All posts by mjh

Mark Justice Hinton lives in New Mexico and loves the Four Corners region, as well as the Rocky Mountains. Write him at

San Juan mountains and national forests

The San Juan Mountains are in Southwestern Colorado (part of the magnificent Four Corners Area: Colorado, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah). I hesitate to say this is the most beautiful country I’ve ever seen.

Below is a link to a page of links put together by the San Juan Mountains Association. Also, a link to a map of this stunning area.mjh

Links: Want to know more about Southwest Colorado and public lands?

big map of San Juan National Forest area

Moab Men Charged with Digging Up Anasazi Ruins

KSL News: Moab Men Charged with Digging Up Anasazi Ruins

Three men have been accused of causing ten thousand dollars damage to an Anasazi archaeological site, charges that bring a decade in prison and a hefty fine.

Phillip C. Morse, Donald Snowberger, and Woodard J. Cresswell, all of Moab, are accused of damaging the Side Canyon Rock Shelter on Bureau of Land Management property near Moab.

They were indicted Wednesday by a federal grand jury in Salt Lake City on charges of violating the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and damaging property of the United States.
The first count carries a term of up to two years behind bars and the second has a ten-year maximum. The maximum fine for violating each law is 250 thousand dollars.

The alleged violations took place December second, 1998.

A U-S Attorney’s Office spokeswoman says these cases often take years to come to court because experts must assess the damage.

The indictment says that the site consists of material remains of human life and activity dating to the Basketmaker Period. The Utah State Historical Society says the Anasazi came to Utah around 400 A-D, bringing their basketmaker cultural traditions.

(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

Still more on Chaco corn research

Ancient corncobs unlock riddle

At its height, Pueblo Bonito is thought to have supported between 6,000 and 12,000 people. Excavations of the largest building have found hundreds of rooms, turquoise ornaments, unusual cylindrical jars, finely crafted spear points and icons of tropical birds from Central America.

Beyond the central city, a network of roads led to outlying villages that were scattered across more than 23,000 square miles of the San Juan Basin.

Each of the article I’ve linked to is a little different from the others, though some names & quotes are the same. mjh


AGEEZI, N.M. — The Navajo revere this remote area around a tabletop mesa in northwestern New Mexico as the place where the mythical figure Changing Woman gave birth to two warrior sons who made the universe safe.

Energy companies desire this area for its strategic location in the San Juan Basin, a geological mother lode of natural gas reserves in the Four Corners region that has become one of North America’s richest sources of mineral wealth.

The almost inevitable clash of these conflicting values has laid bare the Navajo Nation’s contentious relations with oil and gas companies, including accusations of underpayment for land leases and negligence by the government agencies overseeing such agreements.

It’s Gas vs. Heritage in Navajo Country

The outrageous actions of the energy industry in the Four Corners have caused ranchers and Navajos to shout “enough!” mjh

Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

Painted Hands PuebloCanyons of the Ancients National Monument in southwestern Colorado contains a huge number of archaeological sites (more than 6000 recorded, up to 100 per square mile in some places) representing the Ancestral Puebloan and other Native American cultures, as well as important historic and environmental resources.

Bureau of Land Management Colorado – Canyons of the Ancients National Monument

The area of this relatively new National Monument is east of Hovenweep National Monument and north of Mesa Verde National Park. It includes Lowry Ruins, Yellowjacket Ruins and many, many less-well-known ruins. The headquarters are in the Anasazi Heritage Center, between Dolores and Cortez. mjh

Ancient pueblos forced to cope with drought-or perish

Pueblo Bonito photoWhy did a culture that had survived previous droughts collapse during this one?

The answer, experts say, is a cautionary tale about coping with drought in the arid West.

Wherever you live in the Southwest, it ultimately comes down to the same thing: If it isn’t dry now, wait. It will be. And the pattern appears to be repeating.

Ancient pueblos forced to cope with drought-or perish By John Fleck, Durango Herald Online

Interesting article about the effect of the cycle of drought in the southwestern United States, by the abqjournal’s science writer. mjhmjh

Senate OKs Funds for Chaco Collection

Caretakers of the huge Chaco Culture archaeological collection are cheered by U.S. Senate approval of $3.7 million to finish construction of a home for the artifacts.

Wendy Bustard, curator of the National Park Service collection, said the move last week raises hopes that the measure will clear the House by September.

The funding would complete construction of the Frank C. Hibben Center for Archaeological Research at the University of New Mexico. The Chaco Collection will occupy the second and third floors at the center, she said.

“We are excited about it,” Bustard said of the Senate’s approval on Thursday.. “Both the Park Service and UNM are anxious to get on with it.”

Sen. Pete Domenici, R-N.M., sponsored the Senate bill.

Bustard said the Park Service could begin moving the collection into the Hibben Center by fall 2004 if the House approves the money.

For now, an estimated 1.5 million artifacts in about 2,000 boxes are held in a cramped storeroom at UNM. The material was collected at the 35,000-acre Chaco Culture National Historical park, 50 miles west of Cuba.

Some 5,000 Chaco Anasazi lived at the site from the mid-800s to about 1200.

Hibben, who died last year at age 91, donated $4 million to build the Hibben Center next to UNM’s Maxwell Museum. The building’s shell and first floor were completed last year.

Completion of the second and third floors will allow UNM and the Park Service to consolidate their Chaco Culture collections at one site, together with archaeological field records, photos and other archival materials now housed at Zimmerman Library, she said. — by Olivier Uyttebrouck, ABQjournal

Pueblo Bonito arial photoAnasazi drinking mug photoThe Chaco Collection, jointly owned and managed by the Maxwell Museum and the National park Service Cultural Research Division, contains approximately 750,000 artifacts from archaeological field work in Chaco Canyon. The collections were acquired from the 1940s through the early 1980s during excavation, testing, stabilization and survey of sites in the canyon and surrounding areas.

Chaco Canyon