Thursday, January 12, 2017

Mesa Verde

After our brief stop in Kansas, we met Marcie and her family and Mom and Dad at Mesa Verde National Park.  We were there over the 4th of July so they had special Native American dancers.  At the Visitor's Center we saw some Hopi dancers doing a traditional dance.

While we were in Mesa Verde we went on the 3 tours to Cliff Palace, Long House, and Balcony House.  We went to Cliff Palace first as that was the shortest tour and Nathaniel could go on it.  The kids had fun climbing the one big rock while waiting for the tour to start.
Our tour guide on this tour was not particularly great.  She was pretty gruff and did a lot of her own hypothesizing rather than giving us history lessons.  The kids did get to climb a ladder or two which they were excited about but we didn't get to go up into the houses.  We did look into a kiva but that was about it.

I always am amazed at how small the openings were for the doors and how small their rooms were compared to how much space we have now!  I also still can't figure out how people could live in these cliff dwellings and farm up on top of the mesa.  Climbing up and down those cliffs seem so scary!  I don't know mothers kept their children safe either.  Yikes!

Nathaniel did have a good time playing the sand/dirt while the tour guide talked.
To get out of Cliff Palace, you had to climb up rocks and ladders which made me nervous with kids (but not near as nervous as the climb up to Balcony House or out of there!)

After our visit to Cliff Palace, we stopped along one of the roads and saw some kivas and other cliff dwellings.  This kiva was on top of the mesa.  The people who lived at Mesa Verde changed their type of housing throughout time.  At first the Ancestral Puebloan people lived on the Mesa.  They first lived in pit houses dug into the ground, then in houses made above ground and then into villages on the mesa.  The last group of Puebloan people were the ones who made and lived in the cliff dwellings (the things you learn when you do junior ranger badges!)

 One of the pages that the kids could do to earn their junior ranger badges was a Bingo game.  One of the things they had to spot was a lizard.  We saw lots of them when we stopped at the archaeological sites.
 Here is Cliff Palace from the other side of the valley.  You can get a good picture of where the village was located, ow far up they had to climb to get to their farming area, and how far down it was to the valley floor.  Not my ideal place to live!

One thing Brian and I remarked on later was how much Mesa Verde has changed since we were kids.  The sites haven't changed but the way that the tour guides talk about the place has changed.  No longer do they talk about the cliff dwelling as ruins nor do they talk about the Anasazi.  These cliff dwellings are still ancestral homes to Native Americans.  The Puebloan people were the ones who lived here and once they left Mesa Verde, the Pueblo split into various other Native American tribes.

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