Sunday, after leaving our Najavo host families, we drove to Cortez, Colorado and unloaded our bus at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, where we would spend the week. While there we would learn about the procedure behind archaeology and how the center works with representing Native Americans.
On Tuesday morning, we loaded up the Crow Canyon school bus and headed out to Mesa Verde National Park for the day.
Our guide in the park was Clyde Benally, a Navajo historian who is currently serving as a National Park Ranger at Mesa Verde National Park. He took us on a journey through the sites, sharing with us stories about the sites and their significance to the people who lived there. He suggested that archaeologists have a difficult time grasping the spiritual aspects and the oral traditions that surround the sites, instead focusing solely on evidence provided through artifacts. This was a bold statement to a group coming from an archaeological center, including our Crow Canyon educator, Beth Stone.
The most substantial site we visited was Balcony House which is the most strenuous of the open sites at the park. We were once again guided by Ranger Benally, who helped us imagine what it might have been like to live in such a place 900 years ago. To enter the dwellings we climbed down 100 feet from the road, only to turn back around and climb up a 32 foot tall ladder to a small passageway that led to the ruins. Ranger Benally led us through the site room by room, as we climbed over natural staircases and through a carved out tunnel. He ended the tour emphasizing the importance of respect and trust built throughout family generations.
We also went to Spruce Tree House, which we were allowed to visit without a guide. While there, we saw a couple open Kivas and were able to go into a reassembled pit Kiva. The Kiva played an important role in the religious ceremonies of the Pueblo people who lived in Mesa Verde.
After a long day at the internationally recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site, we returned to Crow Canyon for a good night sleep before we started our on-site excavatio