Deep in the heart of the Colorado Plateau, 50 miles west of Durango, Colorado, is a vast landscape that contains the highest known density of archaeological sites in the nation – Canyons of the Ancients National Monument . Here, ancient cliff dwellings, great kivas, sacred springs, and rock art sites are spread across a rugged landscape.
This area has been a focal point for archaeological exploration and research for 135 years. To date, 6,355 sites have been recorded. These sites represent all time periods of occupation, including PaleoIndian, Archaic, Basketmaker, and Ancestral Puebloan, as well as historic Ute, Navajo, and Anglo cultures.
The BLM manages the cultural resources of the 170,965-acre Monument on a landscape scale, recognizing the integral and interdependent relationships between cultural resource sites and the natural environment.
Many of the Monument’s values and management challenges were highlighted during the Science Symposium, A Decade of Discovery , held in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of the BLM's National Landscape Conservation System, May 24 – 28 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The event was sponsored by the BLM in partnership with the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science .
Protecting a landscape with high archaeological site densities while allowing recreational use, livestock grazing and fluid mineral development can pose a significant management challenge. A case study presented in Protecting Cultural Landscapes and Managing Multiple Use details how BLM managers are applying cultural resource research methodology and Native American perspectives to manage and protect cultural resources while balancing the pressures of conflicting land use programs.
One way to protect archaeological resources is to enlist the support of citizens. The presentation, Native Voice Interpretation at ... Canyons of the Ancients National Monument , describes successful programs such as films and brochures that illustrate the critical role partnerships and American Indian relationships play in protecting cultural resources.
Tribal Elders Visit Canyons of the Ancients National Monument