Navajo National Monument represents a long cultural history. The monument was first created in 1909 to protect the remains of three large pueblos dating to the 13th century C.E.: Keet Seel, Betatakin, and Inscription House. In addition to the large pueblo villages, archaeological evidence documents human use of this region over the past several thousand years.
The Ancestral Pueblo culture emerged as these early farmers began to depend on farming for most of their food. They built above-ground masonry houses, farmed the canyon streambeds, and interacted with far-reaching communities across the Colorado Plateau.
The Ancestral Pueblo people farmed the streambeds in the canyon bottoms, enabling them to flourish in this high desert environment. They hunted wild game and grew corn, beans, and squash. Climate at this time was similar to today, and these farmers relied on the canyon streams for water. Although they succeeded here for several hundred years, by 1300 CE, the villagers had all moved on. They may have left after a prolonged drought made farming here extremely difficult.
Last updated: July 7, 2018