152 square miles (2,980 km 2 ) which are above 6,000 feet (1,800 m). The highest point has an elevation of 9,200 feet (2,800 m), [2] [6] a topographic prominence of 3,580 feet (1,090 m), [2] and a topographic isolation of 70.44 miles (113.36 km). [3] The plateau is bounded on the south by the Grand Canyon of the Colorado River, the elevation in this southern area of the plateau varies from 8,800 feet (2,700 m) to slightly less than 6,000 feet (1,800 m).

The most extensive platform of the plateau is the Esplanade, which is called "Sand Rocks" by local cowboys. This area was formed as a result from weathering of the Hermit shale, which left a hard layer of Permian sandstone exposed. This red sandstone is one of the outstanding features of the plateau.

The plateau's western boundary is the Kanab Creek Canyon which high perpendicular walls form a natural barrier to the movement of most animals. The northwestern boundary of the plateau is marked by a fault line north of the Snake Gulch which is approximately sixteen miles to the east of the Kanab Creek. The eastern boundary is marked by the so-called Houserock Valley, which is a marble platform caused by a monoclinical fold, which strata dips down 2,000 to 3,000 feet. [7]

The climate of the Kaibab Plateau consists of rain and thunderstorms in late summer during the summer monsoon season, snow, heavy at times, in winter, and drier weather in early summer. There was an average annual precipitation of 26.57 inches (67.5 cm) for the period 1925 to 1936. During winter, snow is heavy and often accumulates at a depth of 8–10 feet (2.4–3.0 m). June is the driest month of the year, followed by May and early July.

Storms occur several times each week until early September. The highest portions of the plateau are usually touched by snow, and snowstorms usually occur between May and September. [7]

At the beginning of the 20th century, the Kaibab Plateau was witness to an interesting experiment in what some might call population engineering. The plateau's pre-1905 population of mule deer was estimated to be around 4,000. This number was never confirmed by any kind of count or survey, and has become an accepted number mainly because no other estimate is available. The average carrying capacity of the land was unknown, in part because this concept was not widely used by naturalists at the time. Years later, Aldo Leopold estimated that the capacity had been about 30,000 deer. [ citation needed ]

The idea in 1906 was simply to protect and expand the herd, so on November 28, President Theodore Roosevelt created the Grand Canyon National Game Preserve. Overgrazing by herds of sheep, cattle, and horses had taken place on the plateau since the 1880s. During that time, many predators were also killed by ranchers and bounty hunters. By the time Roosevelt established the game preserve, ranchers had moved most domestic livestock elsewhere. The primary change brought by the creation of the game preserve was to ban deer hunting. Government efforts, led by the United States Forest Service, began to protect the deer's numbers by killing off their natural predators once again to this end, between 1907 and 1939, 816 mountain lions, 20 wolves, 7388 coyotes and over 500 bobcats were reportedly killed. [8]

The deer population experienced a great increase in numbers during the early decades of the 20th century. One estimate put the population as high as 100,000 deer inhabiting the range in 1924. Again, there was no systematic survey to support this estimate, which may have been exaggerated to twice the actual number. Shortly after that time, however, the deer population did begin to decline from over-browsing. By the mid-1920s, many deer were starving to death.

After a heated legal dispute between the federal government and the state of Arizona, hunting was once more permitted, to reduce the deer's numbers. Hunters were able to kill only a small fraction of the starving deer. The range itself was damaged, and its carrying capacity was greatly reduced.

Prey and predator population dynamics Edit

Once ecologists began to study the area and reflect on the changes that had occurred there, they began to use the Kaibab deer as a simple lesson about how the removal of the deer's natural predators, which had been done in the interest of preserving the deer population, had allowed the deer to over-reproduce, and quickly overwhelm the plateau's resources. Some ecologists suggested that the situation highlighted the importance of keeping a population in balance with its environment's carrying capacity.

The more meaningful lesson of the Kaibab suggests that human efforts to protect wildlife and preserve wild areas must be balanced with ecological complexity and social priorities that are difficult to predict. Changes take place, sometimes rapidly, but their effects linger for decades. Today, the Arizona Game Commission manages the area, controlling the numbers of deer as well as predators, and issues hunting permits to keep the deer in balance with the range. [9]

Although the story of the Kaibab deer rose to fame in the 1920s due to their sudden increase and decrease in population, the story can also be used to demonstrate the way in which scientific studies and ideas about history can help educate current students. The first interpretation of the deer story as demonstrated in textbooks was that predator control had destroyed the deer’s population growth. It was thought that initially the high number of deer predators were obtruding the growth of the deer’s population, therefore rules were put in place in order to minimize the predator population and allow the deer to increase their population size. However, as scientific studies continued, ecologist Greame Caughley suggested that predator control alone could not have caused the Kaibab irruption, but rather factors like climate, grazing by other animals, and preservation policies actually had more significant impacts on the deer [10]

Caughley’s opinion led to confusion by teachers and scientists over what to include and teach in ecology and biology classes, therefore this story stopped being used as an example of prey and predator population dynamics. This is important to the development of scientific studies because it shows that events—-like the Kaibab deer controversy—-do not have a definitive start and beginning but include other opinions and approaches which teachers use to showcase the richness of controversy.

The Kaibab deer controversy has revolutionized the way science is taught in textbooks, and the way students question ecology and biology. In addition, students now learn that human intervention can lead to big repercussions regarding specific animal’s population and development in certain regions.


Contents

The park gets its name from the saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea), [4] a large cactus that is native to the Sonoran Desert and that does not grow naturally elsewhere. [5] Rincón—as in Rincon Mountains, Rincon Creek, and Rincon Valley—is Spanish for corner, [6] and refers to the shape of the mountain range and its footprint. [7] The name Tucson derives from Papago-Piman words cuk ṣon [ˡtʃukʂɔn], meaning dark spring or brown spring. [8] Tank or Tanque refers to a small artificial pool behind a dam that traps runoff in an existing natural depression. [9] Madrean derives from Madre in Sierra Madre [10] (Mother Mountains [11] ).

The park consists of two separate parcels, the Tucson Mountain District (TMD) to the west of Tucson, Arizona, and the Rincon Mountain District (RMD) to the east. Each parcel comes within about 10 miles (16 km) of the center of the city. [12] Their total combined area in 2016 was 91,716 acres (37,116 ha). [1] The Tucson Mountain District covers about 25,000 acres (10,000 ha), [13] while the much larger Rincon Mountain District accounts for the balance of about 67,000 acres (27,000 ha). [14] About 71,000 acres (29,000 ha) of the park, including large fractions of both districts, is designated wilderness. [15]

Interstate 10, the major highway nearest to the park, passes through Tucson. [16] Tucson Mountain Park abuts the south side of the Tucson Mountain District, and to its west lies the Avra Valley. [16] The Rincon Mountain Wilderness, a separate protected area of about 37,000 acres (15,000 ha) [17] in the Coronado National Forest, [18] abuts the Rincon Mountain District on the east and southeast, while the Rincon Valley lies immediately south of the western part of the Rincon Mountain District. [16]

Both districts conserve tracts of the Sonoran Desert, including ranges of significant hills, the Tucson Mountains in the west and the Rincon Mountains in the east. [4] Elevations in the Tucson Mountain District range from 2,180 to 4,687 feet (664 to 1,429 m), [4] the summit of Wasson Peak. [19] Elevations within the Rincon Mountain District vary from 2,670 to 8,666 feet (814 to 2,641 m) [4] at the summit of Mica Mountain.

Saguaro National Park lies within the watershed of the north-flowing Santa Cruz River, [20] which is generally dry. [21] Rincon Creek in the southern part of the Rincon Mountain District, free-flowing for at least part of the year, has the largest riparian zone in the park. The creek is a tributary of Pantano Wash, which crosses Tucson from southeast to northwest to meet Tanque Verde Wash. The two washes form the Rillito River, another dry wash, [6] an east–west tributary of the Santa Cruz River. [16] The washes in both districts are usually dry but are subject at times to flash floods. [22] Smaller riparian zones are found near springs and tinajas in the Rincon Mountain District. [23] The largest of the springs is at Manning Camp, high in the Rincons. [24]

According to the Köppen climate classification system, Saguaro National Park has a Hot semi-arid climate (BSh). According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the Plant Hardiness zone at Red Hills Visitor Center 2,553 feet (778 m) is 9b with an average annual extreme minimum temperature of 25.8 °F (−3.4 °C), and 9a with an average annual extreme minimum temperature of 23.4 °F (−4.8 °C) at Rincon Mountain Visitor Center 3,091 feet (942 m). [25]

Brief violent summer rains are usually accompanied by lightning, dust storms and flash floods. [26] Some moisture at the highest elevations in the Rincons falls as snow in winter snowmelt adds to the limited water available at lower elevations later in the year. [27]

Studies of the effects of climate change on the park show that its annual mean temperature rose about 4 ℉ (2.2 C) from 1900 to 2010. [28] [29]

Climate data for Red Hills Visitor Center, Saguaro National Park. Elev: 2579 ft (786 m)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 66.2
(19.0)
69.1
(20.6)
74.8
(23.8)
83.1
(28.4)
92.4
(33.6)
101.1
(38.4)
101.0
(38.3)
98.6
(37.0)
96.1
(35.6)
86.4
(30.2)
74.6
(23.7)
65.4
(18.6)
84.1
(28.9)
Daily mean °F (°C) 53.1
(11.7)
55.7
(13.2)
60.5
(15.8)
67.5
(19.7)
76.2
(24.6)
85.1
(29.5)
87.8
(31.0)
85.9
(29.9)
82.4
(28.0)
72.0
(22.2)
60.6
(15.9)
52.3
(11.3)
70.0
(21.1)
Average low °F (°C) 39.9
(4.4)
42.3
(5.7)
46.2
(7.9)
51.9
(11.1)
60.0
(15.6)
69.1
(20.6)
74.5
(23.6)
73.3
(22.9)
68.7
(20.4)
57.6
(14.2)
46.7
(8.2)
39.1
(3.9)
55.8
(13.2)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 0.97
(25)
0.92
(23)
0.90
(23)
0.34
(8.6)
0.19
(4.8)
0.30
(7.6)
1.99
(51)
2.51
(64)
1.09
(28)
0.94
(24)
0.58
(15)
1.00
(25)
11.73
(298)
Average relative humidity (%) 40.2 37.6 31.4 23.5 19.8 17.9 31.3 40.2 33.7 30.4 33.5 40.7 31.7
Average dew point °F (°C) 29.5
(−1.4)
30.2
(−1.0)
30.0
(−1.1)
28.9
(−1.7)
31.9
(−0.1)
36.7
(2.6)
53.7
(12.1)
58.9
(14.9)
51.0
(10.6)
39.2
(4.0)
31.7
(−0.2)
29.1
(−1.6)
37.6
(3.1)
Source: PRISM Climate Group [30]
Climate data for Rincon Mountain Visitor Center, Saguaro National Park. Elev: 3048 ft (929 m)
Month Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Year
Average high °F (°C) 65.0
(18.3)
67.7
(19.8)
73.1
(22.8)
80.8
(27.1)
90.2
(32.3)
99.1
(37.3)
98.9
(37.2)
96.3
(35.7)
94.0
(34.4)
84.3
(29.1)
73.4
(23.0)
64.6
(18.1)
82.3
(27.9)
Daily mean °F (°C) 51.3
(10.7)
53.7
(12.1)
58.3
(14.6)
64.8
(18.2)
73.8
(23.2)
82.7
(28.2)
85.3
(29.6)
83.5
(28.6)
80.0
(26.7)
69.5
(20.8)
58.7
(14.8)
50.7
(10.4)
67.8
(19.9)
Average low °F (°C) 37.5
(3.1)
39.6
(4.2)
43.5
(6.4)
48.8
(9.3)
57.3
(14.1)
66.2
(19.0)
71.7
(22.1)
70.6
(21.4)
66.1
(18.9)
54.8
(12.7)
44.0
(6.7)
36.8
(2.7)
53.1
(11.7)
Average precipitation inches (mm) 1.15
(29)
1.15
(29)
1.15
(29)
0.36
(9.1)
0.24
(6.1)
0.26
(6.6)
2.57
(65)
2.63
(67)
1.37
(35)
1.17
(30)
0.75
(19)
1.24
(31)
14.04
(357)
Average relative humidity (%) 40.2 38.5 31.8 24.2 20.6 19.0 33.9 43.2 36.5 32.4 34.0 40.8 32.9
Average dew point °F (°C) 27.9
(−2.3)
29.0
(−1.7)
28.4
(−2.0)
27.3
(−2.6)
30.9
(−0.6)
36.3
(2.4)
53.7
(12.1)
58.8
(14.9)
51.0
(10.6)
38.7
(3.7)
30.4
(−0.9)
27.7
(−2.4)
36.7
(2.6)
Source: PRISM Climate Group [30]

Saguaro National Park's oldest rocks, the Pinal Schist, pre-date the formation of the contemporary Basin and Range Province, of which the park is a part, by about 1.7 billion years. [31] The schist is exposed in the Rincon Mountain District along a dry wash off Cactus Forest Loop Drive. [32] Other ancient rocks, 1.4-billion-year-old altered granites, form much of Tanque Verde Ridge [31] in the Rincon Mountain District.

Much later, about 600 million years ago, shallow seas covered the region around present-day Tucson over time that led to deposition of sedimentary rocks—limestones, sandstones, and shales. [31] Limestone, which occurs in the park in several places, was mined here in the late 19th century to make mortar. [31] The future park land had six lime kilns, two in the Tucson Mountain District, and four in the Rincon Mountain District. Three, all in the Rincon Mountain District, can be visited today—two along the Cactus Forest Trail and one along the Ruiz Trail. [33]

About 80 million years ago tectonic plate movements induced a period of mountain building, the Laramide orogeny, which lasted until about 50 million years ago in western North America. Explosive volcanic eruptions formed the Tucson Mountains about 70 million years ago, [34] and the roof of the volcano at their center collapsed to form a caldera 12 miles (19 km) across. [35] The caldera was eventually filled by debris flows, the intrusion of a granitic pluton, and lava flows, some as recent as 30 to 15 million years ago. [35] Volcanic rocks exposed in and near the Tucson Mountain District are remnants of these events. [34] Examples include large breccia exposed at Grants Pass and a granitic remnant of the magma chamber, which is visible from the Sus Picnic Area in the Tucson Mountain District. [36] Not all of the molten granite reached the surface of the Tucson Mountains some cooled and crystallized far below. [34]

The Tucson Basin and nearby mountains—including the Tucson Mountains to the west, the Santa Catalinas to the north, and the Rincons to the east—are part of the Basin and Range Province extending from northern Mexico to southern Oregon in the United States. [34] The province, of relatively recent geologic origin, formed when plate movements stretched and thinned the Earth's crust in this part of western North America until the crust pulled apart along faults. [34] The Catalina Fault, a low-angle detachment fault, began to form about 30 million years ago about 6 to 8 miles (10 to 13 km) below the surface of the Tucson Mountains. [37] The rocks under the fault, the lower-plate rocks, were eventually displaced 16 to 22 miles (26 to 35 km) east-northeast relative to the rocks above the fault, then uplifted, domed, and eroded to form the Santa Catalina and Rincon mountains visible today. [35] Although the volcanic rocks seen on the surface of the Tucson Mountain District are not found in the Rincon Mountain District, [31] the crystallized granite (Catalina gneiss) from beneath the Tucson Mountains was eventually exposed on the Rincon Mountain District's surface. [35] The most common rock type in the Rincon Mountains, this banded gneiss is visible in the Rincon Mountain District at sites such as Javelina Rocks along the Cactus Forest Loop Drive. [38]

Early Edit

The earliest known residents of the land in and around what later became Saguaro National Park were the Hohokam, who lived there in villages between 200 and 1450 A.D. Petroglyphs and bits of broken pottery are among Hohokam artifacts found in the park. [39] The Hohokam hunted deer and other animals, gathered cholla buds, prickly pears, palo verde pods, and saguaro fruit, and grew corn, beans, and squash. Subsequent indigenous cultures, the Sobaipuri of the Tucson Basin and the Tohono O'odham to the west, may be descendants of the Hohokam, [40] though the evidence is inconclusive. [41]

Spanish explorers first entered Arizona in 1539–40. [40] Non-native settlement of the region near the park did not occur until 1692 with the founding of San Xavier Mission along the Santa Cruz River, [40] [42] which flowed through Tucson. [21] In 1775, the Spaniards built Presidio San Agustín del Tucsón, a military fort in what was then part of New Spain, [43] in part to protect against raids by Apaches. [40]

The lands that eventually would become Saguaro National Park remained relatively free of development until the mid-19th century, after Arizona had become part of the United States. After passage of the Homestead Act of 1862, the arrival of the railroad in 1880, and the end of the Apache Wars in 1886, homesteaders and ranchers established themselves in the Tucson and Rincon Mountains, and miners sought silver, copper, and other valuable ores and minerals. [40] Mining in the park continued intermittently through 1942, [44] while ranching on private in-holdings within the park continued until the mid-1970s. [45]

The defunct Loma Verde Mine, which is still visible in the Rincon Mountain District, [40] produced a small amount of copper and gold between 1897 and 1907. [46] Mining of igneous rock at 149 sites in the Tucson Mountain District sometimes produced ores of modest value in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. [47] The most successful, the Copper King Mine (later renamed the Mile Wide Mine), yielded 34,000 tons of copper, gold, lead, zinc, and molybdenum ores, mostly during the war years of 1917, 1918, and 1941 it closed permanently in 1942 when it became unprofitable. [44]

Ranchers grazed thousands of cattle on public land that would later become part of the park, and homesteaders farmed and ranched at the base of the Rincons, [40] filing homestead applications from the 1890s through 1930. [48] The remains of the former Freeman Homestead, established in 1929, lie along a nature trail in the Rincon Mountain District. The homestead is on the Arizona State Register of Historic Places. [48] Manning Cabin, built in 1905 as a summer retreat for Levi Manning, a wealthy businessman and one-term mayor of Tucson, is part of the infrastructure at Manning Camp near Mica Mountain. [40] [49] Modified and restored after falling into disrepair, it was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1975. [49] Cultural resources in the park include more than 450 archeological sites and more than 60 historic structures. [50]

After 1920 Edit

In 1920 members of the Natural History Society of the University of Arizona expressed interest in establishing a protected area for saguaro, a cactus species familiar to watchers of silent-movie Westerns. In 1928 Homer L. Shantz, a plant scientist and the university's president, joined the efforts to create a saguaro sanctuary, [51] but issues related to funding and management delayed the creation of a park. In 1933 Frank Harris Hitchcock, publisher of the Tucson Citizen and a former United States Postmaster General who was influential in the Republican Party, persuaded U.S. President Herbert Hoover to create Saguaro National Monument. [52] Hoover used his power under the Antiquities Act of 1906 to create the monument by proclamation on March 1, 1933. [53] [54] Later that year President Franklin D. Roosevelt transferred management of the monument, east of Tucson in the Rincon Mountains, to the National Park Service. [51] Between 1936 and 1939, during the Roosevelt administration, the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built the monument's Cactus Forest Loop Drive and related infrastructure. [55] The monument's visitor center opened in the 1950s. [51]

In 1961 President John F. Kennedy—encouraged by Stewart Udall, an Arizonan who was then Secretary of the Interior—added 16,000 acres (6,500 ha) of cactus lands in the Tucson Mountains to the monument. [51] This western district of the monument was carved from Tucson Mountain Park, managed by Pima County. In the 1920s, the Tucson Game Protective Association had persuaded the Department of the Interior to withdraw about 30,000 acres (12,000 ha) in the Tucson Mountains from homesteading and mining and to set it aside as a park and game refuge. Land leased by the county in this set-aside became the Tucson Mountain Recreation Area in 1932. Between 1933 and 1941 CCC workers built structures at eight picnic areas in the county-park portion of the set-aside, five of which later became part of the Tucson Mountain District of the national monument. Their other projects involved road- and trail-building, landscaping, erosion control, and enhancing water supplies for wildlife. Kennedy's 1961 proclamation created the Tucson Mountain District from the northern part of the county park and renamed the original monument lands east of Tucson the Rincon Mountain District. [13] Expansions in 1976 and 1994 brought the total Tucson Mountain District area to 24,818 acres (10,043 ha). In 1994 Congress elevated the combined Tucson Mountain District and Rincon Mountain District to National Park status. [51] The Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021 added 1,232 acres (4.99 km 2 ) to the park. [56]


Contents

Chaco Canyon lies within the San Juan Basin, atop the vast Colorado Plateau, surrounded by the Chuska Mountains to the west, the San Juan Mountains to the north, and the San Pedro Mountains to the east. Ancient Chacoans drew upon dense forests of oak, piñon, ponderosa pine, and juniper to obtain timber and other resources. The canyon itself, located within lowlands circumscribed by dune fields, ridges, and mountains, is aligned along a roughly northwest-to-southeast axis and is rimmed by flat massifs known as mesas. Large gaps between the southwestern cliff faces—side canyons known as rincons—were critical in funneling rain-bearing storms into the canyon and boosting local precipitation levels. [11] The principal Chacoan complexes, such as Pueblo Bonito, Nuevo Alto, and Kin Kletso, have elevations of 6,200 to 6,440 feet (1,890 to 1,960 m).

The alluvial canyon floor slopes downward to the northwest at a gentle grade of 30 feet per mile (6 meters per kilometer) it is bisected by the Chaco Wash, an arroyo that rarely bears water. The canyon's main aquifers were too deep to be of use to ancient Chacoans: only several smaller and shallower sources supported the small springs that sustained them. [12] Today, aside from occasional storm runoff coursing through arroyos, substantial surface water—springs, pools, wells—is virtually nonexistent. [ citation needed ]

After the Pangaean supercontinent sundered during the Cretaceous period, the region became part of a shifting transition zone between a shallow inland sea—the Western Interior Seaway—and a band of plains and low hills to the west. A sandy and swampy coastline oscillated east and west, alternately submerging and uncovering the area atop the present Colorado Plateau that Chaco Canyon now occupies. [13]

The Chaco Wash flowed across the upper strata of what is now the 400-foot (120-meter) Chacra Mesa, cutting into it and gouging out a broad canyon over the course of millions of years. The mesa comprises sandstone and shale formations dating from the Late Cretaceous, [14] which are of the Mesa Verde formation. [13] The canyon bottomlands were further eroded, exposing Menefee Shale bedrock this was subsequently buried under roughly 125 feet (38 m) of sediment. The canyon and mesa lie within the "Chaco Core"—which is distinct from the wider Chaco Plateau, a flat region of grassland with infrequent stands of timber. As the Continental Divide is only 15.5 miles (25 km) east of the canyon, geological characteristics and different patterns of drainage differentiate these two regions both from each other and from the nearby Chaco Slope, the Gobernador Slope, and the Chuska Valley. [15]

An arid region of high xeric scrubland and desert steppe, the canyon and wider basin average 8 inches (200 mm) of rainfall annually the park averages 9.1 inches (230 mm). Chaco Canyon lies on the leeward side of extensive mountain ranges to the south and west, resulting in a rainshadow effect that fosters the prevailing lack of moisture in the region. [16] The region sees four distinct seasons. Rainfall is most likely between July and September, while May and June are the driest months. Orographic precipitation, which results from moisture wrung out of storm systems ascending the mountain ranges around Chaco Canyon, is responsible for most of the summer and winter precipitation, and rainfall increases with higher elevation. [14] Occasional aberrant northward excursions of the intertropical convergence zone may boost precipitation in some years. [ citation needed ]

Chaco endures remarkable climatic extremes: temperatures range between −38 to 102 °F (−39 to 39 °C), [17] and may swing 60 °F (33 °C) in a single day. [8] The region averages fewer than 150 frost-free days per year, and the local climate swings wildly from years of plentiful rainfall to prolonged drought. [18] The heavy influence of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation contributes to the canyon's fickle climate. [17]

Chacoan flora typifies that of North American high deserts: sagebrush and several species of cactus are interspersed with dry scrub forests of piñon and juniper, the latter primarily on the mesa tops. The canyon is far drier than other parts of New Mexico located at similar latitudes and elevations, and it lacks the temperate coniferous forests plentiful to the east. The prevailing sparseness of plants and wildlife was echoed in ancient times, when overpopulation, expanding cultivation, overhunting, habitat destruction, and drought may have led the Chacoans to strip the canyon of wild plants and game. [19] It has been suggested that even during wet periods the canyon was able to sustain only 2,000 people. [20]

Among Chacoan mammals are the plentiful coyote (Canis latrans) mule deer, elk, and pronghorn also live within the canyon, though they are rarely encountered by visitors. Important smaller carnivores include bobcats, badgers, foxes, and two species of skunk. The park hosts abundant populations of rodents, including several prairie dog towns. Small colonies of bats are present during the summer. The local shortage of water means that relatively few bird species are present these include roadrunners, large hawks (such as Cooper's hawks and American kestrels), owls, vultures, and ravens, though they are less abundant in the canyon than in the wetter mountain ranges to the east. Sizeable populations of smaller birds, including warblers, sparrows, and house finches, are also common. Three species of hummingbirds are present: one is the tiny but highly pugnacious rufous hummingbird, which compete intensely with the more mild-tempered black-chinned hummingbirds for breeding habitat in shrubs or trees located near water. Western (prairie) rattlesnakes are occasionally seen in the backcountry, though various lizards and skinks are far more abundant. [ citation needed ]

Archaic–Early Basketmakers Edit

The first people in the San Juan Basin were hunter-gatherers: the Archaic–Early Basketmaker people. These small bands descended from nomadic Clovis big-game hunters who arrived in the Southwest around 10,000 BC. [21] More than 70 campsites from this period, carbon-dated to the period 7000–1500 BC and mostly consisting of stone chips and other leavings, were found in Atlatl Cave and elsewhere within Chaco Canyon, with at least one of the sites located on the canyon floor near an exposed arroyo. The Archaic–Early Basketmaker people were nomadic or semi-nomadic hunter-gatherers who over time began making baskets to store gathered plants. By the end of the period, some people cultivated food. Excavation of their campsites and rock shelters has revealed that they made tools, gathered wild plants, and killed and processed game. Slab-lined storage cists indicate a change from a wholly nomadic lifestyle. [8]

Ancestral Puebloans Edit

By 900 BC, Archaic people lived at Atlatl Cave and like sites. [22] They left little evidence of their presence in Chaco Canyon. By AD 490, their descendants, of the Late Basketmaker II Era, farmed lands around Shabik'eshchee Village and other pit-house settlements at Chaco. [ citation needed ]

A small population of Basketmakers remained in the Chaco Canyon area. The broad arc of their cultural elaboration culminated around 800, during the Pueblo I Era, when they were building crescent-shaped stone complexes, each comprising four to five residential suites abutting subterranean kivas, [23] large enclosed areas reserved for rites. Such structures characterize the Early Pueblo People. By 850, the Ancient Pueblo population—the "Anasazi", from a Ute term adopted by the Navajo denoting the "ancient ones" or "enemy ancestors"—had rapidly expanded: groups resided in larger, more densely populated pueblos. Strong evidence attests to a canyon-wide turquoise processing and trading industry dating from the 10th century. Around then, the first section of Pueblo Bonito was built: a curved row of 50 rooms near its present north wall. [24] [25] Archaeogenomic analysis of the mitochondria of nine skeletons from high-status graves in Pueblo Bonito determined that members of an elite matriline were interred here for approximately 330 years between 800 and 1130, suggesting continuity with the matrilineal succession practices of many Pueblo nations today. [26]

The cohesive Chacoan system began unravelling around 1140, perhaps triggered by an extreme fifty-year drought that began in 1130 [27] chronic climatic instability, including a series of severe droughts, again struck the region between 1250 and 1450. [28] Poor water management led to arroyo cutting deforestation was extensive and economically devastating: [29] [30] [31] timber for construction had to be hauled instead from outlying mountain ranges such as the Chuska mountains, which are more than 50 miles (80 km) to the west. [32] Outlying communities began to depopulate and, by the end of the century, the buildings in the central canyon had been neatly sealed and abandoned. [ citation needed ]

Some scholars suggest that violence and warfare, perhaps involving cannibalism, impelled the evacuations. Hints of such include dismembered bodies—dating from Chacoan times—found at two sites within the central canyon. [33] Yet Chacoan complexes showed little evidence of being defended or defensively sited high on cliff faces or atop mesas. Only several minor sites at Chaco have evidence of the large-scale burning that would suggest enemy raids. [34] Archaeological and cultural evidence leads scientists to believe people from this region migrated south, east, and west into the valleys and drainages of the Little Colorado River, the Rio Puerco, and the Rio Grande. [35] Anthropologist Joseph Tainter deals at length with the structure and decline of Chaco civilization in his 1988 study The Collapse of Complex Societies. [36]

Athabaskan succession Edit

Numic-speaking peoples, such as the Ute and Shoshone, were present on the Colorado Plateau beginning in the 12th century. Nomadic Southern Athabaskan-speaking peoples, such as the Apache and Navajo, succeeded the Pueblo people in this region by the 15th century. In the process, they acquired Chacoan customs and agricultural skills. [35] [37] Ute tribal groups also frequented the region, primarily during hunting and raiding expeditions. The modern Navajo Nation lies west of Chaco Canyon, and many Navajo live in surrounding areas. [38]

Excavation and protection Edit

The first documented trip through Chaco Canyon was an 1823 expedition led by New Mexican governor José Antonio Vizcarra when the area was under Mexican rule. He noted several large ruins in the canyon. [39] The American trader Josiah Gregg wrote about the ruins of Chaco Canyon, referring in 1832 to Pueblo Bonito as "built of fine-grit sandstone". In 1849, a U.S. Army detachment passed through and surveyed the ruins, following United States acquisition of the Southwest with its victory in the Mexican War in 1848. [40] The canyon was so remote, however, that it was scarcely visited over the next 50 years. After brief reconnaissance work by Smithsonian scholars in the 1870s, formal archaeological work began in 1896 when a party from the American Museum of Natural History based in New York City —the Hyde Exploring Expedition—began excavating Pueblo Bonito. Spending five summers in the region, they sent over 60,000 artifacts back to New York and operated a series of trading posts in the area. [41]

In 1901 Richard Wetherill, who had worked for the Hyde expedition, claimed a homestead of 161 acres (65 ha) that included Pueblo Bonito, Pueblo del Arroyo, and Chetro Ketl. [42] [43] While investigating Wetherill's land claim, federal land agent Samuel J. Holsinger detailed the physical setting of the canyon and the sites, noted prehistoric road segments and stairways above Chetro Ketl, and documented prehistoric dams and irrigation systems. [44] [45] [45] His report went unpublished and unheeded. It urged the creation of a national park to safeguard Chacoan sites.

The next year, Edgar Lee Hewett, president of New Mexico Normal University (later renamed New Mexico Highlands University), mapped many Chacoan sites. Hewett and others helped enact the Federal Antiquities Act of 1906, the first U.S. law to protect relics it was, in effect, a direct consequence of Wetherill's controversial activities at Chaco. [46] The Act also authorized the President to establish national monuments: on March 11, 1907, Theodore Roosevelt proclaimed Chaco Canyon National Monument. Wetherill relinquished his land claims. [8]

In 1920, the National Geographic Society began an archaeological examination of Chaco Canyon and appointed Neil Judd, then 32, to head the project. After a reconnaissance trip that year, Judd proposed to excavate Pueblo Bonito, the largest ruin at Chaco. Beginning in 1921, Judd spent seven field seasons at Chaco. Living and working conditions were spartan at best. In his memoirs, Judd noted dryly that "Chaco Canyon has its limitations as a summer resort". By 1925, Judd's excavators had removed 100,000 short tons of overburden, using a team of "35 or more Indians, ten white men, and eight or nine horses". Judd's team found only 69 hearths in the ruin, a puzzling discovery as winters are cold at Chaco. [47] Judd sent A. E. Douglass more than 90 specimens for tree-ring dating, then in its infancy. At that time, Douglass had only a "floating" chronology. it was not until 1929 that a Judd-led team found the "missing link". Most of the beams used at Chaco were cut between 1033 and 1092, the height of construction there. [47]

In 1949, the University of New Mexico deeded over adjoining lands to form an expanded Chaco Canyon National Monument. In return, the university maintained scientific research rights to the area. By 1959, the National Park Service had constructed a park visitor center, staff housing, and campgrounds. As a historic property of the National Park Service, the National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. In 1971, researchers Robert Lister and James Judge established the "Chaco Center," a division for cultural research that functioned as a joint project between the University of New Mexico and the National Park Service. A number of multi-disciplinary research projects, archaeological surveys, and limited excavations began during this time. The Chaco Center extensively surveyed the Chacoan roads, well-constructed and strongly reinforced thoroughfares radiating from the central canyon. [48]

The richness of the cultural remains at park sites led to the expansion of the small National Monument into the Chaco Culture National Historical Park on December 19, 1980, when an additional 13,000 acres (5,300 ha) were added to the protected area. In 1987, the park was designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. To safeguard Chacoan sites on adjacent Bureau of Land Management and Navajo Nation lands, the Park Service developed the multi-agency Chaco Culture Archaeological Protection Site program. These initiatives have identified more than 2,400 archeological sites within the current park's boundaries only a small percentage of these have been excavated. [48] [49]


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