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Secrets of the Anasazi

Friday, June 18, 2010

Why You Do Not Have (and Don't Want) Enemy Ancestors

When I first visited Chaco Canyon in northern New Mexico I got a creepy feeling. Who were these people? The staff, mostly Navajo and not descendants of the original inhabitants of the site, said they were the Anasazi, a Navajo term meaning "enemy ancestors." When I pressed for more answers, I was told they belonged to the Chaco Culture. They were Chacoans.

Anthropologists are used to calling people they don't understand a culture, but as I learned more of this one I don't think they had much of it. The culture of the Anasazi turns out to be one of head-hunting, terrorizing human slaves, drug use and cannibalism.


 Hamatsi, a Kwakiutl Indian of the cannibal spirit. Feldman.

In a book subtitled A History Forgotten, George Franklin Feldman dispels the parlor concepts and sanitized history surrounding Native American practices and pieces together the frightful truth. It is the only book on its topic:  Cannibalism, Headhunting and Human Sacrifice in North America (Hood:  Chambersburg, 2008), and the author's work was an uphill battle against political correctness.

Forget about the Donner Party. When anthropologists and explorers first encountered the monuments and ruins of the people politely called the Ancestral Pueblo they found widespread evidence of a cannibalistic society that had gotten out of control and succumbed to its own inhumanity.

"The best documented indication that the Baskemakers were headhunters is . . . Kinboko Canyon, evidence discovered by archeologist Samuel J. Guernsey of the Peabody Museum of Harvard in 1915, and reported in a 1919 publication of the Smithsonian Institution's Bureau of American Ethnology," writes Feldman in the chapter on the Anasazi. He goes on to describe this and other early excavations in the Four Corners area that were quickly hushed up and reburied in horror, including Battle Cave in Canyon del Muerto, now part of the Canyon de Chelly National Monument inside the Navajo Indian Reservation. We read now of flesh-stripping, bone crushing, roasting pits, and sliced off mastoids.

Around 950 A.D., eleven persons, including women and children, were killed and butchered, cooked, and eaten on Burnt Mesa in New Mexico north of the San Juan River. At a site near the Hopi villages in Arizona, a group of thirty individuals, forty percent under the age of eighteen, were slaughted and eaten. In a Colorado rock shelter, a large jar was found filled with splintered human bones. . .

The grisly record goes on and on. Feldman writes that by the year 2000 the number of such sites in the San Juan drainage where the Chaco Culture was centered had risen to forty (p. 136).

To their credit, the Indians who were the Chacoans' food supply eventually overthrew their masters and left the area to settle far away, on the three Hopi mesas in Arizona and along the Rio Grande in new pueblos that survive today such as Taos and San Juan. We suggest that the aristocrats of Chaco may have been subject to degenerative neurological disorders like kuru or mad cow disease. But whether they self-destructed or were destroyed by their subject population, it doesn't seem to make a lot of sense to claim them as ancestors.


Anonymous commented on 18-Jun-2010 04:50 PM

This is truly horrifying & reminds me of what I have since learned about some of the ancient, "high society" Mayan peoples. They were doing horrific things: inducing drug-induced states with enemas, having orgies, making sacrifices, etc. How do we ensure that in our quest for the truth we neither paint history with Pollyanna strokes nor denigrate entire groups of people living today based on the past? How do we find balance in our need for truth?

Anonymous commented on 27-Sep-2010 09:51 AM

As new scientific evidence arises, new FACTS will be discovered. The feeling I always have when I read comments and remarks on different Blogs is lack of education...Education can be found with a persons own research if they learn before they speak. We were not there...Human's are survivors, instinct to "live" can take one to "parts unknown"...We were not there, we do not know what occured...REALLY..meat is meat when one is starving...all prior beliefs will be washed away with the instinct to survive...it is just that way...: ) sn

Jay commented on 23-Nov-2010 10:17 AM

Whoa! Lighten up a little. First the elites don't appear to have been "overthrown" by the commoners; they apparently just walked away. It's hard to dominate when there's nobody to dominate. The Chaco period is an anomaly in the long history of the idigenous Southwest. They seem to have been using cannibalism as a form of political terrorism in order to bring the disparite groups under their control. They used sky-based religion and great feasts in the canyon in order to hold the congregation, however, it looks like the people were not too impressed with this reversal of their traditional religion. They were also concerned over the ammassing of such great power, and disgusted by the waste, which is attested to by the contents of the middens, especially at Pueblo Bonito. The mistake of the Chacoans is that they tried to turn the Puebloans all the around at once. There's been too much sensationalism already and this kind of approach just makes it worse We always somehow manage to miss the mark every time regardless of the data. Jay Peck Troy, NY

c armstrong commented on 22-Jan-2012 02:09 PM

I am a masters student in archaeology at a university that leads in the field of archaeology, especially in the southwest. My thesis has to do with Chaco Canyon based on actual research and actual field work. This is the first time I have heard this theory
that you employ here ,and it is incorrect according to the evidence and archaeology. Because you find a few sites with evidence of cannibalism does not make a culture cannibals. Today, in our culture, if someone was to archaeologically look at us from the
future, they would in fact find evidence of cannibalism in those same vicinities, from the last couple of hundred years (and remember that Chacoans were engineering great architectural buildings for over a thousand years), as you mention the Donner party.
Many times those cannibals are not from families anchored in those areas. In the past, invaders used this tactic to eradicate their enemies. You also point out that the 'commoners' (whatever that means) overthrew their dictators, which entails that the ‘commoners’
did not agree; they were likely a majority, so the majority culture were probably not cannibals if they overthrew their oppressors because of it (in your theory). These are European concepts of Kings and Peasantry. They did not have fences to cage any slaves,
in fact they had a road network that was highly technological in design. They had 4 story buildings, an advanced astronomy and astronomical observatories, they were miners and Pueblo Bonito, which you assume was evidence of waste, was in fact surplus storage
from a mine of turquoise. They were culturally connected to the cliff dwellings in Colorado, which are amazing feats of engineering. Another thing, the turquoise mine Pueblo Bonito operated is the largest and most advanced mine in North America from ancient
times. They mastered the flow of water in a dessert-like drainage canyon, where their water came from flood-waters cascading off the mesa tops. They had flood gates and water storage canals for their gardens. They had canals on top and in the canyon that directed
water to their gardens. They were a central trade hub (flea market) on major cross-roads (even today the main highway that comes out of Central America Mexico crosses I-40 in roughly the same location). There is trade evidence from central America (Macaw feathers,
shells from the pacific coast, and of course their turquoise shows up all over the place in distance locations. These people, the Chacoans, were a very accomplished CULTURE. Simply because the neighboring tribe of the Navajo called them ‘old enemy warriors’
does not make them evil; remember, they traded with the Navajo. My conclusion, is that the majority of Chacoans deserve respect as a sane culture, although at times different than our own. You cannot choose your ancestors, but I assure you the Chacoans deserve
your appreciation of their culture. There is much more to be learned from the Chacoans. You gave examples of your ‘proof’ of cannibalistic Chaco. Only one of your examples is even a place in the Chaco cultural area. Also, your crazed-shaman-on-drugs picture
is from a tribe located in Canada, very, very, far from the American Southwest. I recommend you get a degree in archaeology if you value facts. You make too many assumptions, and you know what happens when you assume. Read some actual academic books on the
subject. Chacoans were very advanced mathematicians specializing in geometry, at least their engineers were. I cannot show you a cannibal in Chaco, but I most certainly can show you a very advanced engineer, and he would not look anything like the Kwakiutl
person in the picture, but even he deserves respect. It is a remarkable picture but out of place. Franz Boaz, the father of modern anthropology, studied the Kwakiutl Indians from Canada. He officially began modern anthropology with native tribes. He had a
European approach and may have not got everything right in his interpretations of the Kwakiutl, but like his contemporary Sigmund Freud or Albert Einstein, these people may have not got everything right but they started us on the roads to modern cultural revolutions.
Shamans did not use drugs the way teenagers today do it was a spiritual endeavor. Similar to wine in some religions. One more point I want to make. Many people that twist the idea of cannibalism into serial killer mentality must remember that the most prominent
religions of our time utilize a ritual that is a metaphorical depiction of eating the body (cannibalism) and drinking the blood (vampirism) of a religious figure. Communion may not be understood from a culture outside the one undergoing the ritual. To the
person in that culture the ritual is not an evil act.

Anonymous commented on 22-Jan-2012 03:52 PM

To C. Armstrong: Good points, and thank you for this long comment. I'm not an anthropologist, only a book reviewer in the present connection. You mention Frank Boas as the father of modern anthropology. As far as I'm concerned he should be regarded as
its step-father. He and his school are far from objective and seem to specialize in a sort of reverse racism, practicing paternalistic views of "our Native Americans." The dominance of Boaz dogmas has done incalculable harm, IMHO, to the truth.

leslie commented on 27-Apr-2012 09:36 PM

I don't think that " It is the only book on its topic" and not even the first. You might want to take a look at: Man Corn: Cannibalism and Violence in the Prehistoric American Southwest by Christy G. Turner (1998) Prehistoric Cannibalism at Mancos 5MTUMR-2346
by Tim White (1992) The Taking and Displaying of Human Body Parts as Trophies by Amerindians - edited by Richard Cachon & David Dye (2007) Dinner with a Cannibal by Carol A. Travis-Henikoff (2008) - this book is a great overview of cannibalism worldwide and,
for me, quite thought proving concerning the definition of "cannibalism". I personally believe that cannibalism was used during the time of the Anasazi primarily as means of political control through terror. Though it may have been practiced during times of
privation, the fact that the one piece of undeniable proof of "Anasazi" cannibalism was gleaned from a human coprolite that had been deposited in a hearth is telling. People who are eating their dead because they are starving are unlikely to be using their
hearths as latrines. I am interested to learn more about Navajo/Chacoan trade. My understanding is the Navajo moved in around 1300CE which is after/during the "collapse" of the Chaco Phenomenon in the southwest. I believe that Chaco Canyon itself was"abandoned"
by that time. But what do I know, I haven't set foot in an anthropology department for over 30 years and never went beyond a BS.

Dale Barry commented on 17-Sep-2013 01:27 PM

Interesting. It is possible that they may have being the warriors of old. Off spring of the Nephilim. Giants formed through the dark angels sexual intercourse with Gods earthly Women.

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