Letter from the President: After All, It’s Our Park

It goes without saying that Chaco Culture National Historical Park is one of Americas’ true treasures. Chaco connects us to our own shared history, preserves not just incredible architectural wonders, but also a people’s memory; a culture of triumph in a harsh environment. Visitors to Chaco are humbled, awed, and spiritually moved.

Sadly, however, Chaco is fragile and easily disturbed. Even when the best of intentions are paramount, as in the excavations carried out by professionals in the 1920’s and 1930’s, mistakes can be made. Thousands of tons of fill were removed from rooms at that time and simply carted off to be dumped into Chaco wash. The technology did not exist at that time to properly investigate the smallest fragments of Chacoan history.

Every pottery shard, every fragment of every tool, every grain of pollen or waste found at Chaco is part of an immense and complicated puzzle. What will technology in the future be able to tell us about the incredible lives of people 1000 years ago? To move, let alone remove, even the seemingly most innocuous artifact damages the puzzle. Only when items can be studied and recorded untouched can an accurate picture of the past come forth.

If you come across an artifact while exploring Chaco, take a photo, enjoy the moment, but leave no evidence that you were there. Don’t be embarrassed to inform a Park Ranger of anything you see or come across that might in some small way be important to preserve for future visitors. After all, it’s our park.

Steve Speth
President, Friends of Chaco

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