trails and roads led visitors in and out of Chaco Canyon from great
distance that included Meso America (now Mexico), the Gulf of California,
and probably from the Pacific Coast (now California). Goods passed from
one village to the next – not always the same trader making the entire
is how a trade network develops across vast distances – a California
trader may carry a steatite bowl from Catalina Island inland to the
Mojave villages where he trades for cotton not grown along the coast.
The Mojave woman may trade the steatite bowl to a guest visiting from
the Gulf of California who takes it home to his wife. She in turn sells
the steatite bowl to a local woman who has an excess of shell beads.
Then she may send her brother to what is now the Arizona adobe city
near Phoenix with shell beads from the Gulf of California. Then another
trader from Anasazi territory, what is now New Mexico, may bring turquoise
to trade for those shells and then on his return, stop in Chaco Canyon
to trade the shells for exquisitely carved turquoise that the Chacoans
are famous for creating. Then that turquoise may be traded to someone
visiting from what is now Mexico who brings north parrot feathers to
trade for the turquoise. On the next trip east the New Mexican trader
takes the parrot feathers with him to Chaco to trade for more turquoise.
And so the good moved around the Southwest.
of this trade network is the presence of non-local items at the ruin
sites. For example, it is estimated that only 20% of the pottery used
at Chaco Canyon was made there – all of the rest was imported from other
tribes. Scientists know this because only 20% of the pottery found is
in the local Cibola black-on-white style.
of Black on White Cibola Pottery
found at Pueblo Bonito
of jewelry have been found in Chaco Canyon – more than at other Southwestern
sites. But the materials used in the jewelry were not local – the shells
came from the Gulf of California or the Pacific, the turquoise came
from mines further east in New Mexico.
And the imagery of tropical parrots, and the fact they were kept
in many pueblos as ceremonial harbingers of rain, demonstrates that
trade with the tropical forests of Mexico took place. Copper bells,
made of a metal from Mexico, have also been found in Chaco Canyon.