THE NORTH AMERICAN SOUTHWEST is drier and less fertile than the Mississippi region. Even so, people settled and found ways to farm. Their villages, built of stone or adobe (clay and straw), are called pueblos, meaning “towns” in Spanish. Three main groups lived in different regions. The earliest people were the Hohokam, who lived in the deserts of the southwest from the 4th century BCE to the 15th century CE. The Anasazi lived in the northern desert from the 8th to the 14th centuries CE, while the southern forested highlands were home to the Mogollon people from the 4th century BCE to the 15th century CE. All were skilled craftworkers, making and trading pottery and ornaments.
THE PUEBLO FARMERS’ TERRITORY covered much of present-day Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico.
HOHOKAM - The Hohokam people were resourceful farmers. They diverted water from the rivers to irrigate the desert. They built dams of wood, sending the water through canals to their villages. Sticks, stone axes, and hoes were used to dig the canals up to 10 ft (3 m) deep, and soil was carried away in wicker baskets. By 800 CE, they had the largest ancient irrigation system in North America. - HOHOKAM PEOPLE GROWING CORN BESIDE A CANAL
CRAFTS AND TRADE - The Hohokam people made beautiful pottery and etched decorations on seashells, brought from the Pacific coast and Gulf of California through trade. The decorated seashells and pots were then traded for goods from other regions such as copper bells and pyrite mirrors from Mesoamerica.
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CLIFF HOUSES - In about 1200 CE, the Anasazi left their villages at the foot of Chaco Canyon and moved to settlements high up on cliff faces. They moved here for defensive reasons and to take advantage of the greater rainfall. They climbed up the cliffs using holes cut in the rock. - RUINS OF CLIFF PALACE, THE LARGEST CLIFF DWELLING IN NORTH AMERICA
BALL COURTS - Like Mesoamericans, Hohokam people also built ball courts where they played a game with rubber balls imported from Mexico. Hohokam ball courts were located on routes between villages and provided a meeting place for big gatherings. The largest court could seat 500 people. - RUINS OF THE BALLCOURT AT WUPATKI
ANASAZI - The Anasazi lived in a dry region with occasional heavy rain in summer, causing flash floods. They built walls to contain and channel the flood water into fields. This is called flood-water farming. The Anasazi lived in large yet compact villages. Pueblo Bonito in Chaco Canyon had a network of rooms and underground chambers. - PUEBLO BONITO
MOGOLLON - Like the Anasazi, the Mogollon were farming people who used rainwater and flash floods to grow crops. They are best known for their art—images of dancing people, animals, and spirit beings, which they painted on bowls or chiseled on rocks. - MOGOLLON PAINTING OF A BAT