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Anasazi
CATEGORY: culture
DEFINITION: A major cultural tradition of canyon dwellers found in southwestern United States between 100-1600 AD -- mainly in the four corners area of northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, southeastern Utah, and southwestern Colorado. These Native Americans began settlements with the cultivation of maize. Pottery was unknown at the beginning, but basketry was well developed, hence the name Basket Maker" is given to these early stages. By the sixth century there were large villages of pit houses with farming and pottery and it evolved into the full Anasazi tradition. The first pueblos and kivas were constructed and fine painted pottery made. The next few centuries (the Pueblo I-III periods) were a time of expansion during which some of the most famous towns were founded (Chaco Canyon) and fine polychrome wares produced. At this time the Mogollon people to the south adopted the Anasazi way of life and their Hohokam neighbors were also influenced perhaps suggesting that the Anasazi actually migrated to these areas. In such an arid environment farming was always vulnerable to fluctuations in climate and rainfall and these factors caused considerable population movement and relocation of settlements during 11th-13th centuries with the virtual abandonment of Chaco Canyon in 1150 and the plateau heartland by 1300. From 1300 until the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century the Anasazi culture and population dwindled and the homeland in northern Arizona was abandoned. Then with the encroachment of nomadic Apache and Navajo tribes and with the arrival of Europeans from the south and east Anasazi territory decreased further. However some pueblos have continued to be occupied until the present day. The generally accepted chronological framework of three Basketmaker and five Pueblo stages was first proposed at the 1927 Pecos Conference. Although exact links are uncertain it is clear that modern Pueblo Indian people are descended from Anasazi ancestors. The name Anasazi is derived from a Navajo word meaning "enemy ancestors" or "early ancestors" or "old people"."

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