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They also participated in long-distance trade that brought cacao, macaws (a type of parrot), turquoise and copper to Chaco Canyon.

The people of the Chaco Culture did not use a writing system and as such, researchers have to rely on the artifacts and structures they left behind, as well as oral accounts that have been passed on through generations, to reconstruct what their lives were like.

The sites are considered sacred ancestral homelands by the Hopi and Pueblo people, who maintain oral accounts of their historical migration from Chaco and their spiritual relationship to the land.

Though park preservation efforts can conflict with native religious beliefs, tribal representatives work closely with the National Park Service to share their knowledge and respect the heritage of the Chacoan culture.

They lived in a range of structures that included small family pit houses, larger structures to house clans, grand pueblos, and cliff-sited dwellings for defense.