Who were the Cliff-Dwellers?


More than 1,500 years ago there was an Indian tribe in America who lived in homes dug in the walls of cliffs. They were the Anasazi Indians, and their homeland was “the four Corners” region, where the present states of Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and new Mexico come together.

Anasazi is a Nevahoword which means “old peoples”. They were the ancestors of the Pueblo Indians who live in the Southwest today. These early Indians were hunters, food gatherers, and farmers. They Lived in small villages in groups of 30 to 60 persons, all of whom were related.

Later they built large houses with rooms joined in straight or curved lines. Such villages are called “pueblos”, from a Spanish word which means “villages”. Many of the villages were made up of caves high up on the sides of the canyons.

The cliffs were chosen so that they faced the south and thus ware warm and sunny during the winter. At sometime between the years 1050 and 1300, the small villages grew into large towns. these towns were made up of large apartment buildings, sometimes, numbering several hundred rows of rooms.

They were one to four stories tall, with terraces on each floor. The back wall of a cave was one end of the room. The ceilings were low and held up by poles. The doorways were also low, facing out on the canyon. Every apartment village had a number of meeting rooms.

Called “kivas” where the men held their social gatherings and their secret religious meetings. These kivas were underground. Placed up high on the cliffs were watchtowers with loopholes. watchers could call out a warning and men working below could scramble up the cliff, pulling their ladders after them.

Without  ladders the enemy could not hope to conquer even the smaller Villages. Besides growing crown, beans, bag, and blankets. about the year 1300, they suddenly left their cliff homes and moved southwards. Nobody knows to this day what caused this move!

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