Sunday, May 16, 2010

Slickhorn Canyon

Slickhorn Canyon offers an alternative for those who are interested in the Anasazi Ruins of Cedar Mesa but want more solitude than Grand Gulch can offer. The ruins are not as extensive as those in Grand Gulch, but Slickhorn does have one bonus: an almost perfectly preserved kiva, with the original roof still completely intact.

The Anasazi kivas are of special interest to anthropologists who study Indian cultures of the Southwest. Every Anasazi community seems to have had one of them, and the basic architecture has endured for centuries. Kiva-like structures have been around for at least 1300 years, and they still exist today in a few modern Indian cultures.

The kiva in First Fork, though 700 years old, is almost identical to a modern Hopi kiva. Notice, for instance, the small hole in the center of the floor. Similar holes appear in the seventh century pithouse kivas of Mesa Verde, as well as in present-day Hopi kivas. The Hopis, who call the hole a sipapu, or spirit hole, believe it is an entrance to the underworld. They believe that their ancestors entered and exited our world through a sipapu.

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