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Origins of the People

GREAT PUEBLO PERIOD. The stage was now set for the great flowering of the Pueblo people; the way of life which had taken rough shape from A. D. 450 to 1050 now reached culmination in the Great Pueblo period. For about 200 years, or until around A. D. 1250, fortune smiled on the farming towns of the Four Corners country. The population grew and spread, and the handicraft arts reached a stage of impressive proficiency. The centers of this classic period which are today best known lie in three different States: Mesa Verde (in Mesa Verde National Park, Colo.), Chaco Canyon (in Chaco Canyon National Monument, N. Mex.), and the vicinity of Betatakin and Keet Seel (in Navajo National Monument, Ariz.) These three areas, all now under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service, contain the great cliff dwellings and communal houses which mark the highest development of prehistoric Indian attainments in the northern Southwest.

It is beyond the scope of this handbook to present an adequate description of the Great Pueblo towns and their inhabitants. Although almost contemporaneous, the three largest centers differed greatly in development, so that the total story becomes most complex. In general it may be said that the skills of farming and production of food stuffs became highly efficient, allowing the people more leisure in which to experiment with and improve their arts and crafts and their ceremonial rituals. Much elaboration and refinement of the potters craft, for example, is traceable to these years; some of the world's finest ceramic art, ancient or modern, comes from Chaco Canyon and the Mesa Verde. Again, in the field of jewelry-making and personal adornment, the craftsman of the 1100's produced shell-and turquoise-inlay work which would have earned the admiration of Cellini. Finally, a multiplicity of kivas is to be found in all the great houses of the period, as well as a number of Great Kivas embodying various elaborate altar features. This expenditure of effort to crowd the towns with ceremonial rooms would seem to indicate something of a preoccupation with religion. The numerous discoveries of carved stone fetishes and other ceremonial objects serve to bear out a concept of elaborate ritual and unending dedication to the service of their gods.

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