Saturday Art: Petroglyphs in Bandelier National Park
In Bandelier National Park, NM, a trail leads from the visitors’ center into areas of history well worth your time. The native tribes that lived in the area are gone, but their art and their former homes remain. In some places, there are ladders you can climb up into former cave dwellings.
Anasazi” is the name used by most archaeologists since 1936 to describe this culture as separate from others in the Southwest Tradition cultural grouping, like the Hohokam and the Mogollon. In the early years of Southwestern archaeology, when we knew little about these people, they were known as Cliff Dwellers. The Anasazi probably called themselves simply “The People” in their language. So do most of their ancestors, each in their own language.
Anasazi is a Navaho (more correctly, “Diné” or “Dineh”) word which, depending on pronunciation, means either “enemy ancestors” or “ancient people who are not us.” Many modern Puebloan descendants of the Anasazi object to the use of this term. The Hopi use the word Hisatsinom to describe their ancestors. Sometimes the Hopi word Moqui (or Moki), meaning “the dead,” is used.
In addition to the drought and marauding enemy theories, scientists suggest that things like poor sanitation, pests, and environmental degradation may have caused the Anasazi to move. If those other explanations require more of a stretch of imagination, there is yet another to ponder: the Anasazi communities may have gotten bigger than the culture could handle. The internal stress and strife, along with the external factors might have just made life too uncomfortable.
We can wander among relics that we don’t understand and widen our own horizons. It’s a way to connect, and experience our Southwest. Hopefully you’ll get the opportunity too. Take water and a hat.