Absent or Overlooked: Addressing the Early Athapaskan Presence in the San Juan Basin of Northwest New Mexico

Author(s): Jason Chuipka

Year: 2015


The San Juan Basin of New Mexico is one of the most archaeologically rich areas of the American Southwest. Three years in, the Navajo-Gallup Water Supply Project is the latest in a long history of infrastructure projects that provides the opportunity to conduct archaeological research and expand our understanding of the past. One question being addressed is when the Southern Athapaskans moved into the upper San Juan Basin and how long they occupied it before Navajo culture emerged. At the present time, archaeological evidence for the earliest emergence of Navajo culture (forked stick hogans, sweat lodges, characteristic ceramic and lithic technologies, maize agriculture) points to the A.D. 1500s. Archaeological evidence for an earlier Athapaskan presence has proven elusive, and interpretation of data has been prejudiced by hypotheses regarding the timing of migrations. Further complicating this issue is that most aceramic artifact scatters and camp sites encountered on large data recovery projects that may shed light on this issue have not been selected for investigation as they are considered to have minimum research potential. The current project seeks to devote more attention to defining and dating sites that may contribute to understanding the early Athapaskan occupation of the region.

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Cite this Record

Absent or Overlooked: Addressing the Early Athapaskan Presence in the San Juan Basin of Northwest New Mexico. Jason Chuipka. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397638)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -115.532; min lat: 30.676 ; max long: -102.349; max lat: 42.033 ;