Historic Navajo Studies in Northeastern Arizona

Author(s): Charles D. James III

Year: 1976


Archaeological excavations along the north rim of Canyon del Muerto, Canyon de Chelly National Monument, Arizona, were conducted during 1972 by the Museum of Northern Arizona. The preliminary objective was to salvage 28 archaeological sites located within the rights-of-way of Route N64, the Chinle to Tsaile Lake road, and four associated spur roads.

Research designs for the excavations are broken into historic Navajo and prehistoric Anasazi sites; this report is concerned with the former. This sample consists of 19 sites. Studies were directed toward placing the Navajo occupation in time, finding canyon-rim relationships and determining what acculturative factors have appeared.

The first section focuses on the terminology used in this report, project procedures and the historical background of the Navajo occupation in the De Chelly area. The next part encompasses the excavated sites and ancillary studies conducted in conjunction with the project. Following this, a synthesis of the data is presented with a more refined temporal framework of Navajo occupation based on an earlier developmental sequence for this area. Also explored in the last section are settlement patterns and possible indices of acculturation.

Navajo occupation began in the De Chelly area prior to A.D. 1800 and continued almost uninterrupted for over 200 years. The early form of clustered settlement gave way to a more dispersed occupation, which at the present is becoming clustered again. Preferred areas along the rim are favored in settlement; both technological and environmental considerations appear to be responsible for this preference. Plant material associations, found at the sites and historical documents indicate rim-canyon travel occurred from the earliest Navajo occupation. This relationship is still continuing, but at the present appears to be breaking down, possibly due to acculturative factors.

Substantive contributions of this report include a more refined development of the Navajo chronology for this area, the indication of rim-canyon relationships, and the use of late historic sites on which to base inferences concerning the earlier Navajo sites.

Cite this Record

Historic Navajo Studies in Northeastern Arizona. Charles D. James III. 1976 ( tDAR id: 428067) ; doi:10.6067/XCV8428067

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Spatial Coverage

min long: -109.714; min lat: 35.898 ; max long: -109.178; max lat: 36.355 ;

Individual & Institutional Roles

Contact(s): Salt River Project Cultural Resource Manager

Project Director(s): Charles D. James III

Sponsor(s): National Park Service

Prepared By(s): Museum of Northern Arizona

Record Identifiers

Anthropology Research Report(s): 1

Bureau of Indian Affairs P.O. No.(s): 2N00-01-01734; 2N35-01-0153

MNA Research Paper(s): 1

SRP Library Barcode No.(s): 00030433

Contract No.(s): 14-10-3-930-252

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Contact(s): Salt River Project Cultural Resource Manager