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Family Life at Mesa Verde

Family Life at Mesa Verde

This Ancestral Puebloan family (left) is wearing hides, warm footwear, and feather-cloth robes for winter. The turkey was important in their economy-providing food, feathers used in weaving, and bones used for tools.

Archeology has yielded some facts about Mesa Verde’s ancient people, but without a written record we cannot be sure about their social, political, or religious ideas. For insight into these, we must rely on comparisons with modern Pueblo people of New Mexico and Arizona.

During the Classic Period at Mesa Verde (A.D. 1100 to A.D. 1300) several generations probably lived together as a household. Each family occupied several rooms and built additional rooms as the family grew. Several related families constituted a clan, which was probably matrilineal, tracing descent through the female line. If the analogy with current Hopi practice is correct, each clan would have had its own kiva and rights to its own agricultural plots.

(Information courtesy of the National Park Service; Illustration by NPS/Roy Andersen)

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