Sedona Westerners Treated To A Tour Of Sinagua Sites: Tuzigoot And Hatalacva

April 1, 2016

Paul Cooley
By Paul Cooley

On February 24th, Dr. Jim Graceffa, President of the Verde Valley Archaeological Center, graciously and generously guided the Sedona Westerners Tracker hikers on a tour into the past which included a National Park Service tour of Tuzigoot National Monument and of another lesser known site named Hatalacva I and II.

Graceffa explained to the Westerners that all of these sites were part of what is known as the Honanki-Tuzigoot Phase of the Southern Sinagua prehistory occupation of the Verde Valley, meaning that the places toured were occupied probably between 1130 and 1400 CE (current era).

Members of the Sedona Westerners hiking group recently observed the layout of the 110-room pueblo at Tuzigoot National Monument. Some of the original rooms were constructed on a second story. Most of the buildings comprising Tuzigoot today were reconstructed in the 1930s. Photo by Paul Cooley.

At Tuzigoot the Westerners observed the layout of the 110 room Pueblo, some of the original rooms which were constructed on a second story. The group entered the highest point in the Monument, which is a reconstructed room with wood beams supporting an upper floor with a commanding view of nearby Peck's Lake, the Verde River and the surrounding environs. Most of the buildings comprising Tuzigoot today were reconstructed in the 1930s with Portland Cement used to bond the original limestone rocks together. The National Parks tour guide explained to the Westerners that the original reconstruction did not fair well and so over the years, and continuing into present times, the cement is being replaced with a material closer to what was originally used by the Sinagua, to give the reconstruction a truer appearance to the original.

It was also explained to the group that "Tuzigoot" is an Apache word meaning "crooked water", which like Montezuma Castle and Montezuma Well, is a misnomer, since Tuzigoot was not an Apache habitation just as Montezuma, the last Aztec ruler of Mexico, never set foot in Arizona, let alone the Verde Valley.

Dr. Graceffa, along with the accompaniment of Jerry Walters, former Sedona Westerners Cliff Walker and current Cultural Resource Coordinator for Friends of the Forest, Sedona, led the caravan of Westerners to the base of Hatalacva I and II, which constitute unrestored Southern Sinagua ruins contemporaneous with Tuzigoot. This location is on private property owned by the Archaeological Conservancy, from whom Graceffa had received permission for the Westerner group to enter on to it for a limited period of time on the day of their visit.

Hatalacva II consists of approximately 97 rooms, Graceffa stated. Hatalacva I was approximately 100 feet below its sister habitation and was considerable smaller. In addition to perusing the general layout of the Pueblo, the Westerners were able to see where there had once been a plaza that looked to the southeast off the mesa, where there is an ox-bow lake and part of Peck's Lake. The plaza, they were told, was probably used for ceremonial purposes and public gatherings.

Graceffa has been the site steward of Hatalacva I and II for over 20 years. He tells the depressing story of how he and a number of dedicated volunteers had spent a long day surveying the Hatalacva site by placing survey flags next to surface artifacts which were to be identified and cataloged the next day and then left in place. Unfortunately, overnight, trespassing thieves had entered on the property and illegally appropriated many of the artifacts that the volunteers had flagged, the flagging acting as an unwitting aid to the thieves.

Sometime in the late 1990's a fisherperson discovered portions of human remains below the Hatalacva site that were leeching out into the Verde River. Upon examination, Graceffa explained, the bodies appeared to be that of a woman and a young child. The jaw of both skeletons were apparently purposely stained blue and green. Near the body of the child was found a mano or stone used to grind seeds and corn as well as an ancient bowl, jar and some possible textile material that may have been used as part of a burial. It was explained that these remains may well have been associated with the occupation of Hatalacva.

After descending the site of the ruins, the Westerners adjourned to nearby Clarkdale to have lunch in the city center park and discuss their journey into the past at Tuzigoot and Hatalacva before returning to the Posse Grounds in Sedona, where they had begun the day.

If you are interested in joining the club, visit the Sedona Westerners website or just come to one of our monthly meetings. The next one will be on Thursday, April 14, 2016 at 7 pm at Saint John Vianney Parish 180 St. John Vianney Lane in Sedona.


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