The Anasazi Tribe: Culture, History, Religion, Food & Art

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  • 0:02 Anasazi Tribe History
  • 1:36 Anasazi Tribe Culture
  • 2:40 Anasazi Tribe Religion
  • 4:09 Anasazi Tribe Food
  • 5:02 Anasazi Tribe Art
  • 6:04 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Lorrine Garrison-Boyd
This lesson examines the culture, history, religion, food and art of the Anasazi tribe. The Anasazi were prehistoric Native American people who resided in Southwestern regions of the country. Their unique civilization originated over 2,000 years ago.

Anasazi Tribe History

Just imagine, over 2000 years ago, the Anasazi tribe's civilization began in what is known today as Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico. The Anasazi tribe, also known as the Ancestral Pueblo culture, was the largest and most prominent Southwestern prehistoric group of people. Yet evidence of the tribe's unique history is only represented by archaeological remains and written accounts provided by Spanish explorers. This is due to the fact that there are no accounts providing insight into the history of the Anasazi tribe written by the Anasazi people.

However, it is known that their history increased in complexity with time and was based on economic and social independence. Archaeologists have uncovered numerous Anasazi prehistoric sites finding not only skeletal remains, but unusually exotic objects supporting this view. These objects were primarily made of shell, bone, pottery, stone or even vegetable and animal fibers and survived for centuries in ancient Southwestern sites.

The culture of the Anasazi tribe is still represented today through its descendants who carry on many of their traditions and customs. They include Pueblo Indian tribes such as the Laguna, Hopi, Acoma and Zuni.

Anasazi Tribe Culture

Some of the material culture that defines the Anasazi includes objects such as pottery (created with intricate geometric shapes and styles), exquisite jewelry, woven textiles, and elaborately structured baskets, just to name a few. The Pueblo Indians continue producing artisan work with these styles today.

Archaeological discoveries of ancient campsites and skeletal remains also represent the uniqueness of the Anasazi culture, who are often known by the term cliff dwellers, which identifies a specific method used to build Anasazi homes. Typical Anasazi communities were literally built on rock ledges in canyons, the ruins of which are still evident today in the Southwestern United States. These ruins show us that communities were structured to accommodate hundreds of individuals. These structures symbolize Anasazi occupation and culture that spanned for centuries.

Anasazi Tribe Religion

The religion of the Anasazi tribe was designed to maintain a harmonious connection with nature, believing this provided an abundance of good health, good crops, and good weather. Religion was also regarded as the focal point of success, impacting every aspect of daily life. Therefore, all members of the Anasazi community actively participated in religious rituals, usually under the supervision and leaderships of the tribe's elders.

Traditionally, religious deities were represented by various masks, used during customary ritual dances. These masks were used to foster the promotion of fertility among the tribe and other important aspects, economically as well as socially, to ensure the future of the Anasazi people. Earth was regarded as sacred. All living things were believed to have a spirit and soul, connected to a Great Spirit.

Ancient kivas were used for religious purposes. These circular, sacred, underground structures were situated in the center of a community and were only occupied by men to conduct meetings for the purpose of religious practices and discussing important issues. Entrances to the kivas were made through a hole in the roof, and inside they contained only a stone bench to seat the occupants.

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