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Pueblo Peoples

Southwest Archaeology

The first portion of this section is drawn from the BLM Farmington Field Office's Proposed Resource Management Plan and Final Environmental Impact Statement EIS. We will rewrite this section as we get an opportunity. It needs to be expanded to cover Mogollon, Hohokam and Patayan as well.

 

Basketmaker II (ca. A.D. 1 to 500)

The Basketmaker II (BM II) Phase represents the first successful agricultural populations developing sedentary settlements in the region. Dating from approximately A.D. 1 to A.D. 500, Basketmaker sites are found in southern Utah, southwestern Colorado, and eastern Arizona, as well as much of New Mexico. Due to the limited amount of research devoted to these sites, the relationship between late Archaic En Medio Phase occupations and the BM II occupation is still poorly understood. The introduction of viable agricultural strains, in particular corn (Zea mays), as well as squash and beans is thought to have contributed to the adoption of sedentary habitations, generally aligned with perennial drainages in the Four Corners area. Shallow pit structures and extensive use of storage features mark the adoption of agriculture as a key feature of the occupation. Population aggregation is indicated by settlements with multiple structures. Upland settlements are also found which may represent seasonal use for farming plots as well as exploitation of faunal resources. The first use of ceramic artifacts also occur during the latter part of the period, with simple vessels constructed of alluvial clays similar to those manufactured by Mogollon populations far south of the planning area.

The BM II occupation in the planning area is known from the Chaco Canyon Area and the Chaco River drainage, as well as more extensive occupations in the Navajo Reservoir area. The BM II occupation in the Navajo Reservoir area was designated the Los Pinos phase following extensive inventory and excavation for the Navajo Reservoir project. (Eddy 1966). Los Pinos phase sites cluster along the Pine and Animas rivers, with more intensive occupations to the north in Colorado.

BM II components comprise less than 1 percent of the total known components in the planning area, however are of particular interest to researchers not only due to their rarity, but because of their importance in understanding early transitions to agriculture and the adoption of sedentary settlement patterns. The first signs of population aggregation in the region are marked by the BM II period, with continuing population growth trends for the next 600 years.

On FFO lands, there are no ACECs or SMAs that actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. Other examples may be found that merit special designations. Still other examples of resources from this period are managed according to continuing management guidelines.

Basketmaker III (ca. A.D. 500 to 700)

Basketmaker III (BM III) occupations in the San Juan Basin are characterized by widespread adoption of domesticated crops accompanied by the appearance of pithouses, the advent of ceramic manufacturing, and the introduction of bow-and-arrow technology. Notable among the crops recovered from sites dating to this period are maize, squash, and beans. The adoption of agriculture, even in a nascent form, was probably facilitated by a return to increases in effective moisture over much of the Colorado Plateau during this period. Yet, indirect evidence of droughts during this period suggests that this was not a stable climatic regime. As a consequence, BM III groups continued to rely on wild plant

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and animal resources, with agricultural products largely used to supplement wild resources. Classic interpretations of BM III suggest that population growth continued at relatively high rates. Current notions suggest the cumulative effect was that BM III groups began to become more densely packed into the landscape. The presence of neighboring groups, who also depended on the same resources, would have constrained the ability of any one group to complete seasonal movements to obtain wild plant and animal resources. It is such constraints on movement, in conjunction with improved climatic conditions, which are thought to have contributed to the more widespread adoption of cultivated crops during this period. Similarly, by late BM III times, a major population shift from the La Plata region into the central portion of the San Juan Basin had occurred, perhaps in response to improved agricultural conditions.

BM III sites are known from the Navajo Reservoir region, Animas-La Plata watersheds, Red Rock Valley, Middle Chuska Valley, Chaco Canyon region, and southward into the Rio Puerco Valley. Relative to earlier periods, BM III sites are far more visible due to longer occupations. The shift to domesticated crops is reflected by changes in settlement patterns during BM III times. Compared to earlier times, BM III sites are disproportionately oriented toward areas containing arable land. Agriculture in higher elevations would have been constrained by frost-free periods, while those in lower elevations would have been constrained by rainfall and surface water availability. It should be emphasized that agriculture during this period relied exclusively on direct rainfall; technologies such as irrigation to supplement water supplies have not been found.

At the same time, there is evidence that BM III was not the same across all parts of the San Juan Basin. While the classic description of BM III emphasizes reliance on agriculture, there is some indication that early BM III groups in the southwestern and western portions of the basin continued to practice hunting-and-gathering to a much greater extent than agriculture. In contrast, there is evidence of greater agriculture in the Navajo Reservoir (Sambrito phase), accompanied by substantially higher populations. BM III components comprise approximately 2 percent of the total components in the planning area, and exhibit greater size and complexity than the sites of the preceding BM II period. BM III settlements are found in the Navajo Reservoir area, the Chuska Slope and Chaco Canyon area within the Chaco Canyon drainage, and in the La Plata, Animas, Upper San Juan, Largo, Carrizo and Gobernador drainage basins.

On FFO lands, there are 8 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. These include:

1 . East Side Rincon Site

2 . Morris 41

3 . Pregnant Basketmaker

4 . Carrizo Cranes

5 . Encierro Canyon

6 . NM 01-39236

7 . Martinez Canyon

8 . Crow Canyon District

 

Other examples may be found that merit special designations. Still other examples of resources from this period are managed according to continuing management guidelines.

 

Pueblo I (ca. A.D. 700 to 900)

The Pueblo I (PI) period on the Colorado Plateau generally is typified by an increase in the number of sites, an increase in average site size, the appearance of above-ground jacal and stone architecture alongside semi-subterranean pithouse structures, and larger storage facilities. Above-ground structures typically exhibit linear or oval configurations and contain about 8 rooms per site. So-called "proto-kivas" first make their appearance at some PI sites in the planning area. With the exception of the Chaco region, these trends are not thought to reflect

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population growth, but rather consolidation of previously distinct residential groups into larger villages.

In the San Juan Basin, however, the overall number of PI sites is relatively low. This is attributed, in part, to deteriorating environmental conditions on the Colorado Plateau, specifically reduced rainfall and an increase in the overall variability of rainfall. Rainfall estimates appear relatively high between A.D. 700 to 750, but began a steady decline through the early A.D. 800s. Between A.D. 830 to 900, drought conditions are thought to have prevailed over much of the planning area.

The highest concentrations of PI sites are situated in the Mesa Verde region, in the Middle Chuska Valley, Chaco Canyon, Lower Chuska Valley, and the Navajo Reservoir region. The easternmost manifestation of PI, termed the Rosa phase, differs slightly from sites situated further west. Here, settlements tend to be distributed not only along drainages, but as well on outwash fans to maximize agricultural production. Over much of the northern San Juan Basin, sites tend to be situated on mesas, broad ridges, or floodplain terraces overlooking drainages.

As in BM III times, there is evidence for regional differentiation in subsistence patterns. In the southwestern portion of the San Juan Basin, sites assigned to the White Mound phases contain food remains indicating reliance on a mix of horticulture, hunting and gathering. In the northern San Juan Basin, Rosa-Piedra phase sites tend to contain relatively larger amounts of cultigens. In the center of the San Juan Basin, in Chaco Canyon, PI sites contain a similar mix of domesticated and wild resources, suggesting that drought conditions during this period caused subsistence strategies to remain diversified. To the east, reliance on domesticates appears to have been greater than in other parts of the basin.

PI components comprise over 6 percent of the total components in the planning area, with occupations clustering in the Navajo Reservoir area, the Largo, Carrizo, Upper San Juan and Gobernador watersheds, and on the Chuska Slope and Chaco Canyon areas within the Chaco River drainage basin. Recent research on PI communities in the Navajo Reservoir area have identified several large complex communities aggregated around Great Pit Houses, the early predecessor to the Great Kivas known from the later Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods. Population growth and aggregation during this period is a critical factor in the development of the later complex communities and social structures present in the Pueblo II and Pueblo III periods in the planning area.

On FFO lands, there are 8 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. These include:

1 . East Side Rincon Site

2 . Morris 41

3 . Pregnant Basketmaker

4 . Carrizo Cranes

5 . Encierro Canyon

6 . NM 01-39236

7 . Martinez Canyon

8 . Crow Canyon District

Other examples may be found that merit special designations. Still other examples of resources from this period are managed according to continuing management guidelines.

 

Pueblo II (ca. A.D. 900 to 1050)

The Pueblo II (PII) period is characterized by an increase in the number of sites, an increase in average site size, a shift toward above-ground coursed masonry architecture, the appearance of larger numbers and larger sizes of storage facilities, and the appearance of formal kivas. Sites typically contain between 6 and 9 rooms per site, most arranged in a linear fashion. Larger sites containing more numerous rooms are often laid out in a quadrilateral pattern around central plazas.

 

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It is during PII times that the Chaco phenomenon truly flourishes, accompanied by the establishment of very large towns, the appearance of multistoried room blocks, increasingly complex architectural elaboration of kivas, the advent of field systems in an effort to boost agricultural production, and the development of road systems to facilitate trade and exchange.

These changes seem to signal a return to accelerating population growth in response to dramatically improved climatic conditions. Unlike the PI period, climatic reconstructions for A.D. 900 to 1050 indicate a return to higher rainfall levels, although this was accompanied by episodic droughts whose intensity varied from place to place. In areas less affected by droughts, settlements were pushed into areas that would have been marginal in PI times. It is suspected that differential spatial distributions of critical resources probably became more pronounced in PII times over much of the San Juan Basin.

In short, current theories suggest that much of the PII period is typified by imbalances between people and resources, both temporally and geographically. Such imbalances necessitated the introduction of various buffering mechanisms in an effort to offset these imbalances. Among the buffering mechanisms inferred from the archaeological record were improved storage facilities, expansion of regional exchange networks, and more frequent abandonment and reestablishment of large villages in areas better suited for agriculture. One consequence is that PII sites often were occupied for relatively short periods of time. Subsistence practices indicate greater reliance on cultivated plants, although evidence of use of wild resources persists at most PII sites. Maize, beans, and squash are quite common at both large and small sites. Evidence of agricultural intensification derives from the identification and dating of the first water control structures in the San Juan Basin. These structures were designed to augment rainfall, thereby increasing overall productivity of given plots of land. Many of these water control devices seem to provide water to outwash fans, areas that are often marginal for direct rainfall agriculture.

Earlier dissimilarities between sites in the southern San Juan Basin and those in the northern basin largely disappear during PII times. The emergence of region-wide (relative) homogeneity in ceramics, architecture, subsistence practices, and settlement patterns has been interpreted as evidence supporting the inference that region-wide trade and exchange systems emerge in full force during PII times. One notable exception to this homogeneity is found in the Chaco Canyon region, where settlement in the Chaco heartland is typified by numerous small habitation sites distributed around fewer, but very much larger and more complex towns (central places) containing kivas, great kivas, reservoirs, dams, and roads. Sourcing studies suggest that non-local materials were being imported from far-flung parts of the Southwest.

These facts, combined with the panregional distribution of ceramics that are virtually identical, suggests that Chaco Canyon may have been the primary focal point for trade and exchange networks whose limits extended into northeastern Arizona, southern Colorado, and west-central New Mexico. Analyses of ceramics and chipped stone indicate that source areas for such critical resources gradually shifted over time from the southeastern part of the area (Zuni) to the western (Chuska) region and, finally, to the northern portion of the San Juan Basin. It is likely that these regions approximate the outer limits of this exchange and trading network. There is some evidence suggesting that turkeys and perhaps corn were among the crucial subsistence resources being imported into the Chaco region. If such inferences are accurate, reliance on imported foodstuffs underscores the tenuous agricultural conditions that prevailed across the central San Juan Basin during PII times.

Chaco Canyon, and the outlying sites related to it, are unique in Southwestern prehistory. One indication of the importance of

 

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Chaco is its designation in 1987 as a World Heritage locality (UNESCO 1987).

The Chaco phenomenon is defined on the basis of multiple attributes. There are two alternating site types great houses and villages viewed by many as indicative of economic and political differences inherent in the Chaco system. Multistoried great houses, usually consisting of upwards of 200 rooms, typically were constructed as a series of temporally discrete units (Kantner and Mahoney 2000, Saitta 1997). In contrast, surrounding villages usually consist of single story structures ranging from 20-40 rooms in extent. Obvious differences in site construction characteristics are underscored by the recovery of exotic goods in great house sites and the virtual absence of such goods in villages. Among these goods are copper bells, turquoise, shell jewelry, and macaws from Central America (Mathien and McGuire 1986, Toll 2001). Finally, great houses appear to be nodes for upwards of 70 constructed roads or road segments, often interpreted as remnants of transportation/communication routes (Renfrew 2001; Vivian 1997a, b).

Because the “Chaco phenomenon” is one of the most well-documented archaeological manifestations in the Southwest, it is no surprise that it provides a basis for widespread discussion of the factors that contributed to its appearance, operation, and eventual collapse. The phenomenon of “Chaco” has been viewed by different scholars as either (1) largely a local geographic phenomena that appears in response to generally favorable climatic conditions and is typified by redistributive activities or (2) as one component of a much larger Mexican-Southwestern interaction network founded largely on ideational factors. The characteristics of inferences necessarily vary considerably between these perspectives.

 

Chaco as a Regional System

 

Those who view Chaco as a somewhat localized Southwestern phenomena underlain by redistributive activities assume that Chaco exhibits attenuated links to other regions (e.g., Mexico). Researchers of this perspective generally focus on the occurrence of two alternating site types, great houses and villages, as well as the presence of exotic goods and constructed roads as consistent with strategies to control access to and redistribution of goods—both subsistence resources and trade items—across the San Juan Basin (Renfrew 2001).

Those advocating the presence of religicopolitical elites cite the presence of large proportions of non-residential rooms at great house sites as evidence for storage of surplus foodstuffs, which were then redistributed by elites residing in great house communities. There are differences of opinion on this theme primarily with respect to inferred degrees of political centralization, ranging from egalitarian (Vivian 1990) or ranked (Grebinger 1973) to chiefdoms (Earle 2001, Lekson 1999, Saitta 1997). Others, however, find insufficient evidence to conclude that hierarchical elites were present (Feinman et al. 2000, Saitta 1997, Sebastian 1992, Vivian 1997b, Windes and Ford 1996).

The presence of upwards of 70 constructed road segments, possibly built through some form of non-coerced or coerced communal labor (Saitta 1997), is viewed by some as reinforcing the notion of politico-religious authorities coordinating road construction to facilitate transport and communication across the San Juan Basin (Cameron and Toll 2001, Nelson 1995, Vivian 1997b). Among the activities inferred for Chacoan roads are transport of beams into great house communities for use in roof construction (Snygg and Windes 1998), as access routes for pilgrims to ceremonies and periodic markets centered in great house communities (Judge 1989, Malville and Malville 2001, Renfrew 2001, Roney 1992, Vivian 1997b), as routes for the movement of turquoise, much of which seems to have been used within Chacoan communities (Mathien 2001), or as routes for military activities undertaken to forcibly integrate outlying communities into the Chaco system (Wilcox 1994). Others, however, have concluded that

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these roads were too wide to have been designed simply as transportation routes, regardless of what might or might not have been transported (Roney 1992, Kantner 1997, Vivian 1997b).

Similarly, while exotic items of Mexican origin (e.g., copper bells, macaws) are known from Chacoan sites, those subscribing to the notion that Chaco was a regional network note that the overall quantity of such remains is too small to reflect widespread trade or exchange with Mexico (Renfrew 2001). At the same time, some have suggested that the value, not quantity, of exotic items from Mexico may be a far more important factor in evaluating the presence of such items at Chaco (Reyman 1995).

Finally, some see Chaco’s settlement system as based largely on cosmology (Stein and Lekson 1992). Specifically, the Chaco phenomenon is argued to have been predicated on shared ritual ideology linked to cosmological events (e.g., solstices, equinoxes) which, in turn, were manifested in the structured spatial arrangement of archaeological sites (e.g., kivas, shrines, rock art, water control features, and roads) across Chacoan landscapes (see also Sofaer 1997).

 

Chaco as a Pan-Regional System

 

Most recently, Lekson has proposed that Chaco may be part of a much larger Mexican- Southwest settlement system. Lekson (1999) focuses on the supposed alignment of structures found at the New Mexico sites of Aztec Ruins and Chaco Canyon, along with the site of Paquimé in northern Mexico, on a north-south axis running from nearly Colorado into northern Chihuahua. These complexes are suggested to be time-sequent residences of religico-political elites that moved in response to a succession of deteriorated environmental intervals. Specifically, he proposes that a politico-religious elite, originally resident in Chaco Canyon, moved successively to Aztec (ca. A.D. 1125) and then Paquimé (A.D. 1275).

What is perhaps most controversial about Lekson’s argument is the notion that the arrangement of these three sites along a given meridian represents a deliberate effort to construct sites according to some preconceived plan by a multi-generational elite that spanned more than 200 years and 630 kilometers.

Not surprisingly, there are objections to Lekson’s view of Chaco. For example, Phillips (2000) demurs about this model, observing that the alignment of these three sites along a given meridian may be more apparent than real and, moreover, that the presumptive similarity of architecture across these three sites is without foundation. Further, Phillips notes that, in particular, ceramic assemblages from Paquimé are quite dissimilar from Chacoan ceramics in general, suggesting that a time- and spacetransgressive elite is not responsible for constructing these three sites.

Summary

 

This very brief overview of varying perspectives swirling around the “Chaco phenomenon” simply underscores a number of points. First, there is an on-going debate about appropriate geographic scales of analysis, particularly with respect to settlement analyses. Second, as this discussion makes clear, there are debates regarding the nature of evidence from Chacoan sites and the inferences based on such evidence. Finally, while the San Juan Basin has perhaps the largest suite of dated sites in the Southwest, attempts to identify stimuli (environmental fluctuations) and possible responses (centralization, redistribution, migration) still rely on accurate chronologies. Only as issues of this sort are addressed will the Chaco phenomenon be more completely understood. Consequently, Chaco will remain one of the most important venues in the American Southwest for examining these issues.

PII components account for approximately 7 percent of the total known components in the planning area. However, dual PII-PIII components are quite common across the planning area, adding another 8 percent of the components that date to this broad time interval. During this period the Navajo

 

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Reservoir, Largo, Carrizo, Upper San Juan and Blanco watersheds are virtually abandoned, with populations shifting to the north, south and west. Population aggregation and community development is enhanced in these areas during the PII period. Large and complex communities are linked by formalized road networks within the San Juan Basin, with Chacoan Great Houses and communities tied to the central hub in Chaco Canyon.

On FFO and AFO lands in the planning area, there are 21 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period.

These include:

1. Jones Canyon (AFO)

2. Headcut Prehistoric Community (AFO)

3. Cañon Jarido (AFO)

4. Morris 41

5. Kin Nizhoni

6. Pierre’s Site

7. Halfway House

8. Twin Angels

9. Jacques Site

10. Holmes Group

11. Casamero Community

12. Toh-la-kai

13. Indian Creek

14. Upper Kin Klizhin

15. Bis sa’ani

16. Andrews Ranch

17. Church Rock Outlier

18. North Road

19. Ah-shi-sle-pah Road

20. Crownpoint Steps and Herradura

21. Bee Burrow

 

Other examples may be found that merit special designations. Still other examples of resources from this period are managed according to continuing management guidelines.

Pueblo III (ca. A.D. 1050 to 1300)

The Pueblo III (PIII) period is typified by the aggregation of populations into progressively larger centers, accompanied by the gradual collapse of the Chaco phenomenon that so defines early and middle PII times. Some researchers suggest that populations began to move northward into the northern San Juan Basin near Aztec, as well as southward out of the Mesa Verde region. Concurrent with Chaco’s gradual decline in importance is a seeming realignment of social interaction spheres northward toward Mesa Verde. For example, sites along the Chuska Mountains seem to evidence a period of increased building events, accompanied by the replacement of Chacoan ceramics with those more typical of Mesa Verde. As well, the appearance of bi- and tri-wall buildings, nominally characteristic of the Mesa Verde region at sites in the San Juan Basin, suggests the gradual outward expansion of Mesa Verde peoples into areas formerly containing Chaco components. Over much of this period, sites contain between 13 and 30 rooms, with larger sites exhibiting upwards of 200 rooms.

These changes are attributed to the onset of a period of dramatically decreased rainfall after ca. A.D. 1220, accompanied by increased spatial variability in rainfall across the basin as a whole. Areas adversely affected by reduced rainfall, the central and southern San Juan Basin, seem to act as donor areas for population out-migration, while areas less subject to reduced rainfall, like the Mesa Verde and McElmo regions, become recipient areas for immigrants. Many parts of the Basin appear to have been abandoned toward the terminal portion of the PIII period.

Approximately 6 percent of total known components in the planning area date to PIII times, yet they are some of the largest and most complex Puebloan settlements in the region. Further, as noted in the PII discussion, dual PII

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PIII components are quite common across the planning area, adding another 8 percent to the total known components dating to this somewhat broad interval. PIII components are virtually absent from the Navajo Reservoir area, while the Upper Largo and Rio Chama drainages exhibit large clusters of Gallina phase settlements. Concentrations of sites and large communities are found on the Chuska Slope and the Chaco River watershed, the Upper Puerco, Rio Chama, San Jose and Rio Puerco drainages, and the Lower San Juan and its tributary drainages, including the Animas, La Plata, and Mancos.

On FFO and AFO lands in the planning area, there are 23 ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period.

These are:

1. Jones Canyon (AFO)

2. Headcut Prehistoric Community (AFO)

3. Cañon Jarido (AFO)

4. Morris 41

5. Kin Nizhoni

6. Pierre’s Site

7. Halfway House

8. Twin Angels

9. Jacques Site

10. Holmes Group

11. Casamero Community

12. Toh-la-kai

13. Indian Creek

14. Upper Kin Klizhin

15. Bis sa’ani

16. Andrews Ranch

17. Church Rock Outlier

18. North Road

19. Ah-shi-sle-pah Road

20. Crownpoint Steps and Herradura

21. Bee Burrow

22. Farmer’s Arroyo Site

23. Chacra Mesa Complex

 

Other examples may be found that merit special designations. Still other examples of resources from this period are managed according to continuing management guidelines.

Pueblo IV (ca. A.D. 1300 to 1540)

 

Further movements of peoples into riverine valleys where relatively more reliable surface water supplies are found characterize the Pueblo IV (PIV) period. This marks an end to higher elevation agricultural endeavors dependent on rainfall and, perhaps, the explicit recognition that agriculture, if it was to be successful, had to rely on surface water. Sites dating to this period are generally small, containing between 1 and 4 rooms. A small subset of sites contains 100 rooms, while an even smaller subset of the largest sites contains upwards of 500 rooms.

Major settlements dating to this period are situated primarily in the Rio Grande, Rio San Jose, and Zuni River watersheds. As well, during this period, the first evidence of direct diversion irrigation systems appears among the pueblos along the Rio Grande.

Material culture also became more elaborate. For example, PIV coincides with the introduction of glaze-decorated ceramics and the use of red and yellow slips. Other examples of PIV material culture include mural paintings, petroglyphs, stone effigies, decorated pipes, and carved bone tools. The descendents of some of these groups are the contemporary Puebloan villagers.

The PIV occupation of the planning area is primarily limited to the Rio Chama watershed, where concentrations of PIV components comprise less than 1 percent of the total number of components.

On BLM lands in the planning area, there are no ACECs or SMAs that are actively managed to protect outstanding examples of cultural resources from this period. Other

 

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examples may be found that merit special designations. Still other examples of resources from this period are managed according to continuing management guidelines.


End of Farmington Proposed RMP/Final EIS

Chacoan models

The Pueblo peoples are linguistically diverse - Different Pueblos, despite cultural similarities, speak languages that come from completely different language families.

There is no ageement on how to classify Pueblo peoples. According to the wikipedia article on the Pueblo, Kirchhoff (1954) proposed a subdivision of the Pueblo Indians into two subareas: the Hopi, Zuni, Keres, Jemez group which share exogamous matrilineal clans, have multiple kivas, believe in emergence from the underground, have four or six directions beginning in the north, and have four and seven as ritual numbers. This group stands in contrast to the Tanoan-speaking Pueblos (except Jemez) who have nonexogamous patrilineal clans, two kivas or two groups of kivas and a general belief in dualism, emergence from underwater, five directions beginning in the east, and ritual numbers based on multiples of three.

Eggan (1950) in contrast, posed a dichotomy between Eastern and Western Pueblos, based largely on subsistence differences with the Western or Desert Pueblos of Zuni and Hopi dry-farmers, and the Eastern or River Pueblos irrigation farmers.

Ralph Beals, points to several weaknesses in Kirchoff's discussion of culture areas in the southwest United States. Kirchoff argues there are two major culture groups in the southwest, each with its own center. Beals holds this viewpoint difficult and cumbersome to apply to the southwest, and that Kirchoff should entirely drop it as the centerpiece of his argument in favor of the typological classifications he so often employs throughout the paper.To support his criticism of Kirchoff's work, Beals draws on Kroeber, Steward and Wissler to point out that in some geographical areas such as the Great Plains, it is possible to apply the concept of the geographical culture area. On the other hand, in a region such as the southwest, with its wide spectrum of environments and subsistence strategies, Beals believes that such an approach is oversimplifying an area that requires more of the typological analysis Kirchoff uses.

Linguistic differences between the Pueblos point to their diverse origins. The Hopi language is Uto-Aztecan; Zuni is a language isolate; Keresan is a dialect continuum that includes Acoma, Laguna, Santa Ana, Zia, Cochiti, Santo Domingo, San Felipe. The Tanoan is an areal grouping of three branches of the Kiowa-Tanoan family consisting of 6 languages: Jemez (Towa), Tewa (San Juan, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Tesuque, Nambe, Pojoaque, and Hano); and the 3 Tiwa languages Taos, Picuris, and Southern Tiwa (Sandia, Isleta).

Taking the term "Basket Maker" for the progenitors of the modern Pueblo from Richard Wetherill, Alfred Kidder (1927) defined the beginnings of Pueblo culture in three developmental stages at the first Pecos Conference:

Earl Morris further developed the Basketmaker classification. Basketmaker I people were the immediate forerunners of the Pueblo. Morris (1939:11) defined the period as a pre-agricultural, nomadic hunting stage with an economy marked by a gradual transition from following big game to a more sedentary pattern of harvesting wild plants and animals with some limited maize agriculture late in the sequence.

Morris defined diagnostic features for the Basketmaker II Period as:

dolichocephalic head form; formal burial practices; semi-nomadic lifeway; absence of substantial habitations; cultivation of maize; use of the atlatl (no bow and arrow); proficiently woven baskets and bags; and, importantly, the absence of fired pottery (1939:11).

Morris (1939:18-20) defined the Basketmaker III Period as marked by

brachycephalic head forms; elaborate types of pithouses with a range of architectural forms organized into villages; cultivation of corn, beans, and squash as well as domestication of the turkey; the bow and arrow replacing the atlatl, use of the hafted ax and mauls; more ground stone implements including manos and metates; and, importantly, fired pottery.

Subsequent research in the American Southwest has altered Morris' original interpretations putting the cultural traits of pithouses and pottery into the Basketmaker II period.

The term "Archaic" was used by Kidder and others in the 1910s and 20s. In his 1924 Introduction to the Study of Southwestern Archaeology, Kidder (1977:325) uses " Archaic" to describe a sedentary, Mexican culture (and chronological period) that grew corn and made pottery. Somewhat presciently he theorized that this "Archaic Mexican Culture" passed knowledge of corn agriculture on to the Basket Makers of the American Southwest sometime around 1500-2000 B.C.

In its more current sense, in the sequence of North American cultural stages marking the hunting and gathering adaptation by peoples between the end of the Paleolithic and the beginning of agriculture, the term "Archaic" was first popularized by Willey and Phillip (1958).

Building on Willey and Phillips (1958), Jennings (1956) and many others (e.g. Haury 1945; Wormington 1947; Antevs 1948; Martin 1951; Shoenwetter 1962; Dick 1965), Cynthia Irwin-Williams advanced the idea of an "Archaic spectrum" as a "continuum of development" leading to modern Pueblo culture. In her Post-Pleistocene Archaeology, 7000-2000 B.C. (1979:35) she says,

"The northeastern and southeastern portions of the Southwest were the last to be abandoned by Plains-based big-game-hunting groups represented by the Cody complex, which probably lasted until about 6000 B.C. By this time, the San Dieguito-Lake Mohave development was well underway in the western sector, and Cochise foragers already inhabited the south. Between these terminal Pa leo-Indian cultures and the succeeding Early Archaic, there is a brief hiatus that reflects the demographic withdrawal of the big-game-hunting groups in reaction to environmental stress. Subsequently, the northern Southwest was the focus of a long-term continuous development within the Archaic spectrum, which culminated ultimately in the formation of the central core of the relatively well-known sedentary Anasazi (Pueblo) culture. ..."

Between 1964 and 1971 Irwin-Williams and her associates carried out a long-term research program aimed specifically at defining the character of the "Archaic continuum" that underlay the evolution of sedentary Pueblo society. This research centered in the Arroyo Cuervo Valley in the Rio Puerco (East) drainage of northwestern New Mexico. On the basis of the work done there and distribution studies elsewhere in the northern Southwest, she concluded that the Archaic continuum defined in this region and termed the Oshara tradition is representative of the northern Southwest generally between about 5500 B.C. and A.D. 400.

Today most workers in the field consider the Basketmaker II period to be transitional between the latest stages of Archaic development and the first true "Pueblo" adaptations. Irwin-Williams defines this Basketmaker II stage of development as Archaic and labels it the En Medio Phase of the Oshara Tradition. She believes it provides a direct link to the Pueblo sequence (Irwin-Williams 1973:11). Hayes (1981) also combines it with the Archaic period, while Reher (1977) combines it with Pueblo culture.

Several theorists try to steer a middle path. Nichols and Smiley (1985) define the Basketmaker people as semi-sedentary farmer-foragers whose lifestyle falls between a highly mobile foraging subsistence strategy and sedentary agricultural adaptation. Huckell (1996) suggests using the terms "Late Archaic" and "Early Agricultural" to describe southwestern sites dating between 3500 B.P. and 2000-1500 B.P. with 'Late Archaic' describing regions where hunting and gathering predominate and 'Early Agricultural' describing areas where agriculture became established —a naming strategy followed by Sesler in her description of sites on Pump Mesa (Sesler and Hovezak 2002).

Note how many of the above definitions combine the concepts of culture area, culture period, cultural identity, material culture trait lists and economic behavior. The idea of cultural environment has largely dropped out of current practice though environmental determinism as a mechanism for cultural changes has not.

There has been a tendency by some to try to reduce the range of possible meanings for cultural affiliation. Elyea and Hogan (1983 22:393) say the term "Archaic" should refer to a hunter-gatherer adaptation, without the temporal or developmental connotations that are normally applied. In other words, people are Archaic when they hunt and gather and Basketmaker when they farm. Stuart and Gauthier focus on food storage as the critical trait bridging the shift from a mobile hunter-gatherer lifestyle to sedentary farming. They define the difference between Archaic and Basketmaker peoples as "population segments that collect and store seasonally and those that do not" (1988:112). Here we see a total reduction of cultural affiliation to traits associated with economic behavior.

Defining cultural groups, such as Archaic Oshara or ancestral Puebloan Basketmaker, tends to create an image of territories separated by clear-cut boundaries, like modern state lines. This is not a good model. Prehistoric people interacted with their neighbors. Some have proposed that cultural differences should therefore be understood as "clinal, increasing gradually as the distance separating groups also increases" (Plog 1997:72). But this "biological" model implies a kind of cultural uniformity in space that is not borne out by empirical evidence on the ground. It is overly simplistic and treats people like plants. People do define borders and frontiers on the landscape and believe that certain areas are their territory and are to be protected from incursions by other groups. These cultural landscapes shift their boundaries through time. The challenge for the archaeologist interpreting material evidence is not to reduce their subjects to mere biological entities and recognize that culture matters. We have to find ways to model culture that steer a path through over-interpreting the data (inventing religious, cosmic, psychic, or other intangible explanations that are not supported by evidence or reason) and under-interpreting it by ignoring what we know about human nature or reducing humans to theoretical ciphers of economic, sociobiolological or environmental deterministic theories.

That the protohistoric period presents us with peoples in the southwest speaking languages from a variety of different language families serves as evidence that there were several cultural groups from different traditions and different places converging in the southwest. It is highly unlikely that all were from a single cultural tradition or that all led to a single cultural complex.

Difficulties in classification also arise when there are large overlaps in time, space, and style. Corn was introduced to the San Juan Basin (Simmons 1986:73-89) and San Juan uplands (Honeycutt and Fetterman 1994) by the Middle Archaic period. At LA81694 on Pump Mesa, Dykeman and Wharton (1999) report two pithouse structures dating to B.C. 2500. Hefner (1987) reports a pithouse from Manzanares Mesa dating from B.C. 280 to B.C. 180 which most closely resembles Basketmaker III pit houses from A.D. 400 elsewhere in the region. Vogler et al. (1982:158) report that Gallegos Mesa may have been inhabited concurrently by two cultural groups, one late Archaic and the other Basketmaker. Hogan (1986) countered that the Gallegos Mesa sites belonged to the same group employing differing settlement and subsistence strategies.

Archaeologists, as analysts of material culture, try not to over-interpret their data. They tend to be empiricists and are usually conservative in their speculations. Nonetheless, they must sift through large quantities of data and find patterns that make the best sense of that data.

They have difficulty moving beyond the empirical to synthesize conclusions when the empirical data is lacking or ambiguous.


Beals, Ralph "Gatherers and Farmers in the Greater Southwest: A Problem in Classification: Comments". American Anthropologist August, 1954 Vol. 56 (4) 551-553.

Eggan, Fred. (1950).Social Organization of the Western Pueblos. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Kirchhoff, P. 1954  "Gatherers and Farmers in the Greater Southwest: A Problem in Classification". American Antiquity 29:529-550.

 

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