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STORY OF CHACO CANYON

This piece of jewelry depicts Chaco Canyon and represents a spiritual and cultural journey for the descendants of Chaco—today’s Pueblo Indians. Chaco was the center of the ancient Pre-Puebloan civilization, literally the hub of a great empire which succeeded in many areas including advanced irrigation techniques and feats of architectural engineering. There is also evidence of a dark side, including stone roads wide enough for forced marches of pilgrims to a “sacred” place of possible sacrifices. A little over one hundred years of massive building took Chaco to its height in architecture and power—and culminated with a mass exodus of all those who called it home. They fled to southern Colorado, Utah, and northeastern Arizona, building cliff dwellings high in canyon walls like defensive structures, some even with signal towers. After a century in the cliffs, they climbed down, ventured out, and settled their families in peaceful valleys and on mesa tops. What they carried with them from the caves and cliffs was a new part of their religion—the kachinas—and a more egalitarian culture. But they also carried with them the traditions of the past—of living close with family; being there for each other through hard times and good times; responsibility for themselves, to their families and to their village. The story of Chaco is of great power brought down and reborn because of faith, endurance, humility, determination, and profound purpose. The Pueblo culture endures and thrives because of their profound purpose—moving forward with meaning.