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Coin of the Month

Chaco Culture National Historical Park Quarter

You may be wondering what those two round structures are on this quarter.  They're called "kivas," and they're a part of American history that not many people know a lot about.

Kivas are large stone buildings, often circular and usually built underground, from hundreds of years ago.  You can find many kivas and great houses with square rooms at the Chaco Culture National Historical Park in New Mexico...and two on this quarter.

What were kivas used for?  It's hard to know for sure.  There are no written records and the peoples who used them moved away long ago.  But facts like the large size of the kivas tell us that people gathered there in groups, maybe from nearby houses, maybe from villages far away.

Because these buildings are so old, they usually are found in ruin.  They may be buried under sand because their roofs (if they had any) decayed and caved in.

To study the Chaco ruins, archaeologists have excavated (dug out) some of the kivas at Chaco Canyon.  They have been surprised to find huge buildings with hundreds of rooms, often aligned with the sun and moon to track time.  So some buildings acted as big stone calendars!

A thousand years ago, Chaco Canyon must have been a busy place.  The ruins there tell us that, in spite of the area's heat and dryness, it was once the center of culture and trading for Southwestern peoples like the Navajo.

There's lots more to discover at petroglyphs (rock carvings) and pictographs (wall paintings)!  Read more on the Chaco Culture National Historical Park quarter page, where you can download a picture to color too!


Image shows the back of the Chaco Culture National Historical Park quarter.
Reverse:  Two kivas are shown near the north wall of the Chetro Ketl Complex and the north wall of Chaco Canyon.

Image shows the front of the quarter-dollar coin.
Obverse:  George Washington's profile is surrounded by the inscriptions "United States of America, " "Liberty," "In God We Trust," a mint mark, and "Quarter Dollar".T

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