SW Cultural History

Notes from the BLM Farmington Field Office's Proposed Resource Management Plan (PRMP) and Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS)
Chapter 3, Affected Environment

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see also the Final Management Plan

An area so vast as the planning area encompasses evidence of many developments throughout the prehistoric and historic periods. Perhaps best known are the remains associated with the Chaco culture, centered in Chaco Canyon. The general cultural history presented below has been abstracted from Amsden (1993), Anschuetz (1993), Bradley and Brown (1998), Marshall (1997), Riley (1996), Seymour (1996), Stuart and Gauthier (1981), Winter et al. (1993), and Vivian (1990).

Although there are many commonalities in the sequence of development across the region as a whole, there are, at the same time, subtle differences that have caused archaeologists to distinguish four different culture areas typical of the planning area. These include the Navajo Reservoir, San Juan Basin (including Chaco), Jemez/Middle Rio Grande, and Gallinas cultures.

Region-specific phase sequences are presented in Table 3-17. In general, the prehistory of the planning area is divided into five major periods. The earliest evidence of human occupations in the region is termed PaleoIndian. This is followed by the Archaic period during which the beginnings of agriculture emerge in the archaeological record. Subsequent developments are designated as the Formative, or Developmental, period when agriculture and large towns began to appear across the Colorado Plateau. This, in turn, is followed by the historic period, which includes developments by both American Indians as well as later Euro-American settlers. Each of these phases is discussed in more detail below.

Table 3-17 Regional Phase Sequences

PaleoIndian (ca. 10000 B.C. to 5500 B.C.)

The archetypal view of the PaleoIndian period is that it was characterized by relatively small bands of hunters relying on large, now extinct, Pleistocene megafauna. There is controversy concerning when these peoples first arrived in North America, with progressively earlier dates from sites of this period appearing almost every year. The earliest evidence in New Mexico conforms to the date range indicated above, although earlier sites will likely be found. Consistent with a seemingly primary focus on large game animals such as mammoth and bison, many of which were migratory. PaleoIndian sites are ephemeral, reflecting periodic movement of camps to areas where animals might be found. At the same time, there is some evidence of reliance on plant resources.

The highest concentrations of PaleoIndian sites have been found in two settings. The first setting is along the margins of playas, small ephemeral lakes that hold water for short periods during the rainy season (Judge 1973). The second setting is along ridge lines paralleling large drainages where, again, water might be available (Vivian 1990). Sites are known from the Puerco Basin, the Chuska valley along the Arizona-New Mexico border, and the Chaco Plateau (Vivian 1990). Most consist of isolated projectile points, again consistent with what seems to be a highly mobile life way.

PaleoIndian sites consist of chipped and ground stone tools, including large bifacial projectile points. These points were attached to wooden shafts to form spears or large darts, thrown with an atlatl, or spear thrower. Variations in the ways these points were manufactured, specifically reliance on fluting and lateral thinning, have allowed archaeologists to separate the PaleoIndian period into three time-sequent complexes. Nonfluted Clovis points typify the earliest complex. Later, fluted points signal the appearance of the Folsom complex. Finally, points typified by extreme lateral thinning are indicative of the Plano complex. Rarely are bone and wooden tools preserved.

Paleoenvironmental reconstructions using plant pollen suggest that drought conditions prevailed over much of the San Juan Basin between 8000 and 6500 B.C. Consistent with this reconstruction, evidence of Plano complex occupations is generally lacking for the region as a whole.

PaleoIndian components account for less than one-quarter of 1 percent of the components in the planning area. Despite numerous archaeological surveys and excavations in the planning area, the scarcity of diagnostic artifacts and assemblages currently documented point to a very limited use of the San Juan Basin during the PaleoIndian period. On FFO lands, there are no ACECs (Area of Critical Environmental Concern) or SMAs that are actively managed to protect


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

Archaic Period (ca. 5500 B.C. to A.D. 400)

The Archaic period is signaled by the extinction of earlier Pleistocene fauna, due to the combined effects of the drought noted earlier as well as hunting by PaleoIndian peoples. Although hunting continued to be important throughout the Archaic period, there was greater reliance on gathering of wild plant resources. Consonant with this subsistence shift is the appearance of new classes of artifacts, notably ground stone implements that were used to process plant foods for consumption. Projectile points decrease in size consistent with hunting of smaller animals.

As in the PaleoIndian period, Archaic hunting-and-gathering groups seem to have remained small in size, probably consisting of no more than a few co-residential, extended families. Archaic sites are more visible than PaleoIndian sites, but, with some exceptions, remain relatively ephemeral. This is again consistent with high mobility when groups move to take advantage of geographic and seasonal variations in the availability of plant and animal resources.

Archaic sites are found throughout the San Juan Basin. Most are found north and east of the Chaco River. Sites tend to alternate between semi-permanent (winter) base camps that were repeatedly occupied from year to year and more ephemeral (summer) sites related to the completion of specific seasonal hunting or gathering activities. Sites are found in canyon heads and cliff tops. Based on ethnographic analogies, the size of territories exploited by Archaic groups was inversely proportional to environmental diversity: where diversity was higher, territories probably were smaller and the converse.

General trends in the number of Archaic sites across the planning area are interpreted as reflecting gradual, sustained population growth throughout the Archaic period. Specifically, beginning with relatively few early Archaic Jay phase (ca. 5500 to 4800 B.C.) sites, there is a progressive increase in the number of later Bajada (ca. 4800 to 3200 B.C.), San Jose (ca. 3000 to 1800 B.C.), Armijo (ca. 1800 to 800 B.C.) and En Medio (800 B.C. to A.D. 400) phase sites over the planning area. As well, sites are larger by the San Jose phase and are accompanied by the first evidence of structures, probably constructed of poles and brush. The number and size of sites increases steadily in succeeding phases, all of which is consistent with the aggregation of larger groups of people, population growth, and repeated occupations of larger base camps.

The earliest evidence of domesticated crops, notably maize, appears in the Armijo phase. This presages the much greater reliance on domesticated crops that characterizes the later prehistory of the planning area. At the same time, reliance on domesticates implies the need to maintain fields, as well as store any surpluses that might be generated. Not surprisingly, the appearance of maize in the archaeological record is accompanied by the almost simultaneous appearance of more permanent structures and storage facilities. At the same time, there is some suggestion that maize did not appear in all parts of the San Juan Basin at the same time. Specifically, maize seems to appear earlier in the eastern part of the basin, but is largely absent in western parts of the basin. However, this may reflect an absence of surveys in the western region rather than any fundamental underlying variability in subsistence patterns across the planning area. Archaic components account for less than 4 percent of the total components in the planning area. Numerous lithic scatters in the planning area lack diagnostic artifacts and assemblages indicating the cultural and temporal association of the sites. These sites comprise approximately 1 percent of the sites in the planning area. Many of these are site


components potentially dating to the Archaic period. While comprising a small percentage of the sites in the planning area, they remain an important class of sites for research involving the hunter-gatherer occupation in the region, and the transition to agricultural lifeways.

On FFO and AFO lands, there are 2 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. These include:

1. Jones Canyon ACEC (AFO)

2. East Side Rincon Site SMA (FFO)

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

Basketmaker II (ca. A.D. 1 to 500)

The Basketmaker II (BM II) Phase represents the first successful agricultural populations developing sedentary settlements in the region. Dating from approximately A.D. 1 to A.D. 500, Basketmaker sites are found in southern Utah, southwestern Colorado, and eastern Arizona, as well as much of New Mexico. Due to the limited amount of research devoted to these sites, the relationship between late Archaic En Medio Phase occupations and the BM II occupation is still poorly understood. The introduction of viable agricultural strains, in particular corn (Zea mays), as well as squash and beans is thought to have contributed to the adoption of sedentary habitations, generally aligned with perennial drainages in the Four Corners area. Shallow pit structures and extensive use of storage features mark the adoption of agriculture as a key feature of the occupation. Population aggregation is indicated by settlements with multiple structures. Upland settlements are also found which may represent seasonal use for farming plots as well as exploitation of faunal resources. The first use of ceramic artifacts also occur during the latter part of the period, with simple vessels constructed of alluvial clays similar to those manufactured by Mogollon populations far south of the planning area.

The BM II occupation in the planning area is known from the Chaco Canyon Area and the Chaco River drainage, as well as more extensive occupations in the Navajo Reservoir area. The BM II occupation in the Navajo Reservoir area was designated the Los Pinos phase following extensive inventory and excavation for the Navajo Reservoir project. (Eddy 1966). Los Pinos phase sites cluster along the Pine and Animas rivers, with more intensive occupations to the north in Colorado.

BM II components comprise less than 1 percent of the total known components in the planning area, however are of particular interest to researchers not only due to their rarity, but because of their importance in understanding early transitions to agriculture and the adoption of sedentary settlement patterns. The first signs of population aggregation in the region are marked by the BM II period, with continuing population growth trends for the next 600 years.

On FFO lands, there are no ACECs or SMAs that actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. Other examples may be found that merit special designations. Still other examples of resources from this period are managed according to continuing management guidelines.

Basketmaker III (ca. A.D. 500 to 700)

Basketmaker III (BM III) occupations in the San Juan Basin are characterized by widespread adoption of domesticated crops accompanied by the appearance of pithouses, the advent of ceramic manufacturing, and the introduction of bow-and-arrow technology. Notable among the crops recovered from sites dating to this period are maize, squash, and beans. The adoption of agriculture, even in a nascent form, was probably facilitated by a return to increases in effective moisture over much of the Colorado Plateau during this period. Yet, indirect evidence of droughts during this period suggests that this was not a stable climatic regime. As a consequence, BM III groups continued to rely on wild plant


and animal resources, with agricultural products largely used to supplement wild resources. Classic interpretations of BM III suggest that population growth continued at relatively high rates. Current notions suggest the cumulative effect was that BM III groups began to become more densely packed into the landscape. The presence of neighboring groups, who also depended on the same resources, would have constrained the ability of any one group to complete seasonal movements to obtain wild plant and animal resources. It is such constraints on movement, in conjunction with improved climatic conditions, which are thought to have contributed to the more widespread adoption of cultivated crops during this period. Similarly, by late BM III times, a major population shift from the La Plata region into the central portion of the San Juan Basin had occurred, perhaps in response to improved agricultural conditions.

BM III sites are known from the Navajo Reservoir region, Animas-La Plata watersheds, Red Rock Valley, Middle Chuska Valley, Chaco Canyon region, and southward into the Rio Puerco Valley. Relative to earlier periods, BM III sites are far more visible due to longer occupations. The shift to domesticated crops is reflected by changes in settlement patterns during BM III times. Compared to earlier times, BM III sites are disproportionately oriented toward areas containing arable land. Agriculture in higher elevations would have been constrained by frost-free periods, while those in lower elevations would have been constrained by rainfall and surface water availability. It should be emphasized that agriculture during this period relied exclusively on direct rainfall; technologies such as irrigation to supplement water supplies have not been found.

At the same time, there is evidence that BM III was not the same across all parts of the San Juan Basin. While the classic description of BM III emphasizes reliance on agriculture, there is some indication that early BM III groups in the southwestern and western portions of the basin continued to practice hunting-and-gathering to a much greater extent than agriculture. In contrast, there is evidence of greater agriculture in the Navajo Reservoir (Sambrito phase), accompanied by substantially higher populations. BM III components comprise approximately 2 percent of the total components in the planning area, and exhibit greater size and complexity than the sites of the preceding BM II period. BM III settlements are found in the Navajo Reservoir area, the Chuska Slope and Chaco Canyon area within the Chaco Canyon drainage, and in the La Plata, Animas, Upper San Juan, Largo, Carrizo and Gobernador drainage basins.

On FFO lands, there are 8 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. These include:

1 . East Side Rincon Site

2 . Morris 41

3 . Pregnant Basketmaker

4 . Carrizo Cranes

5 . Encierro Canyon

6 . NM 01-39236

7 . Martinez Canyon

8 . Crow Canyon District


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


Pueblo I (ca. A.D. 700 to 900)

The Pueblo I (PI) period on the Colorado Plateau generally is typified by an increase in the number of sites, an increase in average site size, the appearance of above-ground jacal and stone architecture alongside semi-subterranean pithouse structures, and larger storage facilities. Above-ground structures typically exhibit linear or oval configurations and contain about 8 rooms per site. So-called “proto-kivas” first make their appearance at some PI sites in the planning area. With the exception of the Chaco region, these trends are not thought to reflect


population growth, but rather consolidation of previously distinct residential groups into larger villages.

In the San Juan Basin, however, the overall number of PI sites is relatively low. This is attributed, in part, to deteriorating environmental conditions on the Colorado Plateau, specifically reduced rainfall and an increase in the overall variability of rainfall. Rainfall estimates appear relatively high between A.D. 700 to 750, but began a steady decline through the early A.D. 800s. Between A.D. 830 to 900, drought conditions are thought to have prevailed over much of the planning area.

The highest concentrations of PI sites are situated in the Mesa Verde region, in the Middle Chuska Valley, Chaco Canyon, Lower Chuska Valley, and the Navajo Reservoir region. The easternmost manifestation of PI, termed the Rosa phase, differs slightly from sites situated further west. Here, settlements tend to be distributed not only along drainages, but as well on outwash fans to maximize agricultural production. Over much of the northern San Juan Basin, sites tend to be situated on mesas, broad ridges, or floodplain terraces overlooking drainages.

As in BM III times, there is evidence for regional differentiation in subsistence patterns. In the southwestern portion of the San Juan Basin, sites assigned to the White Mound phases contain food remains indicating reliance on a mix of horticulture, hunting and gathering. In the northern San Juan Basin, Rosa-Piedra phase sites tend to contain relatively larger amounts of cultigens. In the center of the San Juan Basin, in Chaco Canyon, PI sites contain a similar mix of domesticated and wild resources, suggesting that drought conditions during this period caused subsistence strategies to remain diversified. To the east, reliance on domesticates appears to have been greater than in other parts of the basin.

PI components comprise over 6 percent of the total components in the planning area, with occupations clustering in the Navajo Reservoir area, the Largo, Carrizo, Upper San Juan and Gobernador watersheds, and on the Chuska Slope and Chaco Canyon areas within the Chaco River drainage basin. Recent research on PI communities in the Navajo Reservoir area have identified several large complex communities aggregated around Great Pit Houses, the early predecessor to the Great Kivas known from the later Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods. Population growth and aggregation during this period is a critical factor in the development of the later complex communities and social structures present in the Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods in the planning area.

On FFO lands, there are 8 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. These include:

1 . East Side Rincon Site

2 . Morris 41

3 . Pregnant Basketmaker

4 . Carrizo Cranes

5 . Encierro Canyon

6 . NM 01-39236

7 . Martinez Canyon

8 . Crow Canyon District

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


Pueblo II (ca. A.D. 900 to 1050)

The Pueblo II (PII) period is characterized by an increase in the number of sites, an increase in average site size, a shift toward above-ground coursed masonry architecture, the appearance of larger numbers and larger sizes of storage facilities, and the appearance of formal kivas. Sites typically contain between 6 and 9 rooms per site, most arranged in a linear fashion. Larger sites containing more numerous rooms are often laid out in a quadrilateral pattern around central plazas.



It is during PII times that the Chaco phenomenon truly flourishes, accompanied by the establishment of very large towns, the appearance of multistoried room blocks, increasingly complex architectural elaboration of kivas, the advent of field systems in an effort to boost agricultural production, and the development of road systems to facilitate trade and exchange.

These changes seem to signal a return to accelerating population growth in response to dramatically improved climatic conditions. Unlike the PI period, climatic reconstructions for A.D. 900 to 1050 indicate a return to higher rainfall levels, although this was accompanied by episodic droughts whose intensity varied from place to place. In areas less affected by droughts, settlements were pushed into areas that would have been marginal in PI times. It is suspected that differential spatial distributions of critical resources probably became more pronounced in PII times over much of the San Juan Basin.

In short, current theories suggest that much of the PII period is typified by imbalances between people and resources, both temporally and geographically. Such imbalances necessitated the introduction of various buffering mechanisms in an effort to offset these imbalances. Among the buffering mechanisms inferred from the archaeological record were improved storage facilities, expansion of regional exchange networks, and more frequent abandonment and reestablishment of large villages in areas better suited for agriculture. One consequence is that PII sites often were occupied for relatively short periods of time. Subsistence practices indicate greater reliance on cultivated plants, although evidence of use of wild resources persists at most PII sites. Maize, beans, and squash are quite common at both large and small sites. Evidence of agricultural intensification derives from the identification and dating of the first water control structures in the San Juan Basin. These structures were designed to augment rainfall, thereby increasing overall productivity of given plots of land. Many of these water control devices seem to provide water to outwash fans, areas that are often marginal for direct rainfall agriculture.

Earlier dissimilarities between sites in the southern San Juan Basin and those in the northern basin largely disappear during PII times. The emergence of region-wide (relative) homogeneity in ceramics, architecture, subsistence practices, and settlement patterns has been interpreted as evidence supporting the inference that region-wide trade and exchange systems emerge in full force during PII times. One notable exception to this homogeneity is found in the Chaco Canyon region, where settlement in the Chaco heartland is typified by numerous small habitation sites distributed around fewer, but very much larger and more complex towns (central places) containing kivas, great kivas, reservoirs, dams, and roads. Sourcing studies suggest that non-local materials were being imported from far-flung parts of the Southwest.

These facts, combined with the panregional distribution of ceramics that are virtually identical, suggests that Chaco Canyon may have been the primary focal point for trade and exchange networks whose limits extended into northeastern Arizona, southern Colorado, and west-central New Mexico. Analyses of ceramics and chipped stone indicate that source areas for such critical resources gradually shifted over time from the southeastern part of the area (Zuni) to the western (Chuska) region and, finally, to the northern portion of the San Juan Basin. It is likely that these regions approximate the outer limits of this exchange and trading network. There is some evidence suggesting that turkeys and perhaps corn were among the crucial subsistence resources being imported into the Chaco region. If such inferences are accurate, reliance on imported foodstuffs underscores the tenuous agricultural conditions that prevailed across the central San Juan Basin during PII times.

Chaco Canyon, and the outlying sites related to it, are unique in Southwestern prehistory. One indication of the importance of



Chaco is its designation in 1987 as a World Heritage locality (UNESCO 1987).

The Chaco phenomenon is defined on the basis of multiple attributes. There are two alternating site types great houses and villages viewed by many as indicative of economic and political differences inherent in the Chaco system. Multistoried great houses, usually consisting of upwards of 200 rooms, typically were constructed as a series of temporally discrete units (Kantner and Mahoney 2000, Saitta 1997). In contrast, surrounding villages usually consist of single story structures ranging from 20-40 rooms in extent. Obvious differences in site construction characteristics are underscored by the recovery of exotic goods in great house sites and the virtual absence of such goods in villages. Among these goods are copper bells, turquoise, shell jewelry, and macaws from Central America (Mathien and McGuire 1986, Toll 2001). Finally, great houses appear to be nodes for upwards of 70 constructed roads or road segments, often interpreted as remnants of transportation/communication routes (Renfrew 2001; Vivian 1997a, b).

Because the “Chaco phenomenon” is one of the most well-documented archaeological manifestations in the Southwest, it is no surprise that it provides a basis for widespread discussion of the factors that contributed to its appearance, operation, and eventual collapse. The phenomenon of “Chaco” has been viewed by different scholars as either (1) largely a local geographic phenomena that appears in response to generally favorable climatic conditions and is typified by redistributive activities or (2) as one component of a much larger Mexican-Southwestern interaction network founded largely on ideational factors. The characteristics of inferences necessarily vary considerably between these perspectives.


Chaco as a Regional System


Those who view Chaco as a somewhat localized Southwestern phenomena underlain by redistributive activities assume that Chaco exhibits attenuated links to other regions (e.g., Mexico). Researchers of this perspective generally focus on the occurrence of two alternating site types, great houses and villages, as well as the presence of exotic goods and constructed roads as consistent with strategies to control access to and redistribution of goods—both subsistence resources and trade items—across the San Juan Basin (Renfrew 2001).

Those advocating the presence of religicopolitical elites cite the presence of large proportions of non-residential rooms at great house sites as evidence for storage of surplus foodstuffs, which were then redistributed by elites residing in great house communities. There are differences of opinion on this theme primarily with respect to inferred degrees of political centralization, ranging from egalitarian (Vivian 1990) or ranked (Grebinger 1973) to chiefdoms (Earle 2001, Lekson 1999, Saitta 1997). Others, however, find insufficient evidence to conclude that hierarchical elites were present (Feinman et al. 2000, Saitta 1997, Sebastian 1992, Vivian 1997b, Windes and Ford 1996).

The presence of upwards of 70 constructed road segments, possibly built through some form of non-coerced or coerced communal labor (Saitta 1997), is viewed by some as reinforcing the notion of politico-religious authorities coordinating road construction to facilitate transport and communication across the San Juan Basin (Cameron and Toll 2001, Nelson 1995, Vivian 1997b). Among the activities inferred for Chacoan roads are transport of beams into great house communities for use in roof construction (Snygg and Windes 1998), as access routes for pilgrims to ceremonies and periodic markets centered in great house communities (Judge 1989, Malville and Malville 2001, Renfrew 2001, Roney 1992, Vivian 1997b), as routes for the movement of turquoise, much of which seems to have been used within Chacoan communities (Mathien 2001), or as routes for military activities undertaken to forcibly integrate outlying communities into the Chaco system (Wilcox 1994). Others, however, have concluded that


these roads were too wide to have been designed simply as transportation routes, regardless of what might or might not have been transported (Roney 1992, Kantner 1997, Vivian 1997b).

Similarly, while exotic items of Mexican origin (e.g., copper bells, macaws) are known from Chacoan sites, those subscribing to the notion that Chaco was a regional network note that the overall quantity of such remains is too small to reflect widespread trade or exchange with Mexico (Renfrew 2001). At the same time, some have suggested that the value, not quantity, of exotic items from Mexico may be a far more important factor in evaluating the presence of such items at Chaco (Reyman 1995).

Finally, some see Chaco’s settlement system as based largely on cosmology (Stein and Lekson 1992). Specifically, the Chaco phenomenon is argued to have been predicated on shared ritual ideology linked to cosmological events (e.g., solstices, equinoxes) which, in turn, were manifested in the structured spatial arrangement of archaeological sites (e.g., kivas, shrines, rock art, water control features, and roads) across Chacoan landscapes (see also Sofaer 1997).


Chaco as a Pan-Regional System


Most recently, Lekson has proposed that Chaco may be part of a much larger Mexican- Southwest settlement system. Lekson (1999) focuses on the supposed alignment of structures found at the New Mexico sites of Aztec Ruins and Chaco Canyon, along with the site of Paquimé in northern Mexico, on a north-south axis running from nearly Colorado into northern Chihuahua. These complexes are suggested to be time-sequent residences of religico-political elites that moved in response to a succession of deteriorated environmental intervals. Specifically, he proposes that a politico-religious elite, originally resident in Chaco Canyon, moved successively to Aztec (ca. A.D. 1125) and then Paquimé (A.D. 1275).

What is perhaps most controversial about Lekson’s argument is the notion that the arrangement of these three sites along a given meridian represents a deliberate effort to construct sites according to some preconceived plan by a multi-generational elite that spanned more than 200 years and 630 kilometers.

Not surprisingly, there are objections to Lekson’s view of Chaco. For example, Phillips (2000) demurs about this model, observing that the alignment of these three sites along a given meridian may be more apparent than real and, moreover, that the presumptive similarity of architecture across these three sites is without foundation. Further, Phillips notes that, in particular, ceramic assemblages from Paquimé are quite dissimilar from Chacoan ceramics in general, suggesting that a time- and spacetransgressive elite is not responsible for constructing these three sites.



This very brief overview of varying perspectives swirling around the “Chaco phenomenon” simply underscores a number of points. First, there is an on-going debate about appropriate geographic scales of analysis, particularly with respect to settlement analyses. Second, as this discussion makes clear, there are debates regarding the nature of evidence from Chacoan sites and the inferences based on such evidence. Finally, while the San Juan Basin has perhaps the largest suite of dated sites in the Southwest, attempts to identify stimuli (environmental fluctuations) and possible responses (centralization, redistribution, migration) still rely on accurate chronologies. Only as issues of this sort are addressed will the Chaco phenomenon be more completely understood. Consequently, Chaco will remain one of the most important venues in the American Southwest for examining these issues.

PII components account for approximately 7 percent of the total known components in the planning area. However, dual PII-PIII components are quite common across the planning area, adding another 8 percent of the components that date to this broad time interval. During this period the Navajo



Reservoir, Largo, Carrizo, Upper San Juan and Blanco watersheds are virtually abandoned, with populations shifting to the north, south and west. Population aggregation and community development is enhanced in these areas during the PII period. Large and complex communities are linked by formalized road networks within the San Juan Basin, with Chacoan Great Houses and communities tied to the central hub in Chaco Canyon.

On FFO and AFO lands in the planning area, there are 21 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period.

These include:

1. Jones Canyon (AFO)

2. Headcut Prehistoric Community (AFO)

3. Cañon Jarido (AFO)

4. Morris 41

5. Kin Nizhoni

6. Pierre’s Site

7. Halfway House

8. Twin Angels

9. Jacques Site

10. Holmes Group

11. Casamero Community

12. Toh-la-kai

13. Indian Creek

14. Upper Kin Klizhin

15. Bis sa’ani

16. Andrews Ranch

17. Church Rock Outlier

18. North Road

19. Ah-shi-sle-pah Road

20. Crownpoint Steps and Herradura

21. Bee Burrow


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

Pueblo III (ca. A.D. 1050 to 1300)

The Pueblo III (PIII) period is typified by the aggregation of populations into progressively larger centers, accompanied by the gradual collapse of the Chaco phenomenon that so defines early and middle PII times. Some researchers suggest that populations began to move northward into the northern San Juan Basin near Aztec, as well as southward out of the Mesa Verde region. Concurrent with Chaco’s gradual decline in importance is a seeming realignment of social interaction spheres northward toward Mesa Verde. For example, sites along the Chuska Mountains seem to evidence a period of increased building events, accompanied by the replacement of Chacoan ceramics with those more typical of Mesa Verde. As well, the appearance of bi- and tri-wall buildings, nominally characteristic of the Mesa Verde region at sites in the San Juan Basin, suggests the gradual outward expansion of Mesa Verde peoples into areas formerly containing Chaco components. Over much of this period, sites contain between 13 and 30 rooms, with larger sites exhibiting upwards of 200 rooms.

These changes are attributed to the onset of a period of dramatically decreased rainfall after ca. A.D. 1220, accompanied by increased spatial variability in rainfall across the basin as a whole. Areas adversely affected by reduced rainfall, the central and southern San Juan Basin, seem to act as donor areas for population out-migration, while areas less subject to reduced rainfall, like the Mesa Verde and McElmo regions, become recipient areas for immigrants. Many parts of the Basin appear to have been abandoned toward the terminal portion of the PIII period.

Approximately 6 percent of total known components in the planning area date to PIII times, yet they are some of the largest and most complex Puebloan settlements in the region. Further, as noted in the PII discussion, dual PII



PIII components are quite common across the planning area, adding another 8 percent to the total known components dating to this somewhat broad interval. PIII components are virtually absent from the Navajo Reservoir area, while the Upper Largo and Rio Chama drainages exhibit large clusters of Gallina phase settlements. Concentrations of sites and large communities are found on the Chuska Slope and the Chaco River watershed, the Upper Puerco, Rio Chama, San Jose and Rio Puerco drainages, and the Lower San Juan and its tributary drainages, including the Animas, La Plata, and Mancos.

On FFO and AFO lands in the planning area, there are 23 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period.

These are:

1. Jones Canyon (AFO)

2. Headcut Prehistoric Community (AFO)

3. Cañon Jarido (AFO)

4. Morris 41

5. Kin Nizhoni

6. Pierre’s Site

7. Halfway House

8. Twin Angels

9. Jacques Site

10. Holmes Group

11. Casamero Community

12. Toh-la-kai

13. Indian Creek

14. Upper Kin Klizhin

15. Bis sa’ani

16. Andrews Ranch

17. Church Rock Outlier

18. North Road

19. Ah-shi-sle-pah Road

20. Crownpoint Steps and Herradura

21. Bee Burrow

22. Farmer’s Arroyo Site

23. Chacra Mesa Complex


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

Pueblo IV (ca. A.D. 1300 to 1540)


Further movements of peoples into riverine valleys where relatively more reliable surface water supplies are found characterize the Pueblo IV (PIV) period. This marks an end to higher elevation agricultural endeavors dependent on rainfall and, perhaps, the explicit recognition that agriculture, if it was to be successful, had to rely on surface water. Sites dating to this period are generally small, containing between 1 and 4 rooms. A small subset of sites contains 100 rooms, while an even smaller subset of the largest sites contains upwards of 500 rooms.

Major settlements dating to this period are situated primarily in the Rio Grande, Rio San Jose, and Zuni River watersheds. As well, during this period, the first evidence of direct diversion irrigation systems appears among the pueblos along the Rio Grande.

Material culture also became more elaborate. For example, PIV coincides with the introduction of glaze-decorated ceramics and the use of red and yellow slips. Other examples of PIV material culture include mural paintings, petroglyphs, stone effigies, decorated pipes, and carved bone tools. The descendents of some of these groups are the contemporary Puebloan villagers.

The PIV occupation of the planning area is primarily limited to the Rio Chama watershed, where concentrations of PIV components comprise less than 1 percent of the total number of components.

On BLM lands in the planning area, there are no ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. Other



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

Historic Period (ca. A.D. 1540 to Present)

Before considering historic Navajo occupations of the planning area, it should be mentioned that small numbers of Southern Ute and Jicarilla Apache components are found in the northern reaches of the planning area. These components are probably related to activities following the establishment of the Southern Ute Reservation (1868-1877) and the Jicarilla Apache Reservation (1887). Because these components are so infrequent, they are not discussed in any detail here.



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



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)



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.


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.


Euro-Anglo Period


There is obvious overlap between events that occurred during the preceding Navajo historic periods and events more closely associated with Euro-Anglo occupations of the planning area. While reference is made to related Navajo events, the primary focus of this section is on events related to post-contact (A.D. 1540) Euro-Anglo activities. This general period, in turn, is segmented into Spanish, Mexican, and Anglo (A.D. 1848-present) periods.


Spanish Colonial Period (A.D. 1540- 1821)


The earliest evidence of Spanish entry (entrada) into New Mexico is associated with the appearance of Coronado’s expedition in 1540 (Winship 1990). Initial contacts with the inhabitants were not promising insofar as the Spaniards, prompted by Marcos’ reports of great wealth, viewed the region’s inhabitants as potential sources of wealth or information about where such wealth could be found (Winship 1990). Greeted by showers of arrows at some pueblos, Coronado’s men soon found that reports of gold were overstated and that their likely reception in other villages would be equally confrontational (Winship 1990). In 1542, after smaller expeditions into the surrounding country revealed no great wealth, Coronado’s expedition withdrew to Mexico.


The Spanish did not return to the region until several decades had passed. In 1598, Oñate arrived with a large party of colonists, soldiers, and priests, to establish the village of San Gabriel, near the modern-day Pueblo of San Juan. This marked the first serious attempt to establish permanent settlements in the region. According to Salmerón (1966), Oñate found little of the wealth that had prompted Coronado’s expedition some 50 years earlier. In 1604, Oñate traversed portions on the planning area on his way to the Hopi Mesas and thence westward to California (Salmerón 1966). He returned by the same route, but did not establish any new Spanish settlements along the way. It is during Oñate’s travels that we find the first written reference to the presence Navajo Indians in what is today the Navajo heartland; they were referred to by Salmerón as “Apache Indians of Nabaju” (1966).

There is almost no documentary evidence regarding the planning area between Oñate’s arrival in 1598 and the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Seventeenth century Spanish settlements in the area were minimal and concentrated almost solely along the eastern margin of the planning area in or near the Rio Grande valley. During this period, small settlements such as San José de Guisewa (1620) pushed westward into the planning area, only to be abandoned shortly thereafter (Williams 1986).

It is reasonable to assume that Spanish settlement brought new technologies and ways of life to indigenous peoples. Among the most important introductions were the use of metal, the introduction of domestic animals and, to the detriment of the region’s inhabitants, Old World diseases. By 1650, sheep and goat husbandry appear as progressively more important components of Navajo subsistence. This inference is further supported by the archaeological recovery of European goods at seventeenth century Navajo sites, although it is unclear whether these goods were obtained by raiding or trading with Puebloan groups along the Rio Grande.

The Pueblo Revolt of 1680, as well as the 1694 rebellion that followed Vargas’ 1692 Reconquest of New Mexico, was accompanied by the relocation of the inhabitants of some Rio Grande pueblos. Including both Tanoan- and Keresan-speaking elements, this population dispersal probably accelerated the adoption of Puebloan cultural elements—notably masonry architecture and painted pottery—into Navajo culture during the eighteenth century. Vintage Spanish documents, supported by substantial archaeological evidence, suggest defensivelysited Navajo hogans and pueblitos, likely in response to raiding by both Utes and Comanches, as well as threats from the Spanish. In addition, there appears to have been some Navajo dislocations southward during the eighteenth century as a result of intensive raiding by the Utes.

Spanish activities during eighteenth century focused primarily on consolidating their holdings in the Rio Grande valley. Settlements in the heart of the planning area were almost non-existent. Exceptions to this generality include, for example, the settlement of Ranch de la Posta (1780). Yet, two activities—new land grants and new trading routes—emerge as important events affecting the planning area during this period.

As in the seventeenth century, new land grants were established in the eighteenth century, mostly along the eastern margin of the planning area (Williams 1986). These included Plaza Colorado (1739), Plaza Blanca (1739), Cañada de Cochiti (1740), Abiquiu (1754), Polvadera (1766), and Piedre Lumbre (1766). Some, such as Ponderosa (1768) were established and have remained occupied, while others such as La Ventana (ca. 1778) were soon abandoned due to raiding (Julyan 1996, Swadesh 1974).


It was also during the eighteenth century that the Old Spanish Trail was established (Crampton and Madsen 1994) (Map 3-10). The Old Spanish Trail is a collective assortment of pack routes that connected Santa Fe and Los Angeles. It was first traversed in its entirety in 1829 and experienced about 20 years of use by traders, slavers, trappers, and immigrants until being replaced by other trails. It undoubtedly followed older Native American trail routes in some areas and portions that had been used by earlier Spanish exploring and trading ventures. In the FFO, the Old Spanish Trail has not been physically identified, but segments of the trail followed Largo Canyon (Armijo route) and Carracas Canyon (Northern Route). On December 4, 2002, President Bush signed Public Law 107-325 designating the Old Spanish Trail as a National Historic Trail. Spanish Colonial components comprise less than one-half of 1 percent of the total components known in the planning area. On FFO lands, there is 1 SMA, Santos Peak, that is actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period.

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


Mexican Period (A.D. 1821-1848)

Mexico’s declaration of independence from Spain in 1821 was accompanied by the opening of the Santa Fe Trail. This inaugurated a period of progressively greater interaction between Euro-Anglos from America and New Mexico’s Native American and Hispanic residents.

Excluding events taking place in Navajo country, discussed earlier, this period is not particularly noteworthy with respect to Mexican activities in the planning area. There were additional Mexican land grants finalized during this period, including most notably the San Joaquín del Rio Chama (1806, Swadesh 1974), Tierra Amarilla grant (1832, Swadesh 1974), Baca Location #1 (1835), and the Lobato grant (Williams 1986). As well, small towns such as Gallina (1818) and Cabezon (1826) also appeared in the planning area.

Trading across the Old Spanish Trail, discussed above, intensified during the Mexican Period and included both Mexican and Anglo traders (Swadesh 1974). Many of the alternate routes along the trail, which shortened its distance, were identified and used by traders traveling to California. According to the Frenchman, Duflot de Mofras (BLM 2002a): Caravans traveled once a year from New Mexico to Los Angeles. These consist of 200 men on horseback, accompanied by mules laden with fabrics and large woolen covers called serapes, jerzas, and cobertones, which are valued at 3 to 5 piasters each. This merchandise is exchanged for horses and mules on a basis, usually of two blankets for one animal. Caravans leave Santa Fe, New Mexico, in October, before the snows set in, and finally reach the outlying ranchos of California from where the trail leads into El Pueblo de los Angeles. This trip consumes two and one-half months. Returning caravans leave California in April in order to cross the rivers before the snow melts, taking with them about 2,000 horses.

Thus, while trade expanded during the Mexican Period, settlements and associated populations remained largely restricted to the Rio Grande valley and its major tributaries. Aside from periodic trading expeditions, the planning area was instead typified by Navajo settlements.

Old Spanish Trail

Like their Spanish Colonial predecessors, Mexican period components are notably scarce across the planning area, comprising less than one-half of 1 percent of the total components known in the planning area.

On FFO and AFO lands in the planning area, there are no ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. Other examples may be found that merit special designations. Still other examples of resources from this period are managed according to continuing management guidelines.


Euro-Anglo Period (1848 to Present)

In 1846, Doniphan’s California Column entered New Mexico, ushering in a new era in the region’s history. With the subsequent defeat of the Mexican Army, New Mexico officially became a territory of the U.S. Conditions during the period between 1848 and the outbreak of the Civil War remained largely unchanged from those observed during the Mexican Period. Anglo or Hispanic settlements were very few in number and still concentrated mostly in the Rio Grande basin. At the same time, largely in response to raiding by Native Americans, there was an increasing presence of U.S. military forces. Indeed, this period is marked by the appearance of a succession of forts (Acrey 1994, Williams 1986). These included Ft. Defiance (1851), Ft. Wingate (1849, 1862, 1868), Ft. Lowell (1866) and an unnamed Army post west of Haynes Station (1870s). The chaos that seemed to characterize the newly-acquired territory grew even worse with the outbreak of the Civil War. Between 1861- 1862, Confederate forces seized a series of Union posts beginning in El Paso, TX, and extending northward up the Rio Grande toward Santa Fe. Only after the Confederates were defeated at the Battle of Glorieta Pass in the spring of 1862 did any semblance of order return to the territory. By 1865, the Santa Fe- Durango stage route extending from Santa Fe northwestward through San Ysidro, Cuba, Haynes Station, Truby Stop, and Largo to Aztec had been established in an effort to improve communications and travel in the planning area (Williams 1986). This stage line was to remain in operation until 1881. Perhaps the most notable event of the Civil War period was the attempt to remove all Navajo from their homelands. Termed “The Long Walk,” this saw the removal of upwards of 10,000 Navajo from the eastern part of their traditional homeland (Ackerly 1998, Bailey 1988). This effort proved largely a failure, due in no small measure to Carleton’s gross underestimate of the population of the Navajo Nation. By 1868, the reservation at Bosque Redondo (Ft. Sumner) was abandoned and the Navajo returned to their homeland. The initial impetus for Anglo settlement in the planning area can be traced to passage in 1862 of the Homestead Act. Intended to promote settlement of the American West, the Act provided 160 acres to claimants once they “proved up” their claim by living and working on it. In the planning area, however, homesteading was inhibited by deteriorating conditions between settlers and Navajos, as well as constraints imposed by the outbreak of the Civil War in 1862. Further, since land ownership was unclear, settlements remained tenuous until passage of the 1868 treaty that allowed the Navajo displaced by the Bosque Redondo experiment to return to their homelands.

Accordingly, Anglo and Hispanic (Lucero phase) settlements in the planning area did not emerge until the late 1870s. Among the earlier Hispanic settlements in the region are Blanco (1879), Cuba (1887) and Rosa (1888). Anglo settlements included Aztec (1879), Bloomfield (1879), Farmington (1879), Lumberton (1881), Dulce (1883), Cedar Hill (1887), San Luis (1890), Fruitland (1891), and Sheep Springs (1892). Others such as Fairpoint (1894-1898), Pendleton (1903-22), Liberty (1907-1920), Haynes (1908-1929), and Gobernador (1916- 1942) were established only to be abandoned within a few years or decades (Williams 1986).


Many initial economic activities typical of the mid-late nineteenth century focused on farming and ranching. Farming varied from rainfall-based dryland farming in upland areas to irrigated agriculture in river valleys that had relatively permanent flows. The establishment of the settlements listed above were almost invariably accompanied by the immediate construction of irrigation ditches (Ackerly 2002). For example, the La Plata Indian and McDermott ditches in the La Plata basin are believed to date to the late 1870s. In the Animas basin, the Star ditch is believed to date to the late 1870s. Irrigation systems drawing water from the San Juan River and dating to ca. 1880 include the Hammond Conservancy District, Castiano Ditch, San Juan #4, and Cuadi Ditch.

Ranching focused almost exclusively on sheep, although some cattle were also raised. Sheep ranching expanded rapidly, with totals in the state increasing from 250,000 in 1830 to upwards of 4,000,000 in 1880. Beginning in the 1850s and persisting through the 1860s, there were trail drives of large herds westward along a route that closely paralleled the Old Spanish Trail (Williams 1986). By the early twentieth century, there were 1.8 million head of sheep on the Navajo Reservation, comprising almost 93 percent of all livestock (Acrey 1994).

The rapid pace of settlement, accompanied by expansion of both farming and ranching, led to the construction in 1881 of the “Farmington Branch” of the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad. Intended largely to transport commodities, particularly fruit, northward and manufactured goods into the San Juan Basin, a spur line extending from Durango, CO, southward to Aztec and Farmington was completed in 1905 (Myrick 1990). What is perhaps most notable is that this spur was standard gauge, a novelty on the Denver and Rio Grande Western Railroad’s system of narrow-gauge rails; it was replaced with narrow-gauge rails in 1923 (Myrick 1990).

In Navajo county, the late nineteenth century and early twentieth century were characterized by the establishment of numerous trading posts. Beginning in 1869, trading posts associated with army garrisons at Ft. Defiance and Ft. Wingate were opened for Navajo trade (Acrey 1994). In the mid-1880s, a trading post was opened in Fruitland (Acrey 1994), soon followed by trading posts at Crystal (1892) and Two Gray Hills (1897). Trading posts provided both an outlet for goods, notably blankets and jewelry, produced by Navajo craftspeople, as well a source for manufactured Anglo goods. Historic Euro-Anglo components comprise only 3.1 percent of the known components in the planning area. Most are situated along the eastern margins of the planning area, mirroring the locations of early settlements as described above.

On FFO and AFO lands, there are 11 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. These include the:

1. Margarita Martinez Homestead

2. Dogie Canyon School

3. Rock House-Nestor Martin Homestead

4. Gonzales Canyon-Senon S. Vigil Homestead

5. Martin Apodaca Homestead

6. Jones Canyon (AFO)

7. 1870s Wagon Road Trail (Recreation) (AFO)

8. Historic Homesteads (Recreation) (AFO)

9. Azabache Station (Recreation) (AFO)

10. Headcut Prehistoric Community (AFO)

11. Cañon Jarido (AFO)


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


Navajo Sites of Unknown Age

Approximately 36 percent of the Components in the planning area that are ascribed to the Navajo culture are insufficiently documented with regard to age. At the moment, a lack of time sensitive diagnostic artifacts or other information prevents assignment of these sites to a particular period.

Sites of Uncertain Age

The final category of components in the planning area is sites whose age is uncertain and whose affiliation is unclear. Grouped under the rubric of “Unknown,” approximately 18.4 percent, or almost one component in five, cannot accurately be assigned to any time period.

Traditional Cultural Properties

Traditional cultural properties (TCP) are another class of cultural resources that occur within the planning area. These are places that have cultural values that transcend, for instance, the values of scientific importance that are normally ascribed to cultural resources such as archaeological sites. The National Park Service has defined TCPs as follows: A traditional cultural property can be defined generally as one [a property] that is eligible for the National Register because of its association with cultural practices or beliefs of a living community that (a) are rooted in that community’s history, and (b) are important in maintaining the continuing cultural identity of the community (National Register Bulletin 38).

TCPs may or may not coincide with places that yield artifactual remains such as archaeological sites. Mountains, buttes, mesas, hills, or other high points in an area are often potential TCPs. Places that cause echoes (“talking rocks”) may be favored as places of worship for the ability to amplify prayers and songs. Eagle nesting sites may also have great significance.

Prehistoric and historic Native American archaeological sites are quite often considered TCPs by some tribes or pueblos. For example, the Zuni Tribe views all prehistoric Pueblo sites as sacred and significant to the Zuni people. Many of the larger prehistoric Pueblo sites in the San Juan Basin, such as the Chaco outliers, have Navajo names and are linked in some cases to origin stories and ceremonies, and are recognized as part of a local community’s landscape. Another form of archaeological site, rock art, is of particular interest to several tribes who regard them as places of ongoing traditional and spiritual significance. For instance, the Hopi believe that certain design elements are evidence of the migrations of clans that have ancient and modern ties to the Hopi people.

In some cases, the importance is seemingly more secular than sacred. As an example, the location and associated oral history of an old Native American battle site can be just as powerful to a community’s sense of identity as a any number of Civil War battlefields are to their associated communities and descendants. Traditional cultural properties are not restricted to Native American cultural associations. Native Americans have in the past been the “community” most likely to identify TCPs, perhaps because they may be the only “community” that most federal agencies approach. Cultural resources regulations and legislation specifically identifies Native American tribes as a required point of contact on certain occasions and this may have biased the TCP identification efforts. There are good reasons to expect that non-Native American communities may have TCPs in the planning area. Hispanic and other Euro-American properties may qualify as candidates for TCP status. Portions of the planning area had a significant period of Hispanic homesteading settlement in the mid-late 19th century and early 20th century. As an example, the “Largo Cemetery” is a place that several Hispanic families in the area maintain and they have collected historical information about it and several historic homesteads in Largo Canyon.


These old ranches and the cemetery may qualify as a TCP.

A comprehensive inventory of TCPs in the planning area is not available. When compared to the plethora of archaeological surveys that have been completed, only a handful of TCP surveys have been completed in the planning area. Compounding this dearth of information, it is only within the past 10-15 years that TCPs have been regularly considered by federal agencies as a class of cultural properties to seek out and identify in advance of federally initiated or permitted actions, and even then identification efforts can be erratic. There are a small number of historical studies that identified TCPs, such as the work of scholars in the 1930s to 1940s studying the landscape and religious geography of the Navajo (e.g., Richard Van Valkenburgh) and the field surveys by archaeologists and anthropologists working for the Navajo Nation during the Navajo Lands Claim studies in the 1950s - 1960s.

In most cases, TCP surveys are not regularly conducted on federal lands within the planning area, particularly on small scale undertakings. In the planning area, it is often only the larger actions (e.g., coal mines, major pipelines) or undertakings potentially affecting known or previously suspected TCP areas that carry such requirements. Within the past decade or so, the development of large gas delivery systems have regularly included TCP studies as part of the overall cultural resource survey. On some tribal lands within the planning area (e.g., Navajo Nation), all cultural resource surveys are required to consider and attempt to identify TCPs. When large undertakings involve lands of varying jurisdiction in the so-called “checkerboard area” of the San Juan Basin and the planning area, TCP identification efforts are conducted on all affected lands.

Identification efforts not only entails on-theground inspections, but consultation with knowledgeable individuals and a review of the existing literature. Non-Native American approaches to identifying TCPs are different than those studies conducted by Native American investigators. An archaeologist trained from a perspective of western science will operate within a well defined set of scientific principles and methods at conducting research. A Native American investigator or consultant would probably be the first to admit that TCPs cannot often be identified scientifically, but only by reliance on the knowledge of traditional practitioners. In many cases, seasonality can affect the identification efforts because only during certain times of the year is it appropriate to discuss sacred matters. In other cases, the traditional consultant will ask to remain anonymous and will disclose information only if details are kept confidential and not made public. For many traditionalists, this is a conundrum to dis close information that should be withheld and run the risk of compromising the important place, or to withhold information and risk damage or destruction of the important place.

For this existing situational analysis, information about TCPs or potential TCPs was gleaned from a number of sources including popular publications, unpublished manuscripts, and cultural resource management documents. As a result of this effort, references to 73 TCPs or potential TCPs on federal, private, or state lands within the planning area were identified. Twenty-four Native American Tribes and 27 Navajo Chapters were also contacted. Places on tribally controlled lands are not included. In some cases, the TCPs are well known (e.g., Huerfano Mesa), but others are only known to a handful of traditional practitioners who in many cases requested that the specific location and nature of the place be held in confidence. In most cases, the location is adequately known, but there are a handful of TCPs where the specific locations are either vague or inconclusive because of the quality of the information. The kinds of places identified as TCPs or potential TCPs include clan origin places, landscape associated with origin history, battle sites, offering places, springs, antelope game traps/corrals, pottery gathering, a now abandoned community, trails, and a hanging location. As previously noted, most archaeo


logical sites are viewed or potentially viewed as TCPs by one or more Native American tribes, but they are not separately counted in this inventory of TCPs. However, several of the TCPs in the current inventory do coincide with the locations of archaeological sites.


Site Density, Site Types, and Attributes of Sites

The following section discusses variability in archaeological sites by gross time period, cultural affiliations/components, average size, and occurrence of features in each of the 20 watersheds comprising the planning area.

Table 3-18 shows the relative frequency of sites by watershed and gross time period (prehistoric, historic, multicomponent prehistoric and historic, and unknown). Map 3-11 shows the distribution of recorded archaeological sites in each watershed. More detailed information on methodology, site density, and distribution are documented in a supporting document (SAIC 2002b).

For the planning area as a whole, the ratio of prehistoric to historic sites is 1.50, or roughly three prehistoric sites for every two historic sites. Watershed-specific ratios of prehistoric sites to historic sites vary from a high of 15.1 (Rio Chama) to 5.2 (Mancos) to as little as 0.07 (Chinle). The most common, or modal, watershed-specific ratio is less than or equal to 1.0 (nine watersheds), indicating that historic sites are more common or as common as prehistoric sites. In contrast, watersheds exhibiting high ratios of prehistoric to historic sites are less common; using an arbitrary threshold of 2.0, prehistoric sites outnumber historic sites by 2:1 or more in only five of 20 watersheds. It is not clear whether these proportions are a function of total numbers of sites recorded in each watershed. Statistical analyses indicate that the ratio does not appear to be a function of sample size.

Table 3-19 summarizes the modal, or most common, types of sites likely to be found in each watershed. Salient attributes of these sites, including size and elevation, are also presented. This table provides a snapshot of the kinds of sites that archaeologists would be likely to encounter as they work in a watershed. Each site contains a variety of features. Among these, hearths, hogans, roomblocks, middens, and mounds are most common.

Component Frequency

Archaeological component distribution Most likely sites most likely sites