On December 18, 1888, Richard Wetherill & Co. were led by a neighboring tribe of Ute to what he later called Cliff Palace in Mesa Verde, an expansive, ancient, abandoned cliff dwelling in the Coloradan Four Corners region. He also named the ancient peoples who inhabited the cliffs (from about 600 to 1300 CE) the Anasazi, although the Pueblo people prefer to call their ancestors the Ancient Pueblo Peoples or the Ancestral Pueblo Peoples. The Ute had long known of the existence of these ancient cliff dwellings, Spanish explorers were in the neighborhood in the 1770s, and various other whites had seen, reported, and photographed bits of the area throughout the 1800s, but the Wetherill party is largely thought of as the [you know, non-Indian] discoverers of the site (particularly the most famous section, Cliff Palace, pictured in this stamp). They also helped spread awareness of the ancient culture by appropriating and selling some of the artifacts they found (and keeping most of them in their private collections), despite an 1873 treaty (revised from a far too generous 1868 treaty) between the Ute and the U.S. government giving ownership of the land to the Ute. Mesa Verde was designated a national park in 1906 by President Roosevelt—the first such park, in fact, following closely on the heels of the Antiquities Act of 1906, which gave our National Executive the power to set aside federal land for preservation. It was also designated a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1978. That shure is a purty green table we got there.
Issued on: September 25, 1934
From: Mesa Verde, CO