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  Evidence indicating Anasazi cannibalism is so dramatic that I propose it be accepted and the underlying causes and effects put into a balanced cultural and environmental interpretation of that era. Further studies into the basic role of anemia in North America pre-Columbian cannibalism are warranted and indeed, absolutely necessary to achieve a basic understanding of the dietary challenges faced by the many diverse Native American cultures that participated in cannibalism.
I propose this is the taloc face of anemia and perhaps cannibalism
“The Turners hypothesize that cannibalism was brought from Mexico into the Anasazi territory, perhaps by religious cultists. Cannibalism was common in Mesoamerica, dating back 2,500 years, and Turner believes the cultists used it to terrorize and control the Anasazi. Remains at the Puerco River site are very similar to remains of victims of ritual sacrifice in Mexico, Turner says. ‘We choose to see it as a group of people coming in and taking over in a very gang-like behavior,’ he said. ‘(Cannibalism) was their gimmick. This was their weapon’” (Gehrke).

“Food for thought. Man Corn–named after the Aztec word for a sacred meal of human meat–provoked a fire storm. Critics have charged him (Turner) with everything from shoddy science to racism. He countered with a widely distributed manuscript–rejected by American Antiquity–denouncing them as “professionally reckless,” “politically correct,” and “rude.”
Turner’s proposal that ancient Mexicans invaded from the south has aroused the most derision. “The idea of a [Mexican] goon squad is ridiculous,” says Kurt Dongoske, an archaeologist for the Hopi tribe. While remnants of trade with Mexico exist–pottery, copper bells, and macaw skeletons–there’s little evidence of Mexicans’ living in the area at the time. Turner’s theory hangs on one skull found with notched teeth, a practice common in Mexico but rare in the Southwest. “Turner stepped beyond his level of expertise,” sniffs Steven LeBlanc, director of collections at Harvard’s Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology
Turner has his allies. Tim White, professor of human evolutionary studies at the University of California-Berkeley, compared broken, scarred, and scattered Anasazi and animal bones from Mancos Canyon in Colorado and discovered striking similarities. He dismisses the reburial theory, saying no other society uses the same method to prepare food and bury its dead. Even so, he refuses to speculate about who was behind the cannibalism. ‘It’s too early,’ he says” (Hartigan).

“Regardless of whether one accepts Christie Turner’s theories of rampant cannibalism, he makes a convincing case that whatever led to these bone assemblages, it was violent and mutilative. Gastronomic customs aside, something terrible happened to these people and cannibalism is only one tentative detail in something far more complex. While people rush off to rewrite cannibalism into the history of the Anasazi or Ancestral Pueblo, it is important to note that it is as of yet uncertain who were the victims and their attackers” (Burn).

The tribes north of Durango and Sinaloa, Mexico eliminated cannibalism before the arrival of the Spanish (Lascano).

“I believe there were times in the Southwest when cannibalism was necessary. As a child, I heard stories of historic Pueblo people’s resorting to eating other people during times of extreme stress” (Swentzell).
“There were also people who had traditions of human sacrifice, who were also not admitted (into the Hopi)” (Emory Sekaquaptewa).

Chaco time period decline in the level of warfare. Significant increase in warfare after C.E. 1200 (LeBlanc) - My research indicates that the Chaco Canyon Anasazi developed strategies for producing large surpluses of corn which led to an extended period of relative peace, but eventually led to increased population, depletion of available dietary iron (local wildlife populations) and eventually increased warfare. The Chaco Canyon people likely intermarried with the peoples of the Great Sage Plain (Cortez-Dove Creek) in southeastern Colorado (Breternitz). As violence increased, people began to move permanently into the large centers such as Yellow Jacket, Lowry, Sand Canyon, and Escalante. As the Great Drought of C.E. 1276-1299 pushed the environment to the limit, the granaries were emptied of corn and people moved into

these structures until the abandonment in approximately C.E. 1280 (Kunkleman).

Chaco Canyon colonizers came into the established Great Sage Plain communities, intermarried and built their special style of great houses such as Lowry, Ida Jean, Goodman Point, Escalante, Sand Canyon, and Wallace. There were two distinct periods of colonization in the C.E. 1090’s and the C.E. 1120’s . Most, if not all, of the great houses were abandoned at about C.E. 1150 which marks the end of the Chaco era throughout the region. The entire region was abandoned by C.E. 1300 (Breternitz).

I propose that the Chaco Canyon Anasazi brought with them their design of great corn silos. It is my proposal that centralized storage facilities (grain silos) was one of the unique Chaco Canyon architectural innovations. The Great Sage Plain Anasazi adapted these as they proved to be an ideal way for long term storage of corn as well as a great social center where corn beer was perhaps one of the important motivators for the life style during this time period C.E. 1090-1275.

Abandonment and Reuse - “Twenty-five to thirty percent of the Anasazi could have survived with the resources available during the great drought” (C.E. 1276-1299) (Gummerman). I observe that archaeologists are not currently looking at the specific impacts of severe anemia, but rather are addressing a general decline in food resources throughout the region during the great drought.

It has been demonstrated that the Anasazi survived numerous droughts, and I believe their long term storage capacity in the system of silo/kivas may also have cushioned them in such a way as they could have survived the great drought as well. They certainly could have returned after the great drought, which they did not. I propose that it was a near extinction of large game animals throughout the region and the rarity of smaller game that made it virtually impossible for the Anasazi to reestablish their culture in the San Juan Basin. The large game animals may take hundreds of years to repopulate their former ranges preventing the Anasazi from returning after the drought. I further point out that there were previous abandonments in the San Juan Basin and that brief periods of re-population were possible for a short period of time. Chaco Canyon was abandoned in approximately C.E. 1150 and re-inhabited for a short period in C.E. 1250 by Aztec and Mesa Verde peoples (Bodnar).

copyright 2005 - Richard D Fisher -