Pictures of Indian Dancers & Cliff Dwellings at Manitou Springs, Colorado
Colorado Springs Attraction
My mother and I were staying in Colorado Springs at the start and at the end of our eleven day vacation to Colorado from Texas in July of 1999. We tried to fit in all of the attractions that we could in the time allotted and since Manitou Springs essentially blends into the Colorado Springs landscape, we decided to check out the Anasazi Cliff Dwellings there.
Pictures of those cliff dwellings as well as Indian Dancing will be found in this post.
Both Manitou Springs as well as Colorado Springs sit in the scenic foothills of the towering Pikes Peak mountain which dominates the landscape from all directions.
Native American Indians
Long before white settlers discovered this part of Colorado Native Americans lived there and knew the land intimately drawing life and sustenance from it.
They would undoubtedly have enjoyed the natural beauty of the forests, mountains and streams.
Underground aquifers bubbled up to the surface and the natural spring waters not only provided good clean drinking water for the Indians but also lured wild game to this area. The animals when killed would then have provided the Indians with hides and meat as necessary for clothing, shelter and food.
Called the "Ancient Ones" the Anasazi Indians are ancestors to the modern Pueblo Indians. In addition to the Anasazi, other tribes like the Cheyenne, Kiowa, Arapaho and Ute also lived in this area around what is now called Manitou Springs.
Things started to drastically change for the Native Americans when surveys were ordered of these lands after the Louisiana Territory was purchased from Napoleon in 1803 by what was then the growing United States of America.
Following the exploration and mapping of these beautiful parts, settlers were drawn here which ultimately had the effect of pushing the Indians away from their native lands.
Regretfully this happened in many other parts of America as well at different times and locations.
The Anasazi Indians settled in the Four Corners region of the country which includes parts of Utah, New Mexico, Colorado and Arizona.
In addition to building lodgings with bricks made out of dried mud and vegetative materials on the ground, Indians also took advantage of the overhangs of cliffs with naturally carved out caves caused by erosive action over the years to build dwellings for themselves and their families.
These cliff palaces or cliff dwellings were secured to the front by facing them with handmade bricks.
They were also considered to be safer lodgings in case of warfare between rival tribes of Indians.
Since they were built high up into the mountainsides, all the Indians had to do to protect themselves from assault would be to pull up the homemade ladders and easy access to their homes would have been made much harder.
The downside to this would be that eventually they would be forced to exit those cliff dwellings to have access to fresh water and food.
The need for water would have been the prime necessity driving them from the safety of their save havens the soonest.
There is some controversy over the Manitou Cliff Dwellings authenticity.
Obviously the cliff overhang and natural caves existed
Some claim that these are actual ruins dating back to 1100 - 1300 A.D.
Others suggest that the bricks and structure was relocated from actual sites in the Four Corners region of the country to this location of the existing caves.
Some people say that this Manitou Cliff Dwellings structure was simply constructed to showcase how these ancient people built their cliff palaces and how they lived.
In any case, it gives visitors a chance to experience a hands on view of life as it would have occurred centuries ago.
The adjacent museum and gift shop are well worth a visit and one can view prehistoric artifacts as well as purchase more modern souvenirs of one's visit if so inclined.
Tourists can visit the Manitou Cliff Dwellings every day of the year and at the time of our visit, adult tickets cost $7 with child tickets priced at $5.
In the months of June, July and August an added attraction are the multiple performances that can be enjoyed at no additional cost with authentic Indians dressed in colorful costumes doing dances that date back in time and hold great meaning in their native Indian culture.
The Hoop Dance represents the never ending circle of life.
The old beliefs meant that a person was rewarded with good or evil depending upon how they lived their lives.
In other words according to more modern terminology..."What goes around, comes around."
Personally I think that there is much credence to this belief.
The Eagle Dance
This dance has great symbolic meaning as does the Eagle to many native American Indians.
Many Indians believed that the eagle who could fly higher than any other bird could carry prayers directly to God.
Thus for centuries the Eagle has been revered.
Interestingly enough, when the United States was formed, the American Bald Eagle was chosen to become our national symbol and has been featured ever since on every type of thing from currency to furniture to tapestries to paintings and so forth.
As a national symbol, the American Bald Eagle is protected and cannot be hunted or purposely killed.
That being the case with permission from our government and only if an eagle is found dead from natural causes are todays Native Americans allowed access to harvesting and using eagle feathers in their ceremonies.
Thus the eagle feathers on the arms of these dancers are very special and treasured items and are not easily replaced.
If you find yourself looking for attractions in Colorado Springs, just a "stone's throw" distance away is Manitou Springs where these Anasazi Cliff Dwellings can be not only be viewed but entered and explored room by room.
With modern paved paths and stairs with railings these cliff dwellings are accessible to most people. For the more adventurous who wish to climb those wooden ladders, that can also be done.
Inside of the caves looking out at the surrounding scenery the views are magnificent.
For those who have not yet visited the cliff dwellings at Manitou Springs, Colorado, hopefully these pictures and videos of Indian dancing as well as the other pictures leave you with an impression of what can easily fill a few hours of your time if you are ever in this gorgeous part of the country.
Have you ever visited the Manitou Cliff Dwellings?
Manitou Cliff Dwellings location
Native American Music / Ly-o-lay-ale-loya ~ Great images along with the music!
© 2011 Peggy Woods