Southwest Native Americans - The Anasazi Illustration

Who Were the Anasazi?
The Ancient Ones for Kids

40,000 years ago: A long time ago, people lived in what would become the Southwest Region of the United States. Some scientists say people came to this region about 40,000 years ago from Asia. Some say 25,000 years ago.

Hunters and Gatherers: These early people were hunters and gatherers. They hunted for buffalo. They gathered wild fruit and vegetables.

Cave Drawings: They left traces of themselves on cave walls. Pictographs are rock drawings. Petroglyghs are rock carvings. These early people left both pictographs and petroglyghs that date back more than 11,000 years. To paint pictographs (rock drawings), the Ancient Ones used twig brushes dipped in naturally colored vegetable fats. These early people painted hands, animals, dancers, hunters, gods, and medicine men. Even though these paintings are thousands of years old, some still exist in caves all over the southwest. Some are still brightly colored.

The Three Sisters: As time went on, around 300 CE, people began to settle down and grow crops. The three major crops were the Three Sisters - maize, squash, and beans. Farmers used irrigation to water crops in dry areas.

Weavers and Potters: They raised sheep for food and wool. They used the wool to make colorfully woven blankets and clothing. The women made clay baskets. They also wove baskets from long grasses. Over time, the women became the potters, and the men became the weavers. One of their favorite designs was a zigzap pattern that represented lightning and rain. Without rain, the Anasazi could not have grown corn.

Clan Councils: They governed themselves using a simple tribal system of clan representation. Every clan, or family group, had a representative who spoke for their clan at village meetings. These people worked out their problems in a peaceful manner.

Gods of Nature: They believed in many supernatural beings. Everything they needed they got from nature, so it is not surprising that their gods were the gods of nature. They developed a rich religious life.

Like most early people in the Americans, they used impersonation to honor their gods. The men dressed up in colorful costumes at religious ceremonies, to look like their gods and to attract the attention of their gods. Rain played an important part in their religion. One of their most exciting dances was the rain dance.

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