Summer Solstice at Chaco Canyon

This weekend, I headed up to Chaco Culture National Historic Park on the summer solstice to see traditional dancers. The Friends of Native Cultures have been organizing the appearance of native dancers each solstice since 2000, and I’ve been lucky enough to be at four out of the last five (you can see photos from 2004, 2006, 2007, and there are lots more photos of Chaco Culture at the Traditions of the Sun Website.)

The dancers perform in the plaza of the great house of Pueblo Bonito. For those of you who’ve never been to Chaco Canyon, Pueblo Bonito is largest of all the great houses found in the park, with nearly six hundred rooms, and it was three stories in some parts. Pueblo Bonito was built around 1000 AD and was continually built on for a few hundred years afterward, until the Chacoans left the area in 13th Century. Pueblo Bonito is a truly dramatic setting and it is a very emotional experience for those who dance; Chaco is the home of their ancestors after all.

This year the group of dancers were from Acoma Pueblo (which is the oldest, continually inhabited community in the U.S.). Below are some photos from their two morning dances. There are a few more photographs, including high-resolution versions on the Ideum Flickr site.

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Dancing in the Plaza.

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Marking the start of summer.

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The two youngest dancers hold beautiful Acoma pottery.

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