“What remains of the Tusayan Ruins, dated to around A.D.1185, can still be seen today.”
— Nicholas Shannon
Welcome to Tusayan Pueblo Ruin. As you walk the relatively flat 0.1 mile (200 meter) trail around the village, keep in mind that no attempt has been made to reconstruct the structures. During the summer of 2001 with funding through the Vanishing Treasures program, park archeologists stabilized the ruin in an effort to protect it from ongoing degradation. Room blocks have been only partially excavated to allow you to experience an archeological site.
Please respect this place as you would your own home. Do not walk or stand on the walls or enter the rooms. Many stories of the past preserved here have yet to unfold. The rocks and relics tell the stories. The artifacts and the context in which they are found allow archeologists to interpret the lives of these people. Not only will disturbing the site destroy valuable information, it is illegal. The high desert vegetation is also fragile; stay on the trails.
What attracted people to settle here? Everyone needs food, water, and shelter. How were these needs met? Wild foods and game supplemented cultivated corn, beans, and squash. Inhabitants may have walked several miles to water or did other sources exist 800 years ago? How would you use the local resources to build your shelter? What would be its primary function? In a land of limited resources, how would you interact with your neighbors?
As you walk around the ruins, remember that the history of these people and their culture exists only through the artifacts found at this and similar sites and through the stories of their descendants. You'll notice that many statements in the brochure and on the signs begin with perhaps, it seems, or maybe. There are few definitive answers.
Flora & Fauna
The ancestral Puebloan people used the forest for their supermarket. PiÃ±on (top right) was used for construction, heating, and cooking. Pine needles, high in vitamin C, can be brewed as a tea. Its pitch was used to waterproof baskets, and even as a bandage to hold cuts together. Pine nuts are high in fat, protein, and carbohydrates.
Utah juniper (lower right) was also used for firewood. Its shreddy bark peeled readily and provided insulation, padding, or the sole of a sandal. Juniper berries could be eaten raw, but were more often used as a flavoring for stew or venison. Ashes of the scale-like leaves were added to bread as a leavening agent and for flavor.
Yucca provided fibers that could be twisted or braided into twine or rope or made into sandals. The flowers and seeds pods could be eaten. Some native people still use yucca root soap for ceremonial purposes.
History & Background
People have lived on the Colorado Plateau for thousands of years. The Paleo-Indians, nomadic hunter/gatherers who lived here 5,000-10,000 years ago, left the earliest evidence. The nomadic Archaic Cultures which followed produced split twig figurines which they hid in canyon caves. With the introduction of agriculture about 2000 years ago, villages (pueblos) like this one developed.
Tree ring studies indicate that people lived here for about twenty years beginning around A.D. 1185. The style of buildings and artifacts is typical of the ancestral Puebloan culture. This ruin is one of 4,300 archeological sites recorded within Grand Canyon National Park. Neighboring pueblos may indicate a cooperative effort among families.