Chaco Canyon

Chaco Canyon has been theorized to be many things; however, there is one common thread in all the interpretations of Chaco: it was a place rich with ceremony and ritual. These rituals drew in tribes and clans from great distances away. There were undoubtedly seasonal migrations to Chaco in order to view or celebrate important solstices or equinoxes.

Imagine the tribes arriving at Chaco to experience the grandeur of landscape and architecture. This was all part of the experience for these visitors of ancient times, just as it is for those who visit today. Perhaps it was even a spiritual rite to travel to Chaco, and have the privilege of retreating into a Great Kiva.

In many of the modern Puebloan and Hopi ceremonies, insight into the practices of the Anasazi in Chaco Canyon can be found. These Chacoans were exposed to the natural elements, highly dependent on the caprice of nature. In order to temper their relationship with nature, they anthropomorphized many deities, such as Tewa, the Sun God, and Spider Woman. These spirits divided into many spirits because the responsibility was too great for two to handle. In order to appease and appeal to these great spirits, Ancient Chacoans made rituals and ceremonies a part of daily existence, always wanting to show gratitude or worship in whatever way may be applicable.

It’s also possible that many practices of Ancient Chacoans are practices that would be unrecognizable to the modern Puebloan, making it an anachronistic fallacy to consider the Chacoans in the context of the modern Puebloans:

“…avoid prejudging what political structures…it is perfectly possible that forms of organization that were common prehistorically have become extinct amongst modern Pueblos…” (Sebastian 5).

Seeking plausible connections is a plausible course of action, however. Just because the modern practices, rituals, ceremonies, social structure, etc. might not reflect the ancient societal structure, does not preclude that they might. In whole or in part, as there is likelihood, which increases if one considers the Puebloan resistance to change, even today. It seems evident that spirituality played a fundamental role in Chacoan existence, despite it being challenging for the modern scholar to grasp.