Cultures of the Past
This area was occupied by ancestral people as early as 10,000 years ago. These earliest people are known as Paleoindians, and very little evidence of them remains. People of the Archaic culture lived here for the next several thousand years, from about 8,000 to 2,000 years ago. These people had a subsistence strategy based on hunting and gathering. Some of the rock art at petroglyph sites in the Monticello Field Office were produced by Archaic people.
Ancestral Puebloan Native Americans, also known as the Anasazi, lived here between about 2,000 and 800 years ago. They grew primarily corn, beans, and squash, and made use of some wild foods as well. They made and used stone tools, pottery, and baskets. They lived in permanent homes made of stone, wood, and mud. These may have been built on the surface of the ground, dug into the ground, or built in protected areas such as under overhangs and high in the cliffs. Many of the smaller structures in the cliffs are actually granaries where food was stored.
In the 1200s the Ancestral Puebloan culture was replaced by people speaking Numic languages, including the Ute. By about 1500, another group, the Navajo, had also arrived. Both the Navaho and the Ute still live in the area today. These groups practiced hunting, gathering, and herding of livestock. Some of their rock art can be seen today on the Field Office.
In the 1700s, Europeans started moving in. The Spanish unsuccessfully attempted to pioneer a trail between Santa Fe and California in 1776. Later, in 1829, Santa Fe merchant Antonio Armijo successfully established a trail, the Old Spanish Trail, which crossed the northeastern corner of the Field Office.
In 1847 Mormon pioneers moved into northern Utah and began expanding southward. The United States established claim to the area through victory in the Mexican War of 1848 and commerce on the Old Spanish Trail declined. The Mormons in 1879 launched an expedition to settle the area in an effort to pursue peaceful relations with Native Americans, and in an effort to repel a lawless element entrenched in the canyon country. The Hole-in-the-Rock Trail was blazed by the Mormons that winter and a permanent settlement in Bluff was established in 1880. More information on the Hole-in-the-Rock trek is on the Utah History to Go
website maintained by the state of Utah and on the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area