The People of Chaco Canyon

Chacoan feats of architecture took the cooperative interaction of many people, over many years, with resources required from far-flung regions. Logically, a structure had to be in place for planning, managing, and funding these efforts. Possibly, like the building of Hoover Dam, these jobs were highly anticipated, highly coveted, and attracted plentiful labor and expertise to Chaco.

Think of American “company towns” in the 1800s. Occasionally, company towns emerged from a paternalistic effort to create a utopian workers community. Town halls, schools, libraries, and other central services were provided by the company in order to build strong communities and help make workers more productive. Bars or places of ill repute were banned.

In others manifestations, large companies had less idealistic goals. At many factories or other industrial sites with large concentrations of workers, the remoteness and lack of public transportation prevented workers from leaving for other jobs. A “company store” with exploitive prices and limited selection would be the only source of goods. In some cases, workers earned only “script”, which could be spent only at the company store. Workers could take credit at the company store, and often ended up indebted to the companies they worked for. Could a similar model of exploiting workers have been employed in Chaco? Perhaps the Great Houses were the company towns of this time.