We have studied earthen plasters and wall materials from three ancient Native American sites in the American Southwest that include a twelfth-century, subterranean kiva used for textile production in Natural Bridges National Monument (Utah), a thirteenth-century, defensive, cliff dwelling at Montezuma Castle (Arizona), and a mid-fourteenth-century, puddled earth Great House at Casa Grande National Monument (Arizona). In each case, the data collected has been used to develop long-term preservation strategies and monitoring plans for each site. To understand the conservation issues, earthen materials were analyzed. Characterization included examination of BSE-SEM micrographs of polished thin sections prepared from a total of 36 samples from the three sites, and XRD of twelve samples. Research goals included: 1) determining the microstructure, micro-composition, porosity, mineralogy of aggregates and phases in the binding matrix for each sample; 2) reconstructing plaster technologies and their variation within and between sites, including material selection, preparation and application sequences, and; 3) identifying principal deterioration conditions and processes. Our findings support the idea that plaster materials were collected locally and manipulated to optimize their performance to suit the unique site conditions and needs of the ancient people using the structures.