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“Bite-Size Bits of Local, National, and Global History”

Near Cortez in Montezuma County, Colorado — The American Mountains (Southwest)
 

Southwest Survival

 
 
Southwest Survival Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 10, 2020
1. Southwest Survival Marker
Inscription.  Dryland Farming The first workable system for farming Colorado's dry southwestern plateau emerged near here some 2,000 years ago. Over the next twelve centuries, ancient farmers gradually developed a series of techniques — water storage, plant breeding, precise planting cycles, and (beginning around A.D. 900) check-dam irrigation — to coax crops from the desert. What they couldn't control through technology, they sought to influence through ritual and prayer. These early farmers planted smaller fields and reaped thinner harvests than their modern-day counterparts, but the magnitude of their accomplishments cannot be overestimated. In addition to building the first settlements in present-day Colorado, they perfected a model for dryland farming.

Even with the technology of the twenty-first century, this is not an easy land to master. Surviving here with first-century technology required toughness, ingenuity, and faith. The extremes of temperature and scarcity of water helped shape the culture of ancient populations; they, in turn, brought their culture to bear on the land. From the sixth century on, local populations
Southwest Survival Marker image. Click for full size.
By Duane and Tracy Marsteller, July 10, 2020
2. Southwest Survival Marker
farmed extensively, and by the tenth century their small check-dams and reservoirs provided water to help make these acres fertile. They also developed weaving, yucca ropes, and crafted turquoise jewelry. Throughout the period, they conducted a brisk trade with neighbors to acquire whatever the earth or their inventiveness could not provide. What little they had to work with, these primeval pioneers worked to perfection — they survived in this harsh land for more than a thousand years.

Captions
Left: Black and-white pottery found near Cortez. The pottery styles, from left to right, are Piedra, Cortez, and Mancos, and all date between A.D. 900 and 1100. Colorado Historical Society
Right: Using efficient and ingenious techniques, the ancestral Puebloans were able to create a sustainable agricultural system that lasted for over a thousand years. Courtesy National Park Service
 
Erected 1998 by Colorado Historical Society and Colorado Department of Transportation.
 
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: AgricultureEnvironmentNative Americans.
 
Location. 37° 21.195′ N, 108° 26.623′ W. Marker is near Cortez, Colorado
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, in Montezuma County. Marker can be reached from U.S. 160, on the right when traveling west. Marker is located in the Sleeping Ute Mountain Rest Area about six miles east of Cortez. Touch for map. Marker is in this post office area: Cortez CO 81321, United States of America. Touch for directions.
 
Other nearby markers. At least 8 other markers are within 4 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Mesa Verde Country (here, next to this marker); Four Corners (here, next to this marker); Cortez (here, next to this marker); Water is Our Story (approx. 3.3 miles away); Greening the Valley (approx. 3.3 miles away); Water Technology (approx. 3.3 miles away); Preserving the McElmo Creek Flume (approx. 3.3 miles away); Mancos Valley (approx. 3.8 miles away). Touch for a list and map of all markers in Cortez.
 
 
Credits. This page was last revised on July 24, 2020. It was originally submitted on July 23, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. This page has been viewed 51 times since then. Photos:   1, 2. submitted on July 23, 2020, by Duane Marsteller of Murfreesboro, Tennessee. • Andrew Ruppenstein was the editor who published this page.
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Jan. 25, 2021