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Diné The Navajo

Southwest Archaeology

Navajo

This section is drawn largely from the BLM Farmington Field Office's Proposed Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement EIS. We will rewrite this section as we get an opportunity.

Navajo cultural sites in the planning area constitute a high percentage of the historic period. Approximately 30 percent of all recorded cultural site components in the planning area are Navajo affiliated. These sites encompass a full range of types and include but are not limited to scatters of artifacts, game drives, small and large habitations, trails, and rock art. The culture and history of the Navajo people is also intertwined with a varied and diverse landscape that recognizes places that have pan-tribal as well as local significance. While there is some debate on the chronology of the early Navajo and their entry into the American Southwest, the archaeological evidence indicates that they were here by at least the mid-16th century. Navajo traditional histories place them in northwest New Mexico even earlier. By about 1710, most Navajos were probably located west of Abiquiu and the Chama River, having been driven out by conflicts with Spanish, Ute, and Comanche combatants.

Navajo chronology is generally expressed in a series of phases that include the Dinétah (1540 to mid- 1600s), Gobernador (mid-1600s to 1770), Cabezon (1770 to 1863), and Reservation phases (1863 to present). The date ranges presented here are general, and various scholars may present slightly different schemes. All of these phases are manifested in the RMP planning area to varying degrees. Some areas have been extensively investigated and the distribution of Navajo sites of varying ages and types is well documented. Other areas have received only sporadic investigations and the distribution and character of Navajo sites is less well defined. Almost half of all known Navajo sites, or 10.5 percent of all components known in the planning area, cannot be assigned to any of these three general phases and are identified simply as “Unknown Navajo.”

 

Dinétah/Gobernador Phases (ca. A.D. 1500 to 1753)

 

Early Navajo occupation of northwest New Mexico is documented from at least the Abiquiu/Chama River area extending west to concentrations at the eastern ends of San Juan County and the western ends of Rio Arriba County, in what is known as Dinétah (“Among the People”). Early Navajo sites are also know from the southern reaches of the San Juan Basin and in the Rio Puerco drainage, most notably at Big Bead Mesa and Chacra Mesa. Although a growing body of evidence indicates that Dinétah and Gobernador phase sites were more widely distributed across the San Juan Basin and the Colorado Plateau in general than previously believed only a few years ago, the greatest occurrence remains the Dinétah area, and elsewhere the numbers are far lower.

Approximately 26 percent of all Navajo site components in the study area are dated to this time period, and the vast majority is located in the Largo and Gobernador Canyons and their drainages. Regardless of where early Navajo sites may be found on the Colorado Plateau, Dinétah is the type locality for comparative purposes with other early Navajo sites. The Navajo of the period represent an evolving tradition originating out of a hunting and gathering existence to one that enhanced those traditions with the agricultural practices and some of the ceremonial practices of the Pueblo world, and the pastoral economies introduced by the Spanish. Some key

 

CHAPTER 3—AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT Farmington Proposed RMP/Final EIS 3-78

characteristics of the Navajo of the period include conical forked-pole hogans, defensive masonry pueblitos, elaborate ceremonially based rock art, plain gray and polychrome ceramics, low percentages of trade ceramics from nearly all pueblo areas, distinctive stone tool styles, agriculture, and pastoral economies.

Many of the sites, particularly in the 18th century, are located in defensive locations. Sometime around A.D. 1760 to 1770, the Dinétah Navajo had moved or was in the final stages of moving into other areas of the Colorado Plateau and Dinétah was effectively depopulated. Archaeological data shows little evidence for site occupation or construction after this time. Concurrent with this movement away from Dinétah, the Navajo appear to have experienced a revitalistic movement that prescribed the discarding of certain puebloan traits such as painted pottery, masonry houses, and permanent ceremonially oriented rock art. Dinétah/Gobernador components comprise about 7.5 percent of the total components known in the planning area. On FFO and AFO lands in the planning area, there are 55 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. These include:

1. Jones Canyon (Dinétah and Gobernador phases) (AFO)

2. Cañon Jarido (Dinétah and Gobernador phases) (AFO)

3. Superior Mesa Community (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

4. Bi Yaazh (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

5. Gould Pass Camp (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

6. Four Ye’i (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

7. Largo Canyon Star Ceiling (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

8. Star Spring (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

9. Blanco Star Panel (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

10. Shield Bearer (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

11. Big Star (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

12. Rabbit Tracks (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

13. Delgadita/Pueblo Canyons (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

14. Cibola Canyon (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

15. Encierro Canyon (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

16. NM 01-39236 (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

17. Martinez Canyon (Dinétah and Gobernador phases)

18. Shephard Site (Gobernador phase)

19. Crow Canyon District (Gobernador phase)

20. Hooded Fireplace and Largo School District (Gobernador phase)

21. Tapacito and Split Rock District (Gobernador phase)

22. Frances Ruin (Gobernador phase)

23. Christmas Tree Ruin (Gobernador phase)

24. Simon Ruin (Gobernador phase)

25. San Rafael Canyon (Gobernador phase)

26. Romine Canyon Ruin (Gobernador phase)

27. Prieta Mesa Site (Gobernador phase)

28. Delgadito Pueblito (Gobernador phase)

29. Cagel’s Site (Gobernador phase)

30. Adams Canyon Site (Gobernador phase)

31. Casa Mesa Diablo (Gobernador phase)

32. Rincon Rockshelter (Gobernador phase)

33. Hill Road Ruin (Gobernador phase)

34. Gomez Canyon Ruin (Gobernador phase)

35. Adolfo Canyon Site (Gobernador phase)

36. Unreachable Rockshelter (Gobernador phase)

37. Compressor Station Ruin (Gobernador phase)

38. Foothold and Overlook Ruins District (Gobernador phase)

39. Pointed Butte Ruin (Gobernador phase)

40. Rincon Largo District (Gobernador phase)

41. Kin Yazhi (Little House) (Gobernador phase)

42. Canyon View Ruin (Gobernador phase)

43. NM 01-39344 (Gobernador phase)

44. Deer House (Gobernador phase)

45. Kachina Mask (Gobernador phase)

46. Hummingbird (Gobernador phase)

47. Blanco Mesa (Gobernador phase)

48. Ye’is-in-Row (Gobernador phase)

49. Kiva (Gobernador phase)

50. Pretty Woman (Gobernador phase)

51. Gomez Point (Gobernador phase)

52. Santos Peak (Gobernador phase)

53. Salt Point (TCP)

54. Huerfano Mesa (TCP)

55. Cho’li’i (Gobernador Knob) (TCP)

Farmington Proposed RMP/Final EIS CHAPTER 3—AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT3-79

 

Other examples may be found that merit special designations. Still other examples of resources from this period are managed according to continuing management guidelines.

 

Cabezon Phase (ca. A.D. 1753 to 1868)

Cabezon phase Navajo sites are less well documented but nonetheless are present in the planning area. They are rarely reported, even by large-scale multi-thousand acre surveys. Problems with recognition and site dating during field surveys may account for some of the rarity of Cabezon phase sites. Cabezon Phase components make up about 1 percent of the total Navajo site record in the planning area. This is in stark contrast to the density and numbers of site from the preceding period. This period can be viewed as one during which the widely dispersed Navajo population may have begun coalescing into the areas encompassed by the modern day limits of the reservation. Cabezon phase sites are characterized by a continuation of many of the economies present in the earlier phases, with perhaps a decline in agriculture and increasing reliance in pastoral pursuits. As previously noted, many of the obvious puebloan traits seem to have disappeared or receded in importance. Fortified defensive sites still occur but on a much smaller scale. Circular masonry hogans and cribbed-log hogans occur along side the earlier forked-pole hogan and may begin to gain predominance during this phase. Antelope game traps are first identified during this phase. Artifactually, there are sporadic occurrences of polychrome ceramics and the plain gray styles continue with some minor but notable technological distinctions that distinguish it from the earlier types. Near the end of the phase, glass and metal artifacts begin to occur more often but in limited numbers.

Cabezon components comprise less than one-half of one percent of the total components known in the planning area.

On FFO lands, there are 3 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period.

CHAPTER 3—AFFECTED ENVIRONMENT Farmington Proposed RMP/Final EIS 3-80

These include:

1. Salt Point (TCP)

2. Huerfano Mesa (TCP)

3. Cho’li’i (Gobernador Knob) (TCP)

Other examples may be found that merit special designations. Still other examples of resources from this period are managed according to continuing management guidelines.

 

Reservation Phase (ca. 1868 to Present)

Reservation phase sites span the time from the Kit Carson campaign (A.D. 1863 to 1864) and subsequent internment at Bosque Redondo (A.D. 1863 to 1868), to the present time. These sites account for nearly 37 percent of the total Navajo sites in the study area, with most of those dating to the 20th century. Post-Bosque Redondo 19th century sites amount to only about 1 percent or less of total Navajo sites. This time period witnesses a near complete replacement of forked-pole hogans by circular forms, and in later years the adoption of housing styles from the dominant non-Native culture. Pastoral economies continue to gain preeminence with livestock herds in the thousands not uncommon. As the population grew and natural limits to pastoral economies were encountered, wage labor made significant inroads into the local economies and became increasingly important in supplementing the traditional economies.

On public lands, small and large habitations sites often represent sites of this period. The occasional abandoned hogan or “home site” areas are found, often completely salvaged of useable materials. Other sites include those associated with pastoral activities such as corrals and camps. The occurrence of these sites is particularly noticeable within the Eastern Navajo Agency where land patterns follow a checkerboard pattern and the use of public lands is historically common. In areas where public lands are less fragmented, reservation era sites are much less frequent. Reservation phase components comprise about 11 percent of the total components known in the planning area.

On FFO lands, there are 3 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. These include:

1. Salt Point (TCP)

2. Huerfano Mesa (TCP)

3. Cho’li’i (formally Gobernador Knob) (TCP)

Other examples may be found that merit special designations. Still other examples of resources from this period are managed according to continuing management guidelines

 

 

 

 

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