Clovis Culture: Ancient and Diverse Landscapes of the American Southwest - Essay Sample

Paper Type:  Essay
Pages:  7
Wordcount:  1752 Words
Date:  2023-05-05


Clovis is a name given to the oldest and most prevalent culture noticeable in the archaeological of the western hemisphere. Based on radiocarbon dating they existed between 11,500 and 10,800 years ago (Mabry, 2000). The American southwest is a huge region of disparities and diversity (Cordell & McBrinn, 2016). Its physical vegetation includes forested mountains, tablelands noted with sparse landscape and expanses of desert covering lush streamlined oases. Some mesas comprise layers of sandstone and shale. The surviving of the finer sandstones can build caves, and rock-shelters, where some Native American ancestors establish their homes, including the cliff dwellings of Mesa Verde, Colorado (Griffin-Pierce, 2000). Within the outspread of the United States, the Southwest region is home to one of the largest number of indigenous people who continue to reside in their original homelands, and retain their languages, ways of life, beliefs and strong values while participating fully in the twenty-first-century life. The profound history of the inhabitants of the Southwest, and the resilience of their culture through different eras provide us with the chance to start understanding some of the problems of concern to the contemporary people. For instance, how to sustain their food supply over the foreseeable future notwithstanding the challenges of the harsh weather, and unpredictable climate. Further, how to maintain diversity within human society as a whole so that significant reservoirs of traditional knowledge are not abandoned (Cordell & McBrinn, 2016). The paper will trace the culture, values, and agricultural practices of the indigenous people of the Southwest region.

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The paper will also examine the American Southwest indigenous people through Archaeology. During the mid-sixteenth century, the American Southwest natives embraced the farming of corn, beans, squash, collecting wild plant foods, and hunting (Cordell & McBrinn, 2016). The majority of them resided in one place, and also depicted the archaeological elements in their lifestyles, such as ceramic containers for cooking and preservation of food, and they also established native methods of conserving moisture and farming (Glomi, 2020). These indigenous people have erected some permanent and attractive architectural sites in North America (Douglass & Gonlin, 2012). For example, the Cliff dwellings of Messa Vere in Colorado and Canyon de Chelly, Arizona, the formal, multi-storeyed stone towns of Chaco Canyon, in New Mexico, the vast adobe structures, effigy mounds and ball courts of Casas Grandes in Chihuahua are all considered as tremendous structures in the world today (Cordell & McBrinn, 2016).

The Introduction of Maize Agriculture in the Southwest Region

The Southwest Natives resided in the low basins of the Sonoran desert, the higher and sparingly wooded mesas of the Colorado Plateaus, and the higher wooded and forested mountain masses of Central Arizona (Cordell & McBrinn, 2016). Based on agricultural practices, these indigenous people embraced the cultivation of maize, corn, and other practices like fishing, hunting, and gathering. The habit of farming maize was introduced in this region not later than 2100 B.C (Merrill et al., 2009). The earliest indications for maize in the Southwest region originates from three open channels, and two rock-shelters in Arizona and western New Mexico. The old corn is another site that was located in an elevated valley on the southeastern edge of the Colorado Plateau and the Three Fir Shelter that was located along with the central parts of the Colorado Plateau near the north rim of Black Mesa (Merrill et al., 2009). Based on archaeological data for the region between Mesoamerica and the US southwest region can be dated back in 4300-2100 B.C. The spread of maize from Mesoamerica to the U.S. southwest region was evidenced through group-to-group diffusion. Further, the antique agricultural elements of these sites show progress with longstanding foraging cultures, and the ensuing features are regular with demographic and behavioral aspects of the indigenous people residing within the region (Merrill et al., 2009).

Grebinger (1973) argued that the social organization of the natives of two different types of sites in Chaco, Canyon, New Mexico was dissimilar. The inhabitants of "villages" were grouped according to a concept of localized corporate lineages, while the residents of "urban centers" were socially organized according to the principle of dual division (Grebinger, 1973). The water regulatory systems were built after the establishment of the rank society, and the reason behind its development was in response to a cluster of increasing population and advancing heavy summer rains in the Southwest region. Grebinger (1973) also provided some archaeological underpinnings after AD 850. He stated that after A.D. 850 villages and towns started to emerge, and they had different architecture in terms of burial pattern and settlement drawings. For example, town sites like Pueblo Bonito Penasco Blanco, and Una Vida became significantly larger that the villages in the 10th century (Grebinger, 1973). The classic Chaco town locations that are known today, including Penasco Blanco, Pueblo del Arroyo, just to name a few were a result of the major construction. The Chaco Canyon sites embraced a single social structure. The rank societies were also evident since the indigenous people residing in the Southwest region had differential access to natural resources, a state of imbalance of significant evolutionary potential (Grebinger, 1973).

History Overview of the Pima County

During the Paleoindian era (1000 B.C.-8,000 B.C.) hunters used the technique of throwing sticks while hunting and gathering (Pima County Government, 2000). The American southwest region had a hot and arid climate, hence there was a need to conserve the Sonoran desert. In the previous periods, like early and late Pleistocene the climatic conditions were much coolers and rain droplets than the hot and dry conditions experienced today (Holliday et al., 2009). Conversely, Pima county contrasted to the one during the Paleoindian era where the Southwest region natives resided. For example, Juniper-oak woodlands and open grasslands surrounded the land. The natives during the Paleoindian period contacted several animals that are currently not in existence, including species of mammoth, camel, bear, large cat and wolf (Pima County Government, 2000). The hunters during this era slaughtered these species with skillfully designed spear points and butchered their carcasses with blades and stone bifaces (Holliday et al., 2009). The remains of these distinctive tools in tandem with bones of extinct animals allowed archeologists to recognize Paleoindian kill zones, slaughtering areas.

The indigenous people who lived in the American southwest region during the Archaic period (8000 B.C- A.D.200) were described as hunters and contemporary farmers. These natives who resided in the Southern Arizona regions shifted their focus from hunting to smaller games and plant materials through cultivation. Therefore, they started t use stones for gnashing seeds, roasting pits, and bedrock mortars. The few who resulted in hunting used throwing sticks called Atlantis, threw darts tipped with sharpened and notched points to their target species. The archaeological data shows that Southern Arizona was resided occasionally by humans during the season of warmth (Pima County Government, 2000). The focus on solely farming practices was evidenced during the Late Archaic period. Further studies, shows that these indigenous farmers resided in small villages, and used pit structures for shelter from the elements, cooking, preservation techniques, and tool repairs (Pima County Government, 2000). It is significant to note that hunting and gathering continued but at a smaller scale than farming.

The Pre-Classic Phase (A.D. 200- A.D. 1150) was characterized by Sonoran desert farmers. It was a period where ceramic figures and small pots were made. Early archaeologists elucidate that these small ceramic pots were to store crop seeds and food crops and was significant in up-scaling the early farming practices (Glomi, 2020). In Pima country, Hohokam conducted a heightened irrigation farming in the primary river valleys, and dry and floodwater farming elsewhere (Pima County Government, 2000). The ballcourts were developed during this period, and they had a round shape, flat floor with earthen berms that acted as "bleachers" and were also used in the Mesoamerican ball game. However, by the end of the Pre-Classic phase, these ballcourts were no longer being used, and alterations in the size of villages and locations had occurred.

The Classic Period (A.D. 1150-A.D. 1450) was characterized by platform mound inhabitants. During the start of this period, significant changes started to take place in the life of Hohokam. Individual communities became more compact and leveled adobe structures replaced the pit-houses that existed in the previous period (Pima County Government, 2000). The Hohokam indigenous people in the Classic period cultivated, hunted wild animals, and collected edible and therapeutic plants in ways parallel to those of their prior ancestors. Conversely, they also progressed with the art of innovatively designing and decorating the pots through archaeological styles and motifs (Ciolek-Torrello, 2012). In Pima county, the use of ceramics was also evident during this period. Regardless of the alleged success of the Hohokam in acclimating to and designing the Sonoran desert vegetation, their reign eventually resulted and they returned the desert to its own natural devices (Ciolek-Torrello, 2012).

The Protohistoric/Spanish Arrival Period (A.D. 1450-A.D. 1700)

This era is also known as the bridging of prehistory and history periods. Pre-history is a term that refers to the period before the invention of writing techniques. However, in the U.S. southwest perspective, the term "pre-historic" is also significant as it refers to the era which happened before the climax of the Hohokam Classic Period (Cordell & McBrinn, 2016). The prehistoric period climaxed when the Spanish explorers reached the Pima County. For example, in A.D. 1539, the first European explorer Fray Marcos de Niza passed through Southern Arizona on his way to authenticate stories of treasure situated in the north (Cordell & McBrinn, 2016). Spaniards broadened into the Southwest region from two perspectives at distinct times. First, exploration and colonization were introduced from Central Mexico to New Mexico. The secondary urge for this invasion was Spain's impetus for mineral wealth and the colonists' desire for land and indigenous labor. The religious push was to fulfill their desire to convert the indigenous people religion from the Catholic church to Christianity.

In the entire, 17th century the number of inhabited southwestern native Indians decreased due to several reasons such as increased disease, crop failures, slave trade, and inter-tribal clashes. The lengthy established trade and social networks were damaged and former allies entered into deadly raids. These natives forced the Spaniards out of New Mexico, and send them out for 12 years. In an attempt to destroy every vestige of the Spanish presence, the American Indians flamed archival records. The Spanis Crown gave land to individual settlers and also those who resided in the Indian villages. As opposed to Spain, the moment Mexico gained independence in 1821, it allowed trade to happen with the United States.

Contemporary Natives

The indigenous people residing in the United...

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Clovis Culture: Ancient and Diverse Landscapes of the American Southwest - Essay Sample. (2023, May 05). Retrieved from

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