Message #365:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Re: Hisatsazi Anasinom ?

[ AzTeC / SWA SASIG ] :

From: Tom Vaughan

Can't stay away from this one.

Some time ago I posted a query on the earliest use of 'Anasazi' in archeological 
circles. The results seemed to confirm that, other than a couple of citations in which 
an author noted that the Navajo term for the departed Puebloan people was 'anasazi', the 
adoption of the term as a cultural designation in anthropological literature seems to 
originate with Kidder in 1935. 

It's not graven in stone tablets; it's something we've become accustomed to using as a 
convenient shorthand for people who have turned out to much more diverse than we once 
thought. Seems to me, what the archeologist giveth, the archeologist can take away! 
Folks got along fine without the term before 1935, and I haven't found it in Judd's 
Pueblo Bonito, published long after it was in common usage.

I guess my real problem with 'Anasazi' stems from my background as an interpreter. It is 
not solely an in-house term; it is used in the popular literature, exhibits, etc. In 
that context, it sends two false messages to the public:

	1. The term is only applied to prehistoric materials and people, therefore the 
Anasazi did not live in historic times. This feeds the chamber of commerce romantic myth 
that they were a people who mystically (or magically) disappeared without a trace (or 
identifiable offspring).

	2. The use of a single term for these people, whether Anasazi or Hisatsinom or 
something else, implies a homogeneity of all who receive the designation. I don't think 
that's defensible in the face of the demonstrable linguistic diversity at the time of 
contact, as well as the diversity in social organization and facets of material culture. 
As an interpreter, I think 'Anasazi' has become a crutch, a barrier even, that provides 
an easy way out and does not force us to deal with the diversity and complexity that 
actually existed. This can tend to give visitors a shallow, superficial view that does 
not require them to examine social processes in depth and relate them to their own 
knowledge and experience.

Personally, I think the time to consign 'Anasazi' to history is overdue (EXCEPT in the 
context of what the Navajo call those people).

As Dennis Miller says after he goes on a rant, "This is just my opinion; I may be 

Tom Vaughan    "The Waggin' Tongue"          
   (970) 533-1215           
11795 Road 39.2, Mancos, CO 81328  USA                            
Cultural Resource Management, Interpretation, Planning, & Training