CHACO CO-TRADITIONS

Gwinn Vivian


  The Co-Traditions scenario has the longest history among Chacoan models. The term emphasizes the mutual and continuing involvement of two long-lived traditions in the greater San Juan Basin. Unlike "multi-ethnic" or "ethnographic," Co-Traditions also conveys a sense of inherent transmittal of multiple cultural elements, including organizational strategies. It's genesis is traced to the 1930s debates on the efficacy of the Pecos Classification when Hawley's dendrochronological and ceramic studies at Tseh So (Bc 50) and Chetro Ketl established their contemporaneity, thereby providing a "vivid example" (of the) "spurts and lags that produced very uneven levels of culture over the area during a single century" (1937:115). Kluckhohn's subsequent work at Bc 51 reinforced Hawley's observations and led him to evaluate two explanations. One envisioned continuous occupation over several centuries of a culturally homogeneous group differentiated only by a "greater richness in cultural inventory" in great houses "implying a culture of greater complexity ... and more specialization of labor." Small house dwellers were "either 'poor relations" or conservatives..." (1939:157). Alternatively, Kluckhohn posited that small house populations were not "precisely the same cultural tradition" (158) but "migrants from another region...(with a) somewhat less advanced cultural heritage drawn to the Chaco by the prosperity of its inhabitants, ... magnificence and power of their ceremonialism, or ... the protection which these populous towns could offer" (159). He conjectured that they "might even have spoken a different language" (159).

  Gordon Vivian revived the dormant Kluckhohn premise in 1965 in his discussion of "Parallel Developments" in The Three-C Site report. The same year, he and T. Mathews more thoroughly evaluated "The Contemporaneous Community" in the Kin Kletso report, adding a third tradition (or "phase"), the McElmo. Three "differing phases of Anasazi development and tradition" were identified "on the basis of differing architectural traditions, some variation in ceremonial pattern and on possibly different adaptations to the environment ..." (1965:108). The Bonito and Hosta Butte phases were "the end products of long developing traditions in place" (110); the Bonito from basic San Juan traditions, the Hosta Butte possibly from Little Colorado traditions. The McElmo represented late site intrusitons from the northern San Juan Basin. Several basic Co-Traditions elements were defined or implied in the Kin Kletso report. Architecture played a critical role, the concept of community was introduced, the assumption that both small houses and great houses were domestic structures was reinforced, and there was general acceptance of a central canyon population of four to five thousand persons. It was implied that Bonito and Hosta Butte cultural development was relatively equally paced until the mid 1100s when the implementation of water control systems by great house populations may have triggered canyon-wide agricultural and ritual control by "the larger and more specialized group of the developing Bonito phase" (110).

  In 1970, Gwinn Vivian accepted the Vivian and Mathews tri-partite community and population estimates, focused on contrasting the Bonito and Hosta Butte (excluding McElmo sites) communities from approximately A.D. 1030-1130, and proposed that they reflected the "operation of two different systems of social organization" (1970:61). Expanding on Gordon Vivian's links between water control systems and community diversity, he argued that great house communal investment in water control reinforced integrative mechanisms in the organizational base of town social systems, which he proposed were dual division residence units characterized by nonexogamous moieties with a bilocal residence pattern. Social cohesion was achieved by moiety sharing of governmental and ceremonial responsibilties and by moiety crrss-cutting sodalities. Villages were residence units of uxorilocal and exogamous corporate localized lineages.

  Gwinn Vivian's scenario was influenced by two Puebloan ethnographers, E. Dozier (1960) and A. Ortiz (1969), who argued that (1) variability in eastern and western pueblo social organization could be explained by differences in agricultural practices, (2) kinship played no role at the community level in Tewa pueblos, (3) there was no evidence that the Tewa ever had a unilineal rule of descent, and (4) Tewa dual division type associations had great antiquity. Accepting Lekson's (1984) argument that McElmo pueblos were in the great house tradition and not site intrusions, he utilized G. Johnson's (1982) concept of simultaneous and sequential hierarchies to further develop the Co-Traditions scenario (1990). Architectural/settlement variability was interpreted as a manifestation of two essentially egalitarian and originally geographically distinct sociopolitical bodies, the San Juan and Cibola, that evolved along different trajectories in the central Basin. Strong settlement/agricultural (dry/akchin/dune vs. runoff irrigation) correlates were proposed. Small house sites, domiciles of localized lineages, were clustered in communities of cooperating lineages with affinal and other ties to member units. Similar ties to adjacent great houses, if present, was presumed. Aggregates of small house communities linked by social, political, economic, or religious ties may have occurred. Great houses were autonomous political units, each the domicile of multiple households organized as a single corporate body on the basis of dualism embodied within a rotating sequential hierarchy. This variation on Johnson's sequential hierarchy involved decision making rotated from one maximal set of incorporated basal units to another on a regular sequential cycle, rather than periodic transfer from several minimal basal units to a larger unit. The rotational process was enhanced and achieved through the principle of duality which provided greater potential for maintaining larger group size long-term because corporate action in one or more spheres is invested in dual units, rather than in the lineage, thereby reducing opportunties for fissioning along lineage lines. When population growth pushes a rotating sequential hierarchy beyond the limits of efficiency, fissioning or the development of a simultaneous hierarchy may occur.

  Aspects of both options characterize late 11th century great house response to continuing fluctuations in precipitation and population exceeding Chaco Core carrying capacity. The simultaneous and related emergence of outliers and roads represent controlled fissioning and embryonic pan-great house coordinated decision making. Outliers siphoned excess canyon populations to more productive zones at the Basin periphjeries; roads served as symbolic tethers and tangible facilities for linking colonies to mother pueblos. Standarization in road construction and late great house design suggests more formal links (e.g. Nelson's [1995] "collaborative chiefdoms") between previously autonomous great houses. Spielmann's (1993) "clustered confederacies" concept may explicate this process. Obligations of a canyon-based great house confederacy could have expanded (possibly through pan-great house esoteric associations) from resolving canyon competition for runoff to Core-wide population displacement in the interests of all participating confederacy members.


References Cited

Dozier, Edward P.
1960 The Pueblos of the South-western United States. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute of Great Britain and Ireland 90(I-II):146-160.

Hawley, Florence M.
1937 The Place of Tseh So in the Chaco Culture Pattern. In Tseh So, a Small House Ruin, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico: Preliminary Report by D. D. Brand, et al. pp. 115-119. University of New Mexico Bulletin, Anthropological Series 2 (2).

Johnson, Gregory A.
1982 Organizational Structure and Scalar Stress. In Theory and Explanation in Archaeology: the Southhampton Conference, edited by Colin Renfrew et al. pp. 389-421. Academic Press, New York.

Kluckhohn, Clyde
1939 Discussion. In Preliminary Report on the 1937 Excavations: Bc 50-51, Chaco Canyon, New Mexico, edited by Clyde Kluckhohn and Paul Reiter, pp. 151-162. University of New Mexico Bulletin 345, Anthropological Series 3(2).

Lekson, Stephen H.
1984 Great Pueblo Architecture of Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Publications in Archeology 18-B. Chaco Canyon Studies. National Park Service, Albuquerque.

Nelson, Ben A.
1995 Complexity, Hierarchy, and Scale: A Controlled Comparison between Chaco Canyon, New Mexico and La Quemada, Zacatecas. American Antiquity 60(4):579-618.

Ortiz, Alfonso
1965 The Tewa World: Space, Time, Being, and Becoming in a Pueblo Society. University of Chicago Press.

Spielmann, Katherine A.
1994 Clustered Confederacies: Sociopolitical Organization in the Protohistoric Rio Grande. In The Ancient Southwestern Community, edited by W. H. Wills and Robert D. Leonard, pp. 45-54. University of New Mexico Press.

Vivian, R. Gordon
1965 The Three-C Site, an Early Pueblo II Ruin in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. University of New Mexico Publications in Anthropology 13.

Vivian, R. Gordon and Tom W. Mathews
1965 Kin Kletso: A Pueblo III Community in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. Southwestern Monuments Association, Technical Series 6(1). Globe, Arizona.

Vivian, R. Gwinn
1970 An Inquiry into Prehistoric Social Organization in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico. In Reconstructing Prehistoric Pueblo Societies, edited by William A. Longacre, pp. 59-83. School of American Research, Advanced Seminar Series. University of New Mexico Press.
1990 The Chacoan Prehistory of the San Juan Basin. Academic Press.San Diego.

Gwinn Vivian
Arizona State Museum, U of A
(520) 621-4500 FAX (520) 621-2976 e.mail - rgv@vms.ccit.arizona.edu




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