While the region is internationally known for its visually stunning cliff dwellings, the majority of the area’s archaeology is not found in the canyon systems. Instead, the mesa tops are covered with great houses, ancient roads, underground pit houses, villages, and shrines. To the untrained eye, these archaeological features can sometimes be hard to recognize, but their importance to science, as well as Tribal descendants is immense.
The majority of these sites have never been inventoried or studied by western archaeologists, and their preservation is important to all the peoples of the world. More than just a library of human history, this place remains vital to tribal communities across the Colorado Plateau as a place of subsistence, spirituality, healing, and contemplation. To learn about the threats to these sacred sites, click here.
Navajo and Ute peoples also lived across much of the Bears Ears region, leaving very old hogans, sweat lodges, tipi rings, and rock art panels. Navajo, Ute, and Paiute travelers also used formalized trails to travel across the landscape seasonally for hunting and ceremonies.