The Sedona Connection

Chaco Canyon: The Sedona Connection

There are many different sizes of kivas at Chaco Canyon, with most of them located inside the Great Houses. The high number of kivas inspires us to believe they were used concurrently by various families, sects, clans, trade groups, and leaders, as workspaces and / or for religious ceremonies. Valuable jewelry and ritual items have been found in the ruins of kivas, and it is presumed that the kivas were also places to hide or store certain items, such as strings of beads and turquoise pendants; (Krupp 234).

Pondering the purpose and function of a kiva in Chacoan society leads one to believe that the largest ones would have been ceremonial and communal in nature. The sheer size would have accommodated upwards of 400 people at the largest kiva, Casa Rinconada. The smaller kivas present more of a puzzle, especially by their ubiquity. In modern Pueblo times, small kivas are called clan kivas, denoting their function and use is specific to a clan. Possibly, the explanation for the high number of kivas suggests a high number of families or clans. Traveling to Sedona.

Puebloan history suggests that kivas were controlled by the men, just as the domestic space was controlled by the women. During the 1924 excavations of Pueblo Bonito, Neil Judd revealed that the men built the kivas to the exclusion of the women, as the kivas appeared to have less craftsmanship in their overall appearance than did the other masonry in which the women were involved. By speculating that the ritual functions of the kiva have remained unchanged, it is possible that women were allowed to enter the kivas to attend important decisions and ceremonies.

In the layout of the canyon, visual lines of communication were a priority. There are small outcroppings of round mounds, unexcavated, all around the landscape. These are small house communities that have been buried by the silt of centuries of wind. Today, many of these mounds are camouflaged, covered in Russian Thistle. Nonetheless, as one stands below Casa Rinconada, it is easy to conjure up an image of it standing mighty and proud over the community of small houses along the southern shores of the Chaco Wash, taking notice of the straight road connecting Casa Rinconada to Pueblo Bonito. This ancient road would have been travelled daily and would have been a busy road, full of social exchanges. One can imagine the canyon alive with the sounds from Casa Rinconada, the dancers within, the sounds of the foot drums, and seeing and smelling the smoke of the fire that burned.