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Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco's Southern Frontier

Chacoan outliers and great house communities in Zuni's Cibola region

June 1–7, 2014

Chaco and El Morro images


$2,595 (member*)
$2,720 (nonmember)

Deposit: $400
Balance due: Apr. 2, 2014

*Minimum $100 level
(see Membership)

Join Zuni tribal member and archaeologist Dan Simplicio and archaeologist Ruth Van Dyke in exploring the southern frontier of the Chaco world. From about A.D. 900 to 1150, Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico was the center of a vast regional system that integrated much of the Pueblo world. In communities as far as 100 miles away, people built structures with architectural features characteristic of "downtown" Chaco. These remote outliers offer a glimpse into an ancient social landscape of astonishing scale and complexity. In the wooded valleys and sandstone canyons of the Cibola region south of Chaco, many outliers were occupied long after downtown Chaco fell silent. On this trip, we'll visit sites on private and state lands as well as on Zuni Pueblo lands. Expect a thought-provoking exchange of ideas as Ruth and Dan relate the histories of the southern frontier to the well-defined stages of the Chaco phenomenon.

Educational Focus

New research on community organization and trading networks in the southern Chaco world and beyond

What archaeology reveals about the movement of people across the landscape

History and culture of the Zuni people, from ancient times to the present

Scholars Dr. Ruth Van Dyke (top) and Dan Simplicio (bottom)


Dr. Ruth Van Dyke, associate professor of anthropology at Binghamton University, is a leading researcher on Chacoan ideology, social identity, and collective memory.

Dan Simplicio is a Zuni tribal member and archaeologist who serves as a consultant to the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center. A former member of the Zuni Tribal Council, Dan led the tribe's successful effort to prevent mining at the sacred Zuni Salt Lake.


Sunday, June 1: Arrive in Durango, Colorado, by 4 p.m. for dinner and an introduction to the week's activities. Overnight, Durango. (D)

Monday, June 2: We drive south (2½ hours) through the San Juan Basin to Chaco Culture National Historical Park. Our comparison of the Chacoan and Cibolan worlds begins here, as Ruth and Dan introduce us to the great houses of "downtown" Chaco. At the ruins of Pueblo Bonito and Casa Rinconada, we examine the architectural features that define great houses and great kivas and discuss current theories about their function in the community. Overnight, Farmington. (B, L)

View enlarged map.

Tuesday, June 3: Having identified primary features of Chaco culture in the canyon, we travel south to more distant great house communities. At the unexcavated site of Kin Bineola (built between A.D. 1110 and 1120), we identify architectural attributes that are also found in the earliest sections of Pueblo Bonito and discuss the water-control system in Kin Bineola Wash. After a picnic lunch, we drive to Kin Ya'a, a Chaco great house with a small house community and an isolated great kiva. Then it's on to two more outliers: Casamero Pueblo, 40 miles south of Chaco Canyon, and the Andrews site, a focus of Ruth's doctoral dissertation. Overnight, Grants. (B, L, D)

Wednesday, June 4: Over the next two days, we explore the heart of the Cibola-Zuni region. We stop briefly at the Zuni-Acoma trailhead at El Malpais National Monument, a rugged landscape created by volcanic activity within the last thousand years. At El Morro National Monument, we hike to the mesa top to visit Atsinna, an early Zuni Pueblo site. The rocky bluffs of El Morro provided shelter for travelers and traders between Acoma and Zuni, and the rock art panels here may indicate a strong communication network between Chaco Canyon and Zuni. We continue on to Yellow House, an early Zuni Pueblo site, and to Village of the Great Kivas, a Chacoan outlier. Overnight, Gallup. Dinner on your own. (B, L)

Thursday, June 5: Our exploration of the Cibola region continues at Hantalapinkya, a rock art site that reveals a possible blend of Chacoan and Cibolan features. With special permission from the Pueblo of Zuni, we continue on to the site of Hawikuh. This historic pueblo was still occupied at the time of the Spanish entrada of 1540, when Vázquez de Coronado arrived in search of the legendary Seven Cities of Gold. At Hawikuh we discuss cultural and historical continuity and the remarkable confluence of cultures and sequence of events initiated by Coronado. Overnight, Gallup. (B, L, D)

Friday, June 6: Returning east through the village of Zuni, we stop at the A:shiwi A:wan Museum and Heritage Center, where Dan introduces us to modern Pueblo life among the A:shiwi (Zuni). We tour the Hawikuh exhibit and learn about the significance of these repatriated artifacts. In the afternoon, we drive north to Cortez (3 hours). Overnight, Cortez. (B, L, D)

Saturday, June 7: Drive to Durango. Departure from Durango may be scheduled for any time after 10 a.m. (B)

Itinerary subject to change

B = breakfast, L = lunch, D = dinner


Tuition: Tuition is per person, based on shared hotel accommodations, and includes accommodations, meals listed, entry fees and permits, most gratuities, and group transportation from arrival in Durango, Colorado, on Sunday, June 1, 2014, until departure from Durango on Saturday, June 7, 2014. Transportation to and from Durango is your responsibility.

Accommodations: Ccomfortable motels (double occupancy); single accommodations available for an additional fee of $554.

What to Expect: This program begins and ends in Durango, Colorado (elevation 6500 feet). Travel is by Crow Canyon vans. Some drives are several hours long and include travel on remote dirt roads where amenities are scarce. Access to most sites requires walks of up to 2 miles roundtrip over uneven terrain. Our pace will be leisurely, but you must be comfortable standing and walking for several hours at a time.


The following penalty schedule applies: On or before April 2, 2014: $200 handling fee; after April 2, 2014: forfeiture of all payments. For complete cancellation and refund policy, see Terms and Conditions.



The Crow Canyon Archaeological Center's programs and admission practices are open to applicants of any race, color, nationality, ethnic origin, gender, or sexual orientation.

Registration as a seller of travel does not constitute approval by the State of California
CST 2059347-50

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