People had been living here for several hundred years, at least, before the volcano erupted. Although we don’t know what they called themselves, archeologists consider them representatives of the Sinagua culture. They were farmers, living in scattered groups adjacent to their corn fields. Their homes were pithouses, dug partially into the ground.
These people lived their lives in a landscape much like what we see today - pine forest and occasional open meadows, framed by the San Francisco Peaks and other ancient volcanoes. Then, about 900 years ago, a new volcano emerged literally before their eyes.