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Local Voices
Canyon de Chelly – BWBImages /

The human experience runs deep. For perhaps 20,000 years our ancestors lived here. They came as hunters and gatherers, nomads trailing the big game of our most distant memories. Over millennia of great change they learned to domesticate their food sources and became the farmers who founded the towns that make this America's archaeological heartland.

"We live surrounded by a great depth of history, and it's all laid bare. The archaeology here is so easy to see. There are sites in our backyards and petroglyphs along the hiking trails. You can sense the reverence the ancient people had for the land. They had an incredible aesthetic, an appreciation for the drama of the terrain. You can see how they stood at these sites and loved the beauty. We're lucky here because we can see how human beings actually created a sacred landscape and why."
- Frank Oatman, retired landscape architect, Arroyo Hondo, New Mexico

"To say that this is one of the world's greatest archaeological regions is no idle boast. The Four Corners has the highest density of sites in North America and is equal to any of the great archaeological areas of the world. On top of that, the ancestral Puebloan culture is arguably the best documented Neolithic society on the planet. More than ninety percent of the sites date to the Puebloan occupation - the period that followed the introduction of corn-based agriculture some three-thousand years ago. Farming transformed society through rapid population growth and hurried cultural and environmental change. The people living at that time confronted many of the same challenges we face today. We have a lot to learn from them."
- Mark Varien, Research and Education Chair, Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, Cortez, Colorado