The Cedar Mesa Project
A Lexicon of Local Words
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This region has a number of unique words and names; here is a brief list of
some common ones plus some archeological terminology to help get you
Select a letter from the following table to go to the section with
- Algonquian - A language family spoken by the Arapahoe and Cheyenne peoples.
- American peregrine falcon - one of three threatened species in the area.
- Anasazi - A people who lived in the Four Corners area from around B.C.
1500 up to around A. D. 1300. They are believed to be descendants of Asians
who crossed from Asia to Alaska during the last ice age. The name is from a
Navajo word that means "Ancient Ruins" or "Ancient Enemy."
- Ancient Mokuche - Another term for the Basketmaker People.
- Archaic People - Nomadic hunterer/gatherer people who lived in the area
from around B.C. 6500 - B.C. 1500.
- Archeological Record - the imprint left on the landscape by past
communities and cultures.
- Archeological Sterilization - the process of stripping an archeological
landscape of its cultural richness.
- arroyo - A deep gully cut by an intermittent stream; a dry gulch.
- Artifact - something made and/or used by humans that can be picked up and
- Athapascan - a language family that was spoken by the Apache and Navajo
- atlatl - A spear-throwing device usually consisting of a stick fitted
with a thong or socket to steady the butt of the spear during the throw.
[Nahuatl, from atla, to throw.]
- Athapascan - a language family spoken by the Apache and Navajo peoples.
- Aztecs - a civilization that dominated Central Mexico from A.D. 1300 to
A.D.1520 when they were conquered by the Spaniards.
- Bald eagle - one of three threatened species in the Cedar Mesa area.
- Basketmaker I era - from B.C. 1500 to A.D 200.
- Basketmaker II era - from A.D. 200 to A.D 500.
- Basketmaker III era - from A.D 500 to A.D 750.
- Basketmaker People - Early culture from around B.C. 1500 to A.D 725.
Believed to be forerunners of either the Anasazi or the Fremont peoples.
- Bow and arrow - weapon that replaced the atlatl around A. D. 500.
- Chichimecs - Wandering tribes in Central Mexico that occupied the
Teotihuacan valley when the Toltecs disappeared.
- cryptobiotic - dark, lumpy, crusty, knobby, castle-looking soil.
- cupole - A small cup-shaped depression packed into vertical or horizontal
surface of a rock.
- cryptobacteria - A component of cryptobiotic soil.
- desert varnish - A black or brown stain on the boulders and cliffs in the
desert areas which is caused by rainwater carrying manganese or iron oxides.
- dry wash - another tern for arroyo.
- feature - something made by humans that cannot be easily carried off.
- flash flood - A sudden rainfall that can cause dry drainages to become
flooded with water in a few minutes.
- Fremont People - Native American culture that occupied Utah, Western
Colorado areas north of the Anasazi homelands.
- Giardia - An infectious disease that is transmitted in water. This is the
main reason all drinking water in the desert areas
must be treated before use.
- glyph - a figure or symbol that is engraved, incised, pecked or
drawn into a rock surface.
[From the Greek 'gluph,' carving, from gluphein, to carve.]
- Hopi - The name of a modern Native American group. The name means
"The Peaceful People."
- hyperthermia- Unusually high body temperature.
- hypothermia- Abnormally low body temperature.
[hypo is from the Greek word gwher = heat and therm means heat.
- jacal - A thatch-roofed hut made of small wooden posts, wattle and daub
found in Mexico and the southwest United States. [American Spanish, from
Nahuatl (Aztec) xacalli : xamitl, adobe + calli, house.]
- Kisaante - another term for the Pueblo People.
- kiva - An underground or partly underground chamber in a Pueblo
village, used by the men especially for ceremonies or councils. [Hopi k¡va.]
- kokopelli - The hunchbacked flute player one sees on Anasazi rock art and
- Man Corn - from the Nahuatl (Aztec) word
tlacatlaolli, "man corn," which meant "sacred meal of sacrificed human
meat, cooked with corn."
- mano and metate - The mano is a hand-held stone or roller for grinding
corn or other grains on a metate. [Spanish mano, from Latin manus, hand.]
- mesa - A broad, flat-topped elevation with one or more clifflike
sides, common in the southwest United States. [Spanish, table, mesa]
- Mexican Spotted Owl - one of three threatened species in the area.
- midden - A refuse heap found by a prehistoric ruin.
[Middle English midding, of Scandinavian origin.]
- Mokuche - "Owl Eyes Uncle" - Navajo for Hopi
- museum rock - a collection of artifacts removed from their original
location and left in a prominent place by an archeological site.
- Navajo <-> Dine = "The People"
- Olla - A large pottery jar with a wide mouth and a bulging base that was
used for cooking and water storage.
- Paayuch - Ute "Hill People"
- Paiutes - corruption of Paayuch.
- petrogylph - A carving or line carved or pecked on rock, especially one
made by prehistoric people.
- pictograph - A picture representing a word or idea; a hieroglyph. A record
in hieroglyphic symbols. [Latin pictus, past participle of pingere, to paint]
- Pithouse - The living space of the Anasazi during Basketmaker times.
- Point - Sharp, usually chipped stone tips that were used for spears,
arrows and darts.
- potsherd - A fragment of broken pottery, especially one found
in an archaeological excavation.
- Preferential collecting - removal of only a certain class of artifacts in
preference to other classes.
- Provenience - The source or origin of an artifact, including its
- Pueblo I era - A.D. 750 - A.D. 900.
- Pueblo II era - A.D. 900 - A.D. 1150.
- Pueblo III era - A.D. 1150 - A.D. 1350.
- Pueblo IV era - A.D. 1350 - A.D. 1600.
- ramada - 1. An open porch. 2. An openwork trellis, constructed over
a walkway, onto which climbing plants are trained.
[Spanish, from rama, branch.]
- Site - a location that contains clustered and/or concentrated
- slickrock - The smooth, sloping and usually light colored sandstone that
one finds on the canyon walls.
- Toltecs - "those who are civilized" - a civilization in Central Mexico
from A.D. 500 - A.D. 1100.
- Ute <-> Nuche - "Two Leggeds."
- Uto-Aztecan language family - spoken by the Aztec, Bannock, Comanche,
Paiute Shoshone, and Ute peoples.
- Witanuch - Ute "Flood/Old Ways People".
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- URL of this page: http://bcn.boulder.co.us/environment/cacv/cacvword.htm
- Revised '9-Jun-2001,11:10:14'
- Copyright ©1996, 1999 SCCS.