Anasazi Lesson for Kids: History & Facts

Instructor: Claire DeSaussure

Claire has worked in behavioral programs at the Elementary Level and has an MLS with a focus on Creative Writing.

The Anasazi people lived between 100-1600 AD in the American South West. They are known for their cliff dwellings, which can still be seen in Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona.

So Long Ago

I don't know about you, but my brain has a hard time remembering what I watched on television yesterday, so trying to figure out how long ago 100 AD was just boggles my mind! Archaeologists, people who use ruins and artifacts to know about the people and things that happened in the past, decided the easiest way to think about it was to describe times in history by what the people did. The Anasazi's time is known as the Late Basketmaker period.

I wonder in a million years what our time will be known as. I'm going with the Texter period, what do you think?

Dwellings and Food

Unlike the nomadic or traveling people that came before them, the Anasazi did not have to move to find food. They knew how to grow corn and squash, and they knew how to raise turkeys. They even knew how to build channels in the cliffs so that the rain would run straight to their crops. Because the Anasazi did not have to move to find food, they built permanent houses.

At first, the tribe dug pit houses, which were underground. Later, they made what we would now think of as apartment complexes in the lower cliff faces. They built houses that had many rooms, and many stories. Yellow Jacket in Colorado is an Anasazi dwelling with 1,800 rooms and was home to about 3,000 people. It's still there today, and you can go and visit it if you ever go to Colorado.

Archaeologists think higher cliff dwellings began to be built around 750-950 for protection. The Anastasi were named by the Navajo, and Anastasi means 'ancestors of enemies', so it makes sense there were village raids and fighting between tribes at that time. Living high up made the people safer because they could see enemy tribes coming to attack them. There are hand holds built into the rocks, so that the people could climb up to the safety of their houses, and archaeologists believe ropes were also used to help people up.

Dark Canyon Ruin
Dark Canyon


The Anasazi people were creative and used smaller pieces of rock to carve petroglyphs (pictures) on to stone. They drew animals, people and patterns.

This is Newspaper Rock in Utah.
Newspaper Rock

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