The Mystery of Chaco Canyon



Robert Redford narrates the story of the northwest New Mexico site, perhaps the only site in the world constructed in an elaborate pattern that mirrors the yearly cycle of the sun and the 19-year cycle of the moon.

How did an ancient civilization, with no known written language, arrange its buildings into a virtual celestial calendar, spanning an area roughly the size of Ohio?

Join us for a remastered broadcast of the acclaimed 1999 film.


Thursday November 9 at 7pm on 5.1


Rebroadcast Sunday November 19 at 6pm on 5.1

And Monday November 20 at 10pm on 5.1

Ever since she discovered the ‘Sun Dagger,’ Anna Sofaer and her Solstice Project team of researchers have been exploring the enigmas posed by the massive prehistoric ruins in Chaco Canyon, New Mexico.

A new explanation of the mystery is emerging. For years archaeologists have assumed that Chaco Canyon was primarily an ancient trading center. The Mystery of Chaco Canyon reveals that, instead, Chaco was a complex ceremonial center with extraordinary astronomical alignments of buildings and ‘roads.’ Landscape, directions, sun and moon, and movement of shadow and light were used by the Chacoan builders to unite with a cosmic order.

Contemporary Pueblo Indians, descendants of the Chacoans, speak in the film of the spiritual significance of Chaco in their world today. They recall the brilliant knowledge of the ancestors that gave them control over natural forces, but suggest also the corrupting effect of such power. They describe the deliberate action of their ancestors to seal off the buildings and these aspects of their past. Today, the legacy of the extraordinary Chaco Culture is threatened by both natural and human developments.

Directed by Anna Sofaer

Produced by The Solstice Project

Narrated by Robert Redford

Written by Anna Sofaer and Matt Dibble

Music by Michael Stearn




See related content on our Native American Heritage Month page

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