The stories of the Ancestral Puebloans are still told by their descendants in their native tongues. But it wouldn't be understandable to the ancestors because of the change of time. Languages are living, evolving things. People and their clans migrate. Intermarriage happens. Among the Rio Grande Pueblos, the pueblo a couple miles downstream might speak a very different language, based on where their forefathers might have migrated from so many hundred years ago.
Today, we trace the evolution of the Puebloans through their migrations: pottery styles, decorations, clan symbols, translations from oral histories and archaeological findings. I find the migration stories really interesting, especially how they are usually supported by following the migration of designs on wall murals, pottery and textiles.
So the question on my end is: How far back do I go? In this section of Eyesofthepot, I've so far opted to go back about 9,000 years, to the roots of the Picosa culture. Should I later decide to get more into the Clovis culture, that would take me back to about 14,000 years ago.
The "Picosa Culture" is an encapsulation of three separate instances of similar lifestyles, housing and burial practices spread across the Southwestern states and northern Mexico. These three instances: Pinto Basin (Pi), Cochise Tradition (co), and San Jose (sa), make up the word "Picosa."
Pinto Basin seems to be incorporated within the boundaries of Joshua Tree National Park in southern California. If that's the correct Pinto Basin, that would indicate the model includes projectile points found at a Pinto Culture site in the central Mojave Desert dated to be between 4,000 and 8,000 years old. The older the actual time frame, the wetter the local climate.
The Cochise Tradition is tied to the area of now dry Lake Cochise, in the Willcox Playa of southern Arizona. The Tradition lasted from about 7,000 years ago to about 2,200 years ago. Archaeologists have broken the Tradition further into three phases, based on discernable changes in projectile point and food processing technology: the Sulphur Spring (7,000 to 5,500 years ago), the Chiricahua (5,500 to 3,500 years ago) and the San Pedro (3,500 to 2,200 years ago).
I'm still working on the "San Jose" bit of this.
The following sequence of events, first proposed by archaeologist Cynthia Irwin-Williams, defines no fewer than six phases of occupation of Ancient Puebloan sites in the Four Corners area, each identified by projectile point forms and other less well defined artifacts. These, more northern incarnations of the Picosa culture are encapsulated in the Oshara Tradition.
The Santa Clara people first built the dwellings at Puye in Santa Clara Canyon on the eastern slopes of the Jemez Mountains around 1200 CE. The structures were completely abandoned around 1600 CE when the Santa Clarans moved further down the hill to where the Santa Clara River meets the Rio Grande. Most of the other Tewa people had made a centuries-long stop in Frijoles Canyon on the Pajarito Plateau before moving on to settle where they are now.