During our time near Sedona, Arizona, we visited Tuzigoot National Monument, which is located in the beautiful Verde Valley. From the road and Visitor’s Center, Tuzigoot looks like a typical desert hilltop. The short walk up an easily traversed path, however, reveals a massive stone-built structure with several stories containing rooms which served as home to numerous thriving communities dating back 13,000 years–thirteen thousand years.
The Visitor’s Center has in-depth information about the history of excavation of the site, including a display of pottery bits, hand-hewn weapons, and beautiful beaded jewelry found in the unearthing. In the early 1920s, archeologists Caywood and Spicer started the excavation of what Tuzigoot is today. The name was suggested by a Tonto Apache named Ben Lewis–Tu’ zighoot (pronounced TWO-zi-WHOODT) meaning crooked water. Caywood and Spicer mispronounced the name as Tu-ZI-goot which is nonsense in Apache, but the name sadly stuck. The local Yavapai tribal elders still call the area crooked water in their language, which is Aha Gahlahkvah. The area was home to several bands of peoples over the years, including the Hopi and Zuni, and is a place of great respect for the spirits of the many tribes who made Tuzigoot home as they migrated.
For Hopi, Tuzigoot is a place to reconnect with the past. It reminds us we survived and we became better people for it. We all need these types of places.
…Micah Loma’omvaya, The Hopi Tribe
What I found interesting is Tuzigoot was not a permanent home except for those who could no longer travel. It seemed to be a stop in a larger migration of Native American tribes and other ancient people.
Maybe being restless staying in one place is a human condition passed from generation to generation. There is so much to learn from the past and these migrating tribes. Their nomadic quests were for simple survival and the need for basic necessities such as food and water, but did the traveling spirit pass down to the current generation? Could our nomadic behavior be a carry-over from the ancient wanderers who have lived and thrived thousands of years before us?
…the people that used to live here are still thriving. They didn’t abandon their places, they are still connected spiritually.
…Jerome Zunie, Pueblo of Zuni
Tuzigoot brought up many more questions than it answered. I listened to the wind blowing through the desert fauna and watched the shadows of clouds moving over the mountains in search of whispers answering my many questions. I heard none that day, but I know they’re there.
Have you been to Tuzigoot? Do you think we’ve taken on behaviors for survival from our brave ancestors without knowing why we have the desire? Do you hear answers on the wind? Those are a lot of random questions, I know.
Safe travels, my nomadic friends.
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