Betatakin

A view down across Tsegi Canyon in the area of Betatakin. The canyon is red sandstone walls rising above a well-treed canyon floor.
Tsegi Canyon
A view of the ruins from under the sandstone overhang
Looking at the ruins from beneath the overhang

Betatakin is a Navajo word meaning "House built on a ledge." The Hopi name is Talastima, meaning "Place of the Corn Tassel." Located in an arm of Tsegi Canyon, Betatakin is part of the Kayenta-Tusayan historic area. The pueblo was abandoned well before the Navajo came into this countryside.

The pueblo consisted of about 120 rooms and one kiva. Because of rock fall over the years, only about 80 rooms can still be accessed.

The pueblo was built about 1275 and abandoned around 1300. At its height there were about 120 rooms and one kiva. The maximum population was maybe 120 people.

Map showing the generally southward migrations of the Kayenta people in the late 1200's and early 1300's CE
Migration routes followed by the
Kayenta people around 1300 CE

The time of Betatakin was about the same time period as the Great Drought, from 1276 to 1298. This was a long term drought that affected people all over the Four Corners area. It was one of the principal reasons for the abandonment of Mesa Verde, Yucca House and Hovenweep.

The Tsegi Canyon may have been better for the people early on in the drought because each of the pueblos built in plenty of grain storage space as they were being built. Eventually, though, it got to be too much and some of the remaining people migrated to either the Hopi mesas or down the Colorado River to Havasupai.

Some went south to the Homolovi and Fourmile areas, too. Then again, the Kayenta migration has been seen to have gone further to the south, merged into the Salado culture and, through the pottery, been carried much further beyond.

Looking down on the sandstone alcove Betatakin is hidden in
Looking down on Betatakin from the canyon rim
Photos courtesy of the National Park Service
Map courtesy of Archaeology Southwest

Sites of the Ancients and approximate dates of occupation: