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The Anasazi


Who Were the Anasazi?

Farming changed people's lives. For the first time, people could live in one place. They learned to live and work together. People no longer needed to spend all their time looking for food. They few more food than they needed. They saved grain to eat later. People had time to make pottery and play games.

Different groups of Native Americans settled in each of the land areas of Arizona.

The Ancient Ones

A group of people we now call the Anasazi moved into the plateau region of the Southwest. Anasazi means the "ancient ones". The fist Anasazi hunted wild animals and gathered fruits, seeds and nuts for food. They used an atlatl to throw spears. Over many years they started using stone daggers as weapons. Even later, the people learned to use bow and arrows.

After hundred of years, the people started farming and raising animals. They planted corn and beans. This corn was not like the corn we have today. The corncobs were more like a thin shaft of wheat. As time went on, they developed better corn. They even had popcorn. They raised turkeys. They had dogs to help them pull heavy loads.

        Baskets and Pottery

The first Anasazi were called "basket makers". They were strong beautiful baskets from part of the yucca plant or wet willows that bent easily. They carried food and water in their baskets. They even put hot stones and water in baskets to cook food.

Hundred of years later, the Anasazi started making pottery for cooking and storing things. Most of the pottery was black and white, but they decorated some pottery with other colors. They traded pottery with other groups of people for gems, jewelry, copper bells, buttons and beads.

Learn more about Anasazi Baskets and Pottery


The Anasazi made clothes by weaving yucca fibers, turkey feathers, and rabbit fur together to make robes and skirts. Later grew cotton and used it to make clothes.

Pit Houses and Cliff Dwellings

At first the Anasazi built pit houses partly underground. The sides and roofs were made of wood poles covered with brush and mud. A fire burned inside in the winter and the smoke escaped from a hole in the roof. Since there were no windows, the homes were quiet and dark inside. The people did much of their work and cooking outside in the sun.

Later groups began to build large pueblos. They were like large apartment houses made of stone or adobe bricks, Adobe is made by mixing mud and straw and baking the bricks in the sun. For each roof, layers of heavy logs were laid across the walls. Many of the rooms were used for storing food, People climbed up wood ladders to go from one level to the next.

Cliff houses were amazing places high up on the sides of rock cliffs. The cliff house were not easily attacked by enemies. Each day people climbed up and down wooded ladders to work in the flat gardens at the top of the mesa or in the valleys below. Each pueblo or cliff house had a round, underground room called a kiva. Men climbed down a ladder through a hole in the roof to get inside. They used this room for religious ceremonies.

Where did the Anasazi go?

No one knows what happened to the Anasazi, but after many years they left their cliff houses. There was a long dry period, and the people needed to grow crops. Maybe they moved to find water and never came back.

Many Hopi people living today many be the descendants of the Anasazi, who returned to that part of the plateau many years later.

Read more about what happened to the Anasazi


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