CRIA Lecture Series: Seventh-century farmers of the southwest


By Nadia Werby

Special to The SUN

Chimney Rock Interpretive Association (CRIA) is proud to host a special presentation on Thursday, March 14, by Archaeologist Shanna Diederichs about the influx of farmers into southwest Colorado in the seventh century.

The lecture is free of charge and will begin at 7 p.m., following CRIA’s social hour at 6 p.m. at The Springs Resort and Spa (EcoLuxe building) located at 165 Hot Springs Blvd.

By the sixth and seventh centuries A.D., new territories in the San Juan Region of southwest Colorado and northwest New Mexico opened for the first time to agricultural colonization. Frontier colonization is, by nature, a contentious process that usually results in factioning, violence and displacement.

In contrast, the San Juan Region saw an unprecedented period of peace and integration during colonization. This peace appears to have been achieved with new and revitalized social institutions represented by great kivas, large central pithouses and sipapu ritual features. These institutions were especially important at community centers such as Shabik’eshee Ruin in Chaco Canyon and likely gave rise to quintessential Pueblo institutions still alive today.

Diederichs is the supervisory archaeologist and project director of the Basketmaker Communities Project with Crow Canyon. She has a master’s in anthropology from Northern Arizona University and an undergraduate degree in anthropology from the University of Colorado. She has worked as an archaeologist on projects throughout the southwest and in destinations such as Alaska and southern Egypt. Crow Canyon’s Basketmaker Communities Project is a multiyear research initiative in southwest Colorado focused on community development in early agricultural society.

You can learn more about how to get involved in CRIA and Chimney Rock National Monument at the Chimney Rock Open House on March 22 at the Ruby M. Sisson Memorial Library from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. There will be a host of CRIA volunteers on hand who are eager to introduce guests to the variety of roles that support this unique program and the flexibility in level of commitment. Some of the volunteer positions include visitor cabin host, mesa host, tour guide and maintenance crew.

CRIA offers a great, in-depth training program in a fun environment to anyone interested in joining our amazing team of volunteers. This year volunteer training will take place on April 26 at the PLPOA Vista Clubhouse at 230 Port Ave.

CRIA is a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization that runs the daily operations and interpretive program at Chimney Rock National monument in partnership with the USDA Forest Service and the San Juan National Forest. For more information, see the CRIA website at or call 731-7133.