NEH Summer Institute for K-12 Educators

Depending on public health guidelines related to COVID-19, plans for a residential offering are subject to change.

Field Trip Locations

Chaco Cultural National Historical Park ( 

For all the wild beauty of Chaco Canyon’s high-desert landscape, its long winters, short growing seasons, and marginal rainfall create an unlikely place for a major center of ancestral Puebloan culture to take root and flourish. Yet this valley was the center of a thriving culture a thousand years ago. The monumental scale of its architecture, the complexity of its community life, the high level of its community social organization, and its far-reaching commerce created a cultural vision unlike any other seen before or since. 

Aztec Ruins National Monument (

Aztec Ruins, built and used over a 200-year period, is the largest ancestral Pueblo community in the Animas River valley. Concentrated on and below a terrace overlooking the Animas River, the people at Aztec built several multi-story buildings called “great houses” and many smaller structures. Associated with each great house was a “great kiva”—a large circular chamber used for social integration. Nearby are three unusual “tri-wall” structures—above-ground round rooms encircled by three concentric walls. In addition, the residents of Aztec modified the landscape with dozens of linear swales called “roads,” earthen berms, and platforms.

Salmon Pueblo (

This site was built in A.D. 1088-1090 by the ancestral Puebloans. The village was occupied until around A.D. 1288. The structures and artifacts show a clear architecture and culture relationship to those in Chaco Canyon, identifying Salmon Pueblo as a Chacoan outlier. Starting as early as A.D. 1050, and becoming extensive by A.D. 1200, a slow migration began to draw family groups away from the middle San Juan region and towards mesas, or to the more reliable water sources of the Rio Grande region. By A.D. 1300, the inhabitants of most Four Corners pueblos had migrated.

Mesa Verde National Park (

is a UNESCO World Heritage site located in southwestern Colorado. It is the ancestral homeland of many present-day Native peoples whose communities are now located in New Mexico, Colorado, and Arizona. The park oversees more than 4,000 known archaeological sites. The cliff dwellings are some of the most notable and best preserved sites in the United States.

The Haynie Site (

contains two Chaco–period (A.D. 1050–1140) great houses as well as evidence of substantial earlier occupations. All are part of the larger Lakeview group, which includes the two great houses at the Haynie site and two others nearby on private land. Although the Haynie site contains some of the most important archaeological information in the Mesa Verde region, we are still learning about its occupation and how it functioned within the larger community and Chaco regional system. The data we are in the process of gathering with volunteers and participants will dramatically increase our understanding of Chaco influence in the Mesa Verde region, changing human/environment relationships during the A.D. 1130–1180 drought, and the emergence and functioning of community centers through time. The research at the Haynie site will, in turn, tie into data Crow Canyon has collected over the past 38 years.