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National Monument
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Ceremonial Cave
Ceremonial Cave, reached by a series of ladders
extending 150 feet above the floor of Frijoles Canyon.

IN THE PICTURESQUE CANYON and mesa country of the Pajarito Plateau, west of the Rio Grande from Santa Fe, N. Mex., are found the ruined dwellings of one of the most extensive prehistoric Indian populations of the Southwest. Bandelier National Monument, in the heart of the plateau, includes and protects several of the largest of these ruins, in particular the unique cave and cliff dwellings in the canyon of the Rito de los Frijoles.

The Indian farmers who built and occupied the numerous villages of the Pajarito Plateau flourished there for some 300 years, beginning in the 1200's. By A. D. 1540, when historic times open with the coming of Coronado and his adventurers from Mexico, the Indian people had already started to leave their canyon fastnesses for new homes on the Rio Grande.

From all evidence it seems that modern Pueblo Indians living along the Rio Grande today are descended in part from the ancient inhabitants of the Pajarito area. Thus Bandelier National Monument preserves ruins which link historic times to prehistoric, and which further link the modern Pueblo Indian with his ancestors from regions to the west, whence came the first migrants to the Bandelier environs. The continuity of Pueblo life traces from origins in northwest New Mexico and the Mesa Verde country of southwest Colorado, through the Bandelier region, to the living towns of Cochiti to the south, San Ildefonso to the northeast, and other local Indian communities.


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Last Modified: Sat, Jan 6 2001 10:00:00 am PDT