Monday, April 9, 2007

Wukoki Pueblo

Wukoki Pueblo is an ancient Indian construction, rising above the Colorado Plateau on an outcropping of Moenkopi sandstone. With a commanding view of the surrounding terrain, it is visible from several miles away.

The name Wukoki is the modern Hopi word for "big house." There were three stories in what seems to be a tower that rises on one side of the outcropping. A total of six or seven rooms may have been home for two or three families. It is a grand structure, built with a fine sense of balance and proportion.

Occupation of this pueblo is dated from approximately 1120 to 1210 AD, based on types of pottery found there. Today’s Hopi and Zuni tribes are believed to be the descendants of the people who lived here. As with other Indian ruins in the region, there seems to be a good deal of uncertainty about who built these communities and why they left them. In this harsh climate with scarce water and marginal farmland, it can be assumed that life was not easy.

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There are other ancient dwellings in the area, spread over the dry, rugged land directly west of the Little Colorado River. Another, called Wupatki Pueblo, contains a ball court, which may have belonged to cultural traditions of Indians living in Mexico. Many such structures have been found (with over 200 across Arizona), leading experts to believe that ball games were an important part of life for these people.

Before Cleveland: home court of the Wupatki Indians. The ballcourt here is 78 feet wide, with a six foot high wall. (reconstructed from remnants)

Both of these pueblos are found in Wupatki National Monument, a 56 square mile preserve located about 25 miles north of Flagstaff, Arizona. From here we headed to the Grand Canyon.

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