Friends of Chaco - A New Mexico Nonprofit Supporting Chaco Culture National Historical Park

About Us

About the Friends

The Friends of Chaco is a New Mexico nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation created to assist and support Chaco Culture National Historical Park. We engage in a variety of educational and outreach activities that help benefit visitors and help protect Chaco Culture National Historical Park. The Friends is an all volunteer organization, 100% of your donations go to support our educational activities.The Park is located 150 miles northwest of Albuquerque, NM, in the high desert at an elevation of 6200 feet. Access is easily gained via US 550, CR 7900, and CR7950 (an improved graded dirt road; but phone ahead for road conditions). More intrepid travelers enter from the south via NM 371, Navajo 9 and NM 57 (a not very well maintained graded dirt road).

Members of the Board
Isabel Hawkins, Lafayette, CA – Co-Secretary
Clif Taylor, CA
Joan Snader, Santa Fe, NM
Michael Snader, Santa Fe, NM – Treasurer
Steve Speth, Lebanon, OR – President
Joseph Suina, Cochiti Pueblo, NM
Shelly Valdez, New Laguna, NM – Co-Secretary
Tracy Bodnar, Aztec, NM
Ron Sutcliff, Pagosa Springs, CO
Dave Simon, Albuquerque, NM

Michael Quijano-West, Nageezi, NM is the Park Superintendent and Liaison to the Board.

Chaco Culture National Historic Park: Center of Chacoan Culture
Chaco Culture National Historical Park is a unique cultural place, designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Chaco Canyon was the center of a thriving ancestral Puebloan culture a thousand years ago. The monumental scale of its architecture, the complexity of its community life, the high level of its community social organization, and its far-reaching commerce created a cultural vision unlike any other seen before or since.

The cultural flowering of the Chacoan people began in the mid 800s and lasted more than 300 years. The great houses of Pueblo Bonito, Una Vida, and Peñasco Blanco were constructed in the mid- to late-800’s, followed by Hungo Pavi, Chetro Ketl, Pueblo Alto, and others. These structures were often oriented to solar, lunar, and cardinal directions, and lines of sight between the great houses allowed communication. Sophisticated astronomical markers, communication features, water control devices, and formal earthen mounds which surrounded them. The buildings were placed within a landscape surrounded by sacred mountains, mesas, and shrines that still have deep spiritual meaning for their descendants.

By 1050, Chaco had become the ceremonial, administrative, and economic center of the San Juan Basin. Its sphere of influence was extensive. Dozens of great houses in Chaco Canyon were connected by roads to more than 150 great houses throughout the region. Pueblo descendants say that Chaco was a special gathering place where many peoples and clans converged to share their ceremonies, traditions, and knowledge. Many Southwest Indian people look upon Chaco as an important stop along their clans’ sacred migration paths-a spiritual place to be honored and respected. This long and unique history is one reason why Chaco Culture National Historic Park was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1987.