Gobernador/Reading History in Stone, Wood, and Clay
morris and kidder
A.V. Kidder, right, and Earl Morris pioneered the field of Southwest archaeology through their work in the Gobernador and elsewhere in the early decades of the 20th century. Their friendship spanned their professional careers of more than 50 years in the field. Morris' work in the Gobernador in 1915 was the first full-scale excavation of what would prove to be early Navajo sites. His findings were not published until 1965, however, when Roy Carlson of the University of Colorado Museum, Boulder, summarized his results. Photograph courtesy of Don Woodard, Cortez, Colorado.

In 1912, stories told by Hispanic sheepherders of "pueblitos"--stone fortresses hidden among cliffs and boulder fields--drew the first archaeologist to the Gobernador. A.V. Kidder's work at Pecos Pueblo, where he would use broken pottery to tie Pueblo history to time, lay several years in the future. Far to the west, in the Gobernador, he found handfuls of sherds from coarse grey jars and pieces of glazed and multi-colored polychrome pots made in pueblos from the Rio Grande to Hopi Mesas. He also found a different type of polychrome pottery, made in the Gobernador itself.

Spanish, Navajo and Pueblo histories told of people from Jemez, Pecos, Pojoaque, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Cochiti, San Lazaro, and San Cristobal seeking refuge in the Gobernador country. Here, following the Pueblo Revolts of 1680 and 1696, Kidder thought elements of ancestral Navajo and Pueblo cultures had merged into the beginnings of today's Navajo traditions.

Fifty years after Kidder's first visit, when work on Navajo Dam and Reservoir brought archaeologists back to study what would be lost beneath the water, most agreed on the broad outlines of Navajo archaeology: The Navajo had arrived in the Southwest before the Spanish Entrada of 1540-1541; they had moved into New Mexico's canyonlands between 1500 and 1700; the pueblitos of Dinétah were built by Navajos working alongside Pueblo "refugees" during the late 1600s and early 1700s; and the Gobernador region was abandoned by about 1750. The confluence of the Los Pinos and the San Juan, where the Hero Twins had made their home, disappeared under the rising waters of Navajo Reservoir.


Navajo History | Early Archaeology | Pueblito Architecture | Clothing & Tools
New Spain (1600-1700) | Modern Archaeology | Timeline | Acknowledgements
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