‘Summer Youth in Action’ students visit Crow Canyon

Students looking at various pottery shards at Ute Mountain Tribal Park.
Julian White, Nate Hendren, and Cyrus Naranjo helping rebuild a Wickiup with the high school ‘field school’ students.
Left side – Elliott Hendren, Julian White, Ayden Barry, Right side – Dewayne Hendren, Nate Hendren, and Angelo Frost listening the directions on using an Atlatl.
Toph Pinnecoose, Kaya Bison, Aspen Naranjo, and Tylee Pinnecoose trying their hands at pottery.
Nathaniel Baker-Valdez checking off his scavenger hunt list as he makes his way through Canyon of the Ancients.
From left to right – Toph Pinnecoose, Aspen Naranjo, Kaya Bison, and Tylee Pinnecoose participating in the scavenger hunt at Canyon of the Ancients National Monument.
Students in the Pithouse discussing its features and why those features were important to its occupants.
Students getting a lesson on braiding twine by Cyrus Naranjo.
Aspen Naranjo, Tylee Pinnecoose, Kaya Bison, and Toph Pennecoose taking turns trying to make fire in the Pithouse.
Dorian K. R. Morris | SU Education Dept.
Dorian Morris | SU Education Dept.
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum
Robert L. Ortiz | The Southern Ute Drum

As part of the Southern Ute Education Department’s summer enrichment program, 15 students ages 9-14 years-old, participated in visiting and staying at Crow Canyon Archaeological Center in Cortez, Colo. During this program, students learned about ancient Native American lifestyles, experienced flintknapping and pottery, constructed Wickiups, visited the Canyons of the Ancients National Monument and the Ute Mountain Tribal Park. They cooled off in the Cortez outdoor pool, and enjoyed playing hide and seek, and other fun games outdoors.

Learning about ancient Native American lifestyles turned our students into detectives as they worked in groups to identify artifacts from several different time periods.  After examining the artifacts and discussing what they found with their groups, they figured out the order of the time periods. They did an amazing job working together to rebuild Wickiups on the campus of Crow Canyon with another group of students from Field School who came from all over the United States. The boys watched a flintknapping demonstration and practiced their hunting skills with an Atlatl, as well as bows and arrows. The girls tried their hand at pottery, and made their own pieces of pottery to take home. This proved to be the favorite activity of the girls because they wanted to make pottery every day!

The students continued their learning and exploring when we visited the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument. They watched a film on archaeological history in the Four Corners area, including how Mesa Verde became a National Park, and learned about visiting archaeological sites and national monuments with respect. They explored the museum and participated in a scavenger hunt to identify different artifacts. This is a great place for kids to explore artifacts because they have many tactile displays that students can touch and move, read about, and explore.  After returning to Crow Canyon, the students learned to make fire and twine while sitting in the campus Pithouse, and learning about the structure and purpose of the Pithouse and all of its features.

The last day’s adventure took the students to the Ute Mountain Tribal Park for a tour. Students connected with the rock art and landscape, as the tour guide told them stories of the land and the people that lived there. He also told them about the ancient pottery shards and the different time periods from which they came, the structures that resided there and how the people used them, including showing them an ancient Kiva site.

This trip was a great opportunity for our students to make stronger connections to the area in which they live and to the history that connects them to this land. From our observations the students did make connections to ancient Native American lifestyles when they rebuilt the Wickiups, experienced the flintknapping and pottery, and while visiting the Canyon of the Ancients National Monument and Ute Mountain Tribal Park. They also had fun while learning, which can help deepen the connections the students made during their week of exploration.

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