Tuzigoot National Monument – Verde Valley, Arizona
Tuzigoot National Monument, Arizona – We stopped at Tuzigoot National Monument on a chilly 42º November day as we made our way to spend a few nights in Sedona, Arizona.
Tuzigoot (Apache for “crooked water”) is the remnant of a Southern Sinagua village built between 1125 and 1400.
It crowns the summit of a long ridge that rises 120 feet above the Verde Valley. The original pueblo was two stories high in places, with 77 ground-floor rooms. There were few exterior doors; entry was by way of ladders through openings in the roofs.
The village began a a small cluster of rooms inhabited by about 50 persons for 100 years. In the 1200s the population doubled and then doubled again as refugee farmers, fleeing drought in outlying areas, settled here.
While Christopher Columbus was busily sailing the ocean blue, villages all over the southwest were deserted and whole people groups would mysteriously disappear from the face of the earth.
According to archaeologist’s best guess, it would seem that there was a very prolonged drought which forced ancient native peoples to displace in their quest for water.
As we explored the 900 year old Sinagua ruins, we were taken back by the thought that these structures are some of the oldest preserved dwellings that we have in North America.
While certainly not as elaborate as their contemporary European counterparts, there seemed to be an attraction to the simplicity of these peoples lives. Furthermore, it was readily apparent, as it has been down through the ages, that drought can have a significant impact on a population.
As I write this article, Arizona is currently just perhaps pulling out of a decade long drought. However, with our modern dams and reservoir systems, we are able to collect rains and snow-melt and distribute life-giving waters through hundreds of miles of aqueduct systems built all over the southwest.
Carol may look like she is whipping us up some mesquite flour tortillas, but don’t let her fool you – we have reservations for dinner at a nice Sedona restaurant later in the day.
As you head to Jerome, Sedona, or the wineries in Arizona’s Verde Valley, take an hour to explore these ancient ruins and give some consideration to the luxury of our lives as compared to the simple lives of the ancient Sinagua.