3344 - Creating, Re-creating and Decoding Active Landscapes in the Prehispanic Pueblo Indian Southwest

Landscapes act in both the physical and ideational words of ancient (and modern) Native peoples of the American Southwest. For example, the physical ash plume of an 11 th century AD volcanic eruption in northern Arizona could be seen as far away as Chaco Canyon , New Mexico . This volcanic eruption features in Hopi oral history where it carries moral lessons for behavior. Ideationally landscapes are key features in migration histories that are re-created in pilgrimages and in ceremonies in villages. For instance, during the Hopi Niman ceremony, the village plaza is filled with dancers carrying green corn stalk so that the plaza resembles a cornfield. From an archaeological perspective, the plaza would also resemble a cornfield for its abundance of corn pollen, although no corn was grown there. Similar evidence of pine pollen and pine needles brought into plazas on the arm-bands of Rio Grande Pueblo dancers and on shade structures would indicate, to archaeologists, forests that are dozens of miles away. Mixtures of physical and ideational worlds are numerous. For example, there are hundreds of warrior petroglyphs on the imposing volcanic ridge that blocks the southern access to New Mexico ’s Galisteo Basin . There are also many examples of particular minerals that are quarried from specific places because of their ideational power. For example, potters from modern Acoma Pueblo gather clay from a particular source at Chaco Canyon , a place for which the Acoma people have a special affinity. Innovative theoretical approaches and new research methods are required to augment traditional archaeological understanding of such socio-natural landscapes. Minimally these must rely on traditional Native American perspectives and include ethnohistoric sources.

Keywords: landscape archaeology, agency, archaeological method

Author: Cordell, Linda (University of Colorado, Boulder, Ud States of Am / USA)


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