Message #367:
From: AzTeC SW Archaeology SIG
To:   "'Matthias Giessler'" 
Subject: Formerly Known As
Date: Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 17:47:18 -0700 (MST)

[  AzTeC / SWA SASIG ]:


Date: Sun, 26 Oct 1997 18:49:05 -0700 (MST)
Tom, You might use Ancient Pueblo Peoples. I suspect, however that no matter what you 
do, archaeologists will do whatever they have been doing. Remember also that there is no 
single word for ancestors that is the same in all Pueblo languages, and the the Mogollon 
are also Ancestral Pueblo. Cheers, Linda Cordell, Director  CU Museum

Date: Sun, 26 Oct 1997 21:26:00 -0700
From: (bill lipe)
I remember looking for the earliest archaeological usage of "Anasazi" some years ago, 
and like Tom Vaughan, I came to the conclusion that the earliest published reference was 
by Kidder in the mid-1930s.  However, I can't remember the specific reference, and I 
didn't see the messages that responded to Tom's earlier inquiry about when this term 
gained currency in the archaeological literature.  Tom, could you give us the citation 
to the Kidder publication where he used "Anasazi" in the mid-1930s? Was it in one of the 
volumes on The Pottery of Pecos? 

A few additional notes and thoughts on this topic: In the introduction to his classic 
monograph on Alkali Ridge, J.O. Brew (1946) rails against the use of the term "Anasazi" 
on the grounds that a Navajo term is inappropriate for an obviously Puebloan culture, 
and that "Basketmaker-Pueblo" or "Puebloan" has precedence in the literature and would 
do just as well for continued reference to this cultural tradition. ("Puebloan" of 
course, is a Spanish term, but that did not seem to concern Brew.) 

In his biography of Richard Wetherill,  McNitt (1956) implies that in the 1890s, Richard 
Wetherill was using the Navajo term "Anasazi" to refer to the early people of the Four 
Corners area. (However, McNitt does not to my knowledge cite any specific letters or 
notes of Wetherill's in which this usage is documented.)  I have always assumed that 
Kidder picked the term up from Richard's brother,  John Wetherill, when Kidder was 
working in the Four Corners area, because of John Wetherill's role as host and guide to 
archaeologists in the early 20th century.    I can't remember whether I was able to 
verify this in anything that Kidder published, or whether this was just my inference.

In his book of reminiscences "Men Met Along the Trail," Neil Judd (1968) mentions using 
the Navajo term "anasazi" in SE Utah in 1907 to ask Indians the whereabouts of ruins (in 
this case, the Indian asked was a Ute, who led Judd on a long, hot ride that ended with 
the Ute pointing to the Mormon cemetery in Bluff, Utah).   Judd met Kidder that summer 
of 1907, and could also have been the one who introduced the term to him, since he had 
numerous chances to interact with Kidder in the decades that followed.  (It appears that 
Judd had not yet met John Wetherill in the summer of 1907, although he did meet him in 

My guess is that this Navajo word was pretty generally known by archaeologists working 
in the Four Corners area in the early 20th century, but that it was not introduced into 
the literature until there was a need for a word that did not imply a particular 
cultural history (as does "Pueblo"), and also a need for something equivalent in level 
to the other major late prehistoric cultural traditions that were being recognized and 
defined about then (e.g., Fremont, Hohokam, Mogollon, Patayan, Sinagua). 

I think that the main reason that "Anasazi" caught on in the middle 1930s is that it did 
not imply any particular cultural relationships--even in translation, it just means 
something like  "the ancient ones."   In the heyday of archaeological taxonomies, one of 
the recognized principles was not to use the name of a historically known cultural group 
to refer to an archaeological tradition or complex, unless one was talking about the 
archaeological manifestation for which there was contemporary historical or ethnographic 
documentation.  Since writing cultural histories was thought to be the primary goal of 
archaeology, it was bad practice to pre-judge the historical conclusions by identifying 
a prehistoric archaeological complex with some historically or ethnographically known 
culture.  That should be based on systematic analysis of the evidence, and conclusions 
could change as new evidence came in.  So the names should be culture-neutral, but the 
named units could then be linked up historically, either in narrative terms, by use of 
general concepts such as "tradition,"  or by use of hierachical phylogenetic-like 
systems such as those promulgated by the Gladwins and by Colton.  Now that writing 
cultural histories is becoming important again, I think would be well to keep this 
"culture-neutral names"principle in mind. 

As a replacement for Anasazi, the term "Ancestral Puebloan" is sort of on the edge here.  
On the one hand, there is precedent for it, as Brew points out, and after a hundred and 
twenty years of research, surely we ought to be willing to give the archaeological 
phenomena a name that expresses the larger cultural relationships of these folks.   It 
seems clear that the masonry house-building, b/w pottery-using cultures of the Four 
Corners area contributed in various ways to the formation of the Eastern and Western 
Pueblo cultures of the historic period.  It also seems clear, however, that historic 
Pueblo cultures also show evidence of various influences from areas south of the regions 
usually assigned to "Anasazi" (i.e., from cultures or culture areas called Mogollon, 
Salado, Upper Little Colorado, the "Western Pueblo" complex (Reed), or whatever).  It is 
also clear that there was a lot of cultural change throughout the SW in the turbulent 
period A.D. 1250-1400.  And of course, there is the distinct possibility that some 
communities or sub-traditions of "Ancestral Puebloan" did not make much or any cultural 
contribution to any of the historic period Pueblo cultures, either because their 
populations perished in place, or were absorbed by Numic groups, or for other reasons. 

My main concern here is that we not use a terminology that implies that there is a 
simple, seamless, unchanging, one-to-one historical connection between the "Ancestral 
Pueblo" (nee Anasazi) and all (and only) the Pueblo cultures of the historic period and 
of today.   On the other hand, as Tom points out,  archaeologists do need to share with 
the public the archaeological evidence for the historical connections between past and 
present cultures.   But do we need to do it all with a single term?  I guess what we 
need to think about is how to express the idea that yes, there are significant cultural 
continuities between the pre-A.D. 1300 cultures of the Four Corners area and the Pueblo 
cultures of the historic period and of today, but no, they are not all identical and the 
historical relationships are complex.

Now that cultural history is of theoretical and practical interest again, I think we 
need to resurrect or develop some appropriate method and theory for doing it sensibly, 
and some appropriate terminology to go with this effort.  Perhaps we will find that the 
terminology used for archaeological analysis will have to differ from that used for 
public interpretation.  I suspect that we will reinvent a lot of the work done by the 
Boasians and the taxonomic archaeologists of the 1920s-50s, but perhaps we can do 
better.  We have computers now, and that will help. Good starting points might be to 
recognize that "cultures" are radically polythetic units;  that most cultural traits are 
not confined by community or society boundaries; that cultural units based on 
empirically-determined trait associations will be pretty generalized and will not 
necessarily match with communities or societies as defined by social institutions;  and 
that with the passage of time, relating particular traits or sets of culture traits to 
particular social groups (communities, societies, nations) or to particular biological 
groups (populations) is quite problematic, but an interesting challenge. Best, Bill Lipe 

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 11:28:57 -0800
From: Lynne Sebastian 
Tom and Linda, We had settled on prehistoric puebloan as a generic term to get away from 
"Anasazi,"  but the Navajo Nation's  THPO objects strongly to that construction because 
it "implies that the Navajo are NOT decended from the Anasazi."  This particular effort 
to find a politically correct term  is probably doomed.   Lynne Sebastian 

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 15:24:54 -0700 (MST)
Lynne & Tom,     Re: Prehistoric Pueblo whatever..."prehistoric" is currently anathema 
among the Puebos since it implies a disrespect for tradtional, oral history. I no longer 
use the term. Of course, I agree that the whole thing is hopeless. Cheers, Linda Cordell

Date: Mon Oct 27 15:51:26 1997
From: (don fowler)
Another cent and 1/2 worth: I think Tom is right about the first archaeological usage by 
Kidder in 1935 or 1936.  While it's being discussed, what about "Hohokam"? Is "all used 
up" (one "definition" of the term) OK with the Pima and O'Ohdam? Hohokam seems to have 
been used first by Frank Russell in 1908 and is used by Ellsworth Huntington in 1912; 
like Anasazi it is an archaeological application. "The Southwest" is offensive to some 
Mexican archaeologists, and the p.c. usage is "North American Southwest," as opposed to 
the "Greater Northwest," or "Gran Chichimeca," as seen from Mexico City. Mogollon, at 
least, seems OK, until we hear from descendants of the late Spanish governor. A final 
note: Kidder used "Anasazi" to combine two earlier terms: Basketmaker and Cliff Dweller, 
the former defined by R. Wetherill and T,M. Prudden, the latter by W.H. Jackson and W.H. 
Holmes in 1875/76. Maybe an acronym of the two terms?  Finally, I agree with Tom that 
archaeologists have changed their terminology in the past and can again if it is deemed 
necessary by all parties. But, getting the terms out of the popular culture, including 
another Southwest favorite, "kiva," will be difficult. Don Fowler 

Date: Mon, 27 Oct 1997 17:47:18 -0700 (MST)
From: david a jr phillips 
The solution should be obvious to any rock fan.  We need to devise an unpronounceable 
logo, which will stand for "the culture formerly known as Anasazi." Dave Phillips