Mesa Verde, Colorado

Why the people of Mesa Verde built elaborate towns in the cliffs of southern Colorado - and then left - was a mystery for a long time. Without written records, archeologists and others scratched their heads. They could only hypothesize where this civilization went - and why.

Finally, as it was explained to us, people started to listen to the voices that had been speaking. The Hopi people explained that these villages, once filled with their ancestors, were abandoned in the 14th century for a variety of reasons: drought, deforestation, space constraints, and a tradition of migration. 

Diana, our guide at the Cliff Palace, asked us to think about our own histories. Had any of us ever moved - and if yes, why?

The group answered: we moved to be near family, for economic reasons, to continue our education, for love, to generally better our lives.

She asked us next to think about why our families have moved, stressing that if we were American, we most likely had a migration story in our past. (And, as she pointed out, for many those migration stories were not one of choice, but of slavery or forced migration). 

Our answers were similar, our families moved to better their lives, to escape from religious or ethnic persecution, to flee war, to escape famine, for safety. 

All of these answers swirled around us as we explored the structures, thinking of what inspired this particular migration. 

Diana, without touching on politics, reminded us all that migrations aren’t easy - especially today. 

Those that migrate today often do so by crossing dangerous lands to escape terrible circumstances. Much like the people of Mesa Verde, we move because of the need to better the lives of our families. Diana reminded us that it’s not our job to make these journeys harder - but to remember our history.

Mesa Verde, Colorado. August 2018.

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