Wupatki Visiting Those Who Came Before Us

The Proper Function

Wuptaki National Monument

Wupatki (wuh-POT-kee) National Monument was established by President Calvin Coolidge on December 9, 1924. The monument includes several pueblos and other archeological resources totaling more than 35,000 acres. Wupatki represents a  cultural melting-pot, home to multiple groups of natives spanning several thousand years. Located in northern Arizona, Wupatki was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places on October 15, 1966. The listing included three buildings and twenty-nine structures. If you’re are near the Flagstaff area, this is a function is well worth the drive!

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Wuptaki History

In the Common Era (400 to 1700 CE) cultures were defined by farming, crafting pottery, pueblos, seasonal migration and the ability to sustain villages. Settlements in Wuptaki were established by 1100 CE which archeologists define as Sinagua, Cohonina and Kayenta. As you walk through this area, one can’t imagine how life flourished within one of the driest places on the Colorado Plateau. But, this was a complex settlement where natives would exchange goods as well as ideas that would allow them to prosper for many years.

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Let Her Blow

A blowhole is a small opening in the ground through which air will blow out or suck in—a kind of natural fan or vacuum. At Wupatki there are several known blowholes, one of which can be seen at the end of the Wupatki Pueblo interpretive trail. Research on blowholes in northern Arizona indicates that the openings connect with an extensive underground fracture system. Fractures open to the surface are locally known as “earth cracks,” which are some- times hundreds of feet deep. Before the masonry box was placed over the Wupatki blow- hole in 1965, spelunkers descended 18 feet down the very small opening. The blowhole proved to be a small opening to a large underground fracture too constricted to explore.

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Some geologists argue that there are caverns beneath some of the blowholes. Most scientists, how- ever, believe that the subsurface air space is confined to long, nar- row and interconnected fractures. Regardless, there is substantial underground space in this area. Measuring the amount of air blow- ing in and out of the blowhole near Wupatki Pueblo, research- ers estimated the underground air space to be seven billion cubic feet—equivalent to a tunnel 165 feet by 165 feet square and 50 miles long!

The Kiva

The round structure above was a special place utilized for rituals and ceremonies. Ironically, excavators found no evidence of a roof or floor structure which is typical of a kiva. Archeologists suspect that this structure served as a gathering place, perhaps for rituals, ceremonies, food distribution, strategizing and evolving their culture.

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It is within The Proper Function to sit amongst this area and listen to the voices of those who came before us!

“Every drop of water was precious, and there was never enough. From infancy we were taught to drink sparingly; even then, there were times when we were thirsty…Were the water supply to diminish and the population increase, what would become of the people?” – Helen Sekaquaptewa, Hopi

This Proper Function
(Approximate Data)
Arizona
52°
clear sky
humidity: 86%
wind: 3mph N
H 52 • L 51
80°
Thu
78°
Fri
66°
Sat
66°
Sun
Weather from OpenWeatherMap
F
Party Cloudy
2,315ftElevation 13.7hrsDistance From You
LocationFlagstaff
State, RegionArizona,North
Coordinates35.5197225°, -111.3712936°
DirectionsView on Google Maps
DifficultyEasy
WaterBring
DogsNo
HistoricYes
Time1 Hour

TPF

Dan is an explorer for The Outbound and founder of The Proper Function, an outdoor editorial. He is passionate about exploration and can’t stay put for more than a week.