Navajo National Monument, was established on March 20, 1909. The Monument covers some 600 acres. For over 1300 years, the San Juan Basin in Colorado, New Mexico, Utah and Arizona was occupied by people called the Anasazi, after the Navajo word meaning "ancient enemies, or "enemies of my ancestors". Some people say that the meaning of Anasazi is the "Ancient Ones", but I believe the literal translation from Navajo is Ancient Enemies. Agriculture was an important part of their economy. Gradually, three distinct cultural centers emerged: Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado, Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico and Kayenta in northeastern Arizona.
During the 12th. and 13th. centuries, the small villages in this vast area began to combine into a few large villages. During this time, the household crafts reached their peak of artistic expression, especially the Anasazi's pottery. The three great cliff dwellings of Navajo National Monument mark the culmination of Anasazi culture in the Kayenta area.
By about 1300, the Anasazi had abandoned their homes and fields. It is presumed that they left because of a long drought, that plagued the area during this time. (tree ring data has shown a decade of drought conditions).It is believed that the inhabatants of Mesa Verde and Chaco Canyon, migrated to the southeast, to more fertile lands along the Rio Grande. It is also believed that the Anasazi of the Kayenta area, moved south to the Hopi Mesas. The Hopi Indians, are believed to be the decendants of the Anasazi, and still carry on their traditional beliefs and customs. Perhaps they can give us a vivid picture of pueblo life as it was some 700 years ago at Betatakin, Keet Seel and Inscription House.