In an effort to expand the known range of early Navaho history, an area in north-central New Mexico was chosen for survey and excavation in the summer of 1940. This territory lies just south of the Colorado line, between 107° and 108° longitude, and between 36° and 37° latitude, in the northwestern part of Rio Arriba County, in the upper San Juan drainage. Reconnaissance extended over the country within a radius of from ten to fifteen miles from Gobernador. The area is about thirty-five miles east of the town of Aztec and includes the canyons of Compaftero, San Rafael, Mufioz, Gobernador, Frances, La Jara and Pueblito.
Sites from this region had been noted as early as 1912 by Kidder and Morris, who point out their seemingly Pueblo-Navaho nature. Father Berard and Van Valkenburgh report hogan remains on the slopes of Gobernador Knob, sacred in Navaho mythology, and Mera obtained pinyon specimens for dating from several small pueblo-like structures in this region.