Video Quiz: Pueblo Voices: Migrations

Ethnography: Studying Culture

The Video: "Thirteenth Century Migrations"

Crow Canyon Archaeological Center

3:11 min; 2015

This short film is taken from a series created by the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center (Colorado) called “Voices: Perspectives on Pueblo History and Culture.” This is the introduction to the film series:

Pueblo Indians’ historical perspectives are shaped by their deep cultural heritage, kept alive through oral tradition. Archaeologists’ understanding of Pueblo history derives primarily from the application of the scientific method. In this series of videos, Pueblo people and archaeologists discuss aspects of Pueblo history and culture from their different—but often complementary—perspectives. (

Why this clip is important:

Archaeologists have long hypothesized that environmental stresses caused the ancestral Pueblo people to migrate from the area around Mesa Verde to points further south, where their descendants still live today. In this clip, we hear from an archaeologist who shares the latest thinking about why people migrated from Mesa Verde, suggesting that there was no single cause but a combination of factors that possibly include overhunting, drought, social and political conflict, and others. Contemporary Pueblo peoples have oral histories about why their ancestors moved, and we hear from two individuals who offer their own explanations. One of them suggests that factionalism, not environmental reasons, drove the migration. She also suggests that they “sang a song” so they could remember where they came from, emphasizing that contemporary Pueblos maintain a connection to the Mesa Verde region their ancestors left centuries ago. This clip proposes that archaeological and indigenous knowledges about the past can be complementary.