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Report on the NMAC Conference: Chuska and Chaco

By Paul F. Reed, Preservation Archaeologist and Chaco Scholar at Salmon Ruins

The central Chuska Valley. View from a Pueblo III mesa-top fortress known as The Gap, looking west toward the Chuska Mountains, 1998. Click to enlarge.

The New Mexico Archaeological Council (NMAC) 2012 Fall Conference convened on Saturday, November 10. The theme was Chuska–Chaco relationships across the San Juan Basin. A series of papers summarized recent initial work by PaleoWest on the Pueblo archaeology of the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project. Sites encountered date from Basketmaker III (A.D. 500–750) to Pueblo II (900–1150). The project should continue for the next several years. Another paper discussed SRI’s (Statistical Research, Inc.) recent work along US 491 in the Tohatchi area of the southern Chuska Valley, where archaeologists found a high density of Basketmaker remains. Other conference papers discussed Chuska ceramics from the mounds at Pueblo Bonito and sourcing studies of Chuskan pottery conducted over the last fifteen years.

My paper at the end of the conference summarized the ancient Pueblo sequence in the Chuska Valley, highlighting different locales from north to south. I strove to emphasize the long-term Pueblo presence in the valley, and the unique nature of the adaptation. After about A.D. 1000, Chaco–Chuska interaction accelerated, and several great houses were constructed up and down the Chuska Valley by Chacoan migrants or by local Chuskan leaders as a way to join the Chacoan System.

The central Chuska Valley. View from a Pueblo III mesa-top fortress known as The Gap, looking east toward Bennett Peak (big volcanic peak) and Ford Butte (smaller one), 1998. Click to enlarge.

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