What Is the History of the Bandelier National Monument?


Quick Answer

Nomadic hunter-gatherers came to Bandelier's mesas and canyons over 10,000 years ago. Later, it was inhabited by Ancestral Pueblo people from 1150 to 1550 CE. After they left, Spanish settlers built their homes in the Frijoles Canyon in the mid-1700s. In 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed legislation to designate Bandelier a National Monument and named it for Adolph Bandelier, a 19th-century anthropologist.

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Full Answer

Over 10,000 years ago, migrating wildlife brought nomadic hunter-gatherers to the mesas and canyons of Bandelier. By 1150 CE, ancestral Puebloans started building more permanent settlements in the cliffs. These dwellings were known as cavates and were built directly in the volcanic tuff. The Puebloans moved to Cochiti, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara and Santo Domingo along the Rio Grande by 1550 CE. Almost 200 years later, Spanish settlers with Spanish land grants started living in the Frijoles Canyon. In 1880, Juan Jose Montoya of Cochiti Pueblo showed his people's ancestral homeland in Frijoles Canyon to anthropologist Adolph F.A. Bandelier. Later, President Woodrow Wilson designated Bandelier a National Monument and named it for Adolph Bandelier.

During World War II, the park was closed to the public, and scientists working on the Manhattan Project and other military personnel stayed at the Bandelier lodge for several years.

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