Preservation in action! The stabilization of Garcia Canyon Pueblito in northern New Mexico has begun! This significant site was acquired from private owners by the Conservancy in 2011 and is one of the few tangible remnants from the Gobernator Period (circa 1690-1780), a time of social and political upheaval. The site contains well-preserved petroglyphs and a midden, but the pueblito desperately needs to be stabilized.
From 1680 to 1775, various Puebloan people fled to the Navajo areas in northwestern New Mexico after the Spanish, having been driven out of New Mexico by the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, regained control in 1692. The pueblo influence became apparent in Navajo architecture, especially in multi-room wooden and masonry dwellings called pueblitos. There are more than 200 known pueblitos found in the Dinetah region in the Four Corners area. These pueblitos, or “small villages” were usually built on isolated boulders as defensive sites with low doors and small windows.
The Garcia Canyon site is an excellent representation of this type of archaeology. Using tree-ring dating, researchers determined that the first four rooms of this one-story pueblito were constructed in 1712, and additions continued until 1722, when the sixth through ninth rooms were added; the site was abandoned by 1730. Walls, doorways, and portions of the wooden roof beams are still intact. Built and occupied during a time when the neighboring Ute people were raiding the area, Garcia Canyon Pueblito sits atop a mesa in a defensive position, 70 feet above a canyon, with a commanding view to the north.
In 2012, a Structural Stabilization Plan was created by the San Juan County Museum Association/Division of Conservation Archaeology under contract by the Conservancy for the purpose of developing a preservation plan for Garcia Canyon. The procedures and methods of the stabilization plan for the site are based on observations made during an on-site inspection by Larry Baker during the spring of 2012. Mr. Baker is the Director and Principal Investigator at the Division of Conservation Archaeology of the San Juan County Archaeological Research Center and Library.
The plan was prepared to evaluate the condition of the sandstone masonry and detail the repairs needed to stabilize the site’s architecture. The structure is generally well-preserved; in select areas deterioration of the masonry has left the archaeological remains in a weakened condition, which can be attributed to a variety of natural erosive forces: wind, water, and human impacts, including vandalism and casual visitation. Stabilizing the archaeological remains is crucial for the successful long-term preservation of the pueblito’s structure as well as site environment. The plan calls for the minimum amount of stabilization necessary so the structure’s appearance and architectural fabric is not compromised.
Larry Baker and his team will be conducting the stabilization fieldwork for the course of the summer. This project has been funded through two grants. This project has been funded in part by a grant from the Southwest Intervention Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Additionally this project is funded by the State of New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs through the Historic Preservation grant program.
Jim Walker, the Conservancy’s Southwest Regional Director, states, “We are proud to be a part of this collaborative effort to restore Garcia Canyon Pueblito for future generations to study and enjoy. I would like to thank our partners, The National Trust for Historic Preservation, the New Mexico Historic Preservation Division and San Juan County Museum for their contributions to the project.”
Stabilization of the Garcia Canyon site will contribute to public knowledge about the site’s significance and the importance of cultural resource preservation. The preserve will be used as open space and protected against any future development. The site will also be made available for research under strict terms set by the Conservancy. The Conservancy will preserve the Garcia Canyon Pueblito site for posterity.
The project was recently covered by the Farmington Daily Times : Crews work to stabilize Garcia Canyon Pueblito on July 19, 2015