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History Colorado Lecture Series

The First Ascent

Ten Thousand Years of Occupation in the Colorado Mountains

The Southern Rockies are known for their jagged peaks and abundant wildlife. While many think of this alpine country as remote wilderness, archaeological research provides a different narrative. More than 2,000 prehistoric Colorado sites are known at elevations higher than 3,000 meters. This demonstrates that the highlands—rather than being a barrier—played a significant role in the lives of ancient Native Americans. Dr. Jason LaBelle of Colorado State University gives an overview of the alpine archaeology of Colorado, focusing on hunting sites and other key places, proposing reasons for their construction and use over millennia, and arguing for the importance of these places then and now.