Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Book Review: The Anasazi

The Anasazi: Lost Civilizations, by William W. Lace, Lucent Books, Detroit, MI, 2005
I must admit, this book was a bit boring, with too much something that kept putting me to sleep.  However, the Anasazi people are intriguing, and people still wonder why they abandoned everything.  The total abandonment, to never return, took place in a period of about 50 years. 
In this book I learned about the Chaco Canyon area.  This community was much larger than the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, but I had not heard of it.  In fact, they had constructed an intricate network of roads.  However the book points out the roads may not have been necessary through flat desert regions where they had no horses or wheels.  The reason for the roads is not clearly understood.
This book provides a good description of daily life, as limited by the passage of time.  It is believed the Hopi descend from the Anasazi and sometimes current customs of the Hopi are used to explain the Anasazi customs and religion. 
As for the quick abandonment, many theories are presented, and the truth is likely a combination.   Drought conditions in the area were frequent, there could have been warfare from without, there could have been internal struggles, are lastly, there could have been a pull to other areas—as they traveled, they encountered other places that seemed more hospitable and then did not return.  In the case of Chaco, which was felt to be a religious center, when the priests were not able to stop the droughts, they lost their religious influence, and consequently their resources and power as people no longer looked to them for guidance.   The Anasazi are believed to have mixed with the Pueblo Indians, of which there are 20 different tribes.

We are ageless; we are the blessed children of the Spirits.
We thought we always have been and always will be.
Yet, today the Spirits have forgotten Their promises.
The corn we plant, grow, and bless in Their names
Withers and dies in the fields tended by our people.
We have angered the Sun who stares at us from up high.
The Rain has abandoned us for our evil transgressions.
The Wind has sent others to steal food from our children.
The Elders have quested and dreamed with no answers.
We prayed in all the old ways and still we have no sign.
Our children cry in the night, yet we know not our crime.
The Sun, Wind and Rain Spirits have always protected us.
The Animal Spirits have always guided us to right path.
Was it not the Sun that pointed the way to our sky-home?
And the Wind that called us to the cliff-face we called home?
And the Rain that showed us where to plant our maize?
And the Lizard that taught us to walk to our sky-home?
And the Bird that taught us how to build with earth and straw?
They have left Their children alone, here in our sky-home.
We have prayed to the Spirits, but They do not answer.
We have dreamed with the Spirits, but we are ignored.
We have walked with the Spirits, but They show us no path.
The Spirits have abandoned us, here on the sky-path.
The Spirits have abandoned us, here in the sky-city.
The Spirits have abandoned us, here in our maize fields.
It is time to wander again the plains and the mountains...
It is time to wander again the desert and the forest...
It is time to take our children back to the Beginning...
Back to the lonely path that our ancestors called home...
Until the Spirits find us again, or we all join the Spirits.
We do this not for ourselves, but for our children's children.
We are ageless, we are Anasazi, and we are alone again.

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