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.