Skip to main content

The Archaeology of Cultural Revitalization Movements, Pueblo

Professor Bruce Bradley

There are many theories relating to culture change.  I spent nine years doing excavations at an Ancestral Pueblo site in south western Colorado called Sand Canyon Pueblo.  The site was established in the mid-thirteenth century and was abandoned by A.D. 1280 as the result of violent conflict.  Great changes are seen in the archaeology of the region at the same time as establishment of the pueblo and this has been linked by some to environmental change.  

However, my take on this change is that it occurred through a process known as a Cultural Revitalization Movement; so named and described by noted anthropologist Anthony Wallace.  This process accounts for many cultural changes seen in early colonial times as native groups came into contact with the dominant Euro-American culture.  

Wallace analysed these cultural changes and developed a predictive model as to how the changes progressed.  There is no reason to suspect that the same mechanism was not happening in earlier times as well. I apply evidence from Sand Canyon Pueblo and the surrounding contemporary communities to describe a Cultural Revitalization Movement and even to identify its motivation, symbolic underpinning and ultimate failure, leading to the abandonment of the entire region by Pueblo people.