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Last updated 9:41AM ET
December 13, 2017
KSUT Regional
KSUT Regional
Study On ALP Artifacts Yields New Info On Early Settlers
(2007-09-07)
TOP: Colorado Lt. Governor Barbara O'Brien looks over some of the artifacts recovered in the ALP project area.
BOTTOM: A large Puebloan water pot reconstructed by the archeological team.
(Photos: Victor Locke, KSUT)
(ksut) - HOST LEAD: A study of almost one million artifacts, recovered from the area of the huge Animas La Plata water project, South and West of Durango is starting to wrap up.
The items are yielding new information about early settlers in the Four Corners and La Plata County.
KSUT's Victor Locke reports.

YODER: I WOULD SAY WE ARE PROBABLY UP IN THE 800 TO 900 THOUSAND RANGE AS FAR AS INDIVIDUAL ARTIFACTS.
VICTOR: Tom Yoder is Field Director for the archeological firm SWCA, working on assessing 74 significant sites in the Animas La Plata Project area.
YODER: WHEN I SAY INDIVIDUAL ARTIFACTS, THAT'S EVERYTHING FROM A WHOLE BOWL TO JUST A PIECE OF A POT, SO DEPENDING ON HOW THEY'RE PUT BACK TOGETHER IT COULD BE, AS I SAID JUST A TINY BIT OF POTTERY UP TO A WHOLE BIG GRINDING SLAB, BUT WE HAVE MANY MANY OBJECTS.
Inside a non-descript warehouse in Bodo Park, Yoder displayed some of the items earlier this week to members of the Colorado Commission on Indian affairs, and Lt. Governor Barbara O'Brien, who chairs the commission, which was meeting in Ignacio.
He says many of the objects found in Ridges Basin, the area that will soon become Nighthorse Reservoir, date to the period 750 to 825 AD, what he refers to as the Pueblo 1 period. It pre-dates by several hundred years, what was found at Mesa Verde.
He says the artifacts have revealed much about those living here at the time.
YODER: WE KIND OF GET TO SEE HOW FOLKS WERE COMING OUT OF THE LIFE WAY OF SORT OF ROAMING AROUND THE LANDSCAPE OVER THE COURSE OF A YEAR, MAKING SORT OF CAMPS, HERE AND THERE, TO THE TRANSITION TO WHAT WE SEE IN RIDGES BASIN DURING THIS EARLY PUEBLO ONE PERIOD WHICH IS, THEIR LIVING IN THE SAME PLACE, THEIR BASICALLY SEDENTARY, THEY'RE ADOPTING MORE OF A CORN AGRICULTURE AND THEIR SOCIETIES ARE BECOMING MORE COMPLICATED AND MORE COMPLEX. WE'RE SEEING A LITTLE BIT OF SOCIAL STRATIFICATION, DIFFERENT ETHNIC GROUPS POSSIBLY COMING INTO THIS AREA, AN INHABITING DIFFERENT CLUSTERS OF SITES.
They've also recovered and studied thousands of human remains found in the area.
YODER: BUT WE HAVE SEEN DEFINITELY SIGNS OF TRAUMA ON SOME OF THE HUMAN REMAINS AND IT LOOKS LIKE THERE WAS AT LEAST ONE BIG EVENT WHERE A FEW PEOPLE WERE MASSACRED.
SWCA was contracted by the Ute Mountain Ute tribe to conduct the survey.
Terry Knight has been monitoring SWCA's work for the tribe and says he's been fascinated by what they've found.
It could help the Ute Mountain Tribe to understand its roots and relationships with others.
KNIGHT: IT'S LIKE A BIG PUZZLE, EVERY NOW AND THEN THEY FIND CERTAIN IMPORTANT PIECES OF THAT PUZZLE AND THAT PUZZLE IS FINALLY GETTING PUT TOGETHER. WE EXISTED WITH THEM, AND MAYBE, MAYBE, YOU NEVER KNOW, JUST SPECULATION, WE MIGHT HAVE PUSHED THEM OUT OR FOUGHT WITH THEM OR SOMETHING.
Lt. Governor Barbara O'Brien says she was most impressed by the enormity of the research underway.
O'BRIEN: I HAD NO IDEA THAT IT HAD BEEN SUCH AN EXHAUSTIVE ATTEMPT TO SAVE THE HISTORY OF THIS WHOLE AREA AND I'M JUST AMAZED AT WHAT THEY FOUND AND PIECED BACK TOGETHER. AND I'M REALLY GLAD TO SEE AN EXAMPLE OF A FUTURE PROJECT GOING FORWARD BUT NOT HAVING TO SACRIFICE OUR HISTORY AND OUR ROOTS.
O'Brien and others were able to view and hold dozens of pieces recovered by the team during their visit.
The items will soon be relocated to the Anasazi Heritage Museum where they'll be catalogued and saved.
Human remains, which are kept in a so called "clean room" in the warehouse, will eventually be turned over to the Acoma Pueblo, the closest identified relatives of the one time occupants of Ridges Basin, to be reinterred in secret ceremonies next year.
From KSUT, Four Corners Public Radio, I'm Victor Locke.
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