Ancestral Puebloans: The Southwest American Indians

2335 words - 9 pages

Ancestral Puebloans: The Southwest American Indians

"Man corn", warfare and atlatls were not the only interesting aspects of the Anasazi culture. The history and lifestyles of the Ancestral Puebloans may have contributed to their mysterious disappearance. Their societies were more complex than most humans realize.

The Anasazi, or to be politically correct, the Ancestral Puebloans, traveled to the Southwest from Mexico around 100 A.D. (Southwest Indian Relief Council, 2001). The word "Anasazi" originated from the Navajo word that translates to "ancestral enemies." The name was changed from Anasazi to Ancestral Puebloans so that their ancestors today do not take offense to the history of the people in their past.

The Anasazi were known to be a nomadic people. They generally moved around until they found the perfect land for farming. This perfect land happened to be scattered across the southwest portion of the United States, mostly in the Four-Corner region of Arizona, Colorado, Utah and New Mexico (SWIRC, 2001).

Mesa Verde, Chaco Canyon and Hovenweep were some of the most attractive places for these nomadic farmers to settle down. Mesa Verde provided the Anasazi with a high plateau full of canyons, caves and "Cliff Palaces." Chaco Canyon served as the center for all Anasazi activity. Hovenweep contained many cliff dwellings, perfect for a thriving, but remote Anasazi site.

The Anasazi Indians developed their farming methods gradually once they found the perfect homelands. They would grow and eat corn, squash, pinon nuts, fruits and berries. Once the corn was fully-grown, the Anasazi women ground the corn with ametate and a mano. The metate is a "flat stone receptacle" and the mano is a "hand-held stone" (Ferguson, 1996).

For protein, wild game such as deer, elk, rabbits, squirrels, raccoons, turkeys, and various other small game were consumed. Their game meat was killed using either a snare, net, bow and arrow, or an atlatl (Ferguson, 1996). An atlatl consisted of a throwing stick with a separate dart, it functioned almost the same as a bow and arrow does (Roberts, 1996).

The Anasazi have been characterized into two categories: Basketmakers and Pueblo. The Basketmaker people were then divided into subcategories: Basketmaker II and Basketmaker III. The Pueblo however, were categorized into four subcategories: Pueblo I, Pueblo II, Pueblo III, and Pueblo IV. The people remained the same, only little things in their society changed (Roberts, 1996).

The early Basketmakers are known for their yucca-leaf woven baskets. These baskets were so tightly woven that water was stored in them regularly. They used yucca leaves for medicinal purposes and made sandals out of the yucca leaves as well. They lived in caves and on rock ledges, but they soon began building pithouses to store food. They made their tools and hunting gear out of bones and stones (Ferguson, 1996).

By the late Basketmaker time, pottery was replacing yucca...

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