Anasazi America: Seventeen Centuries on the Road from Center Place

Anasazi America: Seventeen Centuries on the Road from Center Place

Anasazi America: Seventeen Centuries on the Road from Center Place

Anasazi America: Seventeen Centuries on the Road from Center Place

Excerpt

The general theme of this book began as a brief keynote address made at the seventieth annual Pecos Conference, held at Chaco Canyon in August 1997. I delivered that address, "The Rise and Fall of the Chaco Anasazi: Lessons Learned," with some trepidation. First, it stressed the present as well as the past--a distinct departure from standard archaeological themes. And in the audience of nearly 700 sat many of the world's finest archaeologists, including a number of my own mentors. Nervously, I described the failure of the Chacoans to change course and adapt in order to avert the collapse of the impressive regional society they had created in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Foremost among Chacoan problems were misuse of farmland, the desperate economic and nutritional status of small farmers, the loss of community, and an inability to deal with climatological catastrophe. The parallels to modern America seemed obvious. I also argued that the Puebloan society which succeeded the Chacoans had adapted intelligently and strategically to minimize a recurrence of these problems. Finally, I ended the address with a simple query: "As we approach the millennium in modern America, can't we recognize our own problems and adapt as well as the Puebloans did, without first having to suffer the dramatic consequences of myopia in our own society?" Thankfully, the response was positive.

Nothing encourages a scholar so much as the approval of his colleagues, even if it is merely polite approval. Whether polite or heartfelt, this approbation spurred me to revise my "Ancient New Mexico" course at the University of New Mexico and to focus more on "past and present."

The 1997-1998 academic year was memorable. Favored by this new theme and an interesting mix of enthusiastic traditional and nontraditional undergradu-

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