Anasazi State Park Museum Open Year-Round to Educate, Enlighten – Press Release 9/7/2003

DATE 9/07/2003 2:33 PM

This is part of an occasional series by the Sanpete Country Travel and Utah Heritage Highway 89 Alliance on the people and places along U.S. Highway 89. The Heritage Highway.

Anasazi State Park Museum Open Year-Round to Educate, Enlighten

Mike Nelson never tires of telling visitors to the Anasazi State Park Museum about the Ancestral Pueblo people who once occupied the surrounding land.Good thing. With more than 35,000 people stopping by the park and museum each year, Nelson does quite a bit of talking about the Ancestral Pueblo people and their history. “The majority of those who come by are first-time visitors,” Nelson says.

The museum is located in Anasazi State Park in Boulder, Utah, just off of U.S. Highway 89 and State Roads 12 and 24. State Road 12 was recently deemed an All-American Road, one of only about 18 such roads in the country, and U.S. Highway 89 has been proposed for historical designation. The designation will allow for continued preservation and increased tourism in regions along the highway from Kanab in the south and Fairview in the north and include the counties of Sanpete, Sevier, Wayne, Garfield, Piute and Kane, as well as the Boulder Loop. It will also likely bring more visitors to the museum Nelson has managed for three years.

But he welcomes the opportunity to educate and enlighten even more people about the Ancestral Pueblo people and their way of life. “There are things here for people to see that are 900 years old, such as artifacts and posts and parts of walls from the original villages that once stood here,” Nelson says.

What is now Anasazi State Park was once one of the largest Anasazi communities west of the Colorado River. The site is believed to have been occupied from A.D. 1050 to 1200. The village remains largely unexcavated, but many artifacts have been uncovered and are on display in the museum. The museum includes hands-on exhibits, microscopes visitors can use to examine artifacts, an auditorium with rotating exhibits, and artifacts and replicas of Anasazi life and villages. The site of the park and museum was first excavated in the 1950s, and the museum built in 1970 and remodeled in 1995.

Nelson and his staff work year-round, keeping the museum open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the summer months and from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the winter.

Among the interesting stories and history lessons that Nelson can tell visitors is why the state park and the name of the tribe of people who once lived on the land differ. Anasazi is a Navajo word interpreted to mean ancient enemies, enemy ancestors or ancient ones. During the 15th and 16th centuries, the Navajo arrived in what is now the southwestern United States. Ancestors of their foe, the modern Pueblo Indians, inhabited the area prior to the Navajo.

“There are 19 Pueblo tribes today who are all recognized as descendants of the Anasazi people,” Nelson said. For that reason, and the fact that the Pueblo Indians are known for being very peaceful people, the name Ancestral Pueblo is a much more accurate term, he says.

The Anasazi State Park Museum
Open seven days a week 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during summer months 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. during winter months (435) 335-7308

For more information Contact:Monte Bona
Sanpete County Travel and Heritage Council
(435) 462-2502
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