"Some history" Top 5 Page for this destination Canyon de Chelly National Monument Favorite Tip by toonsarah

  Contemplating the Canyon
by toonsarah

Favorite thing: The Canyon floor has been inhabited for thousands of years: primitive peoples lived here 2,000 years ago; the Anasazi civilisation of the twelfth century dominated this whole region (before suddenly and inexplicably disappearing) and has left its remains here; and today the Navajo, who have lived here for the last 300 years, and who still rear sheep and goats in the canyon, and plant their crops.

The word Anasazi is Navajo for "Ancient Ones" or "Ancient Enemy”. This ancient pueblo culture is perhaps best-known for the stone and adobe dwellings built along cliff walls, and it is these ruins in particular that draw visitors here today. They were constructed with bricks created from sand, clay, and water, with some fibrous or organic material, shaped using frames and dried in the sun. Access was often only possible using ropes or ladders, making these homes and other buildings relatively safe from attack by animals or enemies. There was also safety in numbers, as several families would live together in one dwelling. These people were farmers, and knew how to irrigate their land, so were attracted to live in places where rivers flowed and could be harnessed for their crops. They are generally described as having suddenly died out in the 14th century, although some historians and present-day Pueblo people (e.g. the Hopi) dispute this, and say rather that the Anasazi merged with other peoples and are the ancestors of today’s Pueblo people.

Fondest memory: Enlarge the photo to see me perched on the Canyon's edge, complete with dodgy perm!

Review Helpfulness: 4 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Feb 26, 2010
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