The Anasazi Indians were an ancient tribe originating in the Southwest about 2,000 B.C. They are credited with the cliff pueblos of the Southwest. They evolved from a nomadic tribe to an agrarian society and are believed to have started the cliff pueblo developments around the time of Christ.
The Anasazi are considered to have been peaceful farmers. Their main crops were squash and beans and corn was later introduced. The corn stalks allowed the beans to cling to them and the squash provided ground cover to retain moisture in the soil. Thus, they were able to grow crops in dry ground, survived several periods of drought and preserved water for use during these times. They also saved dried corn is sealed jars for lean periods and developed sophisticated irrigation systems. Despite this ingenuity, scientists believe the Anasazi over-farmed their land, did not understand crop rotation and began producing significantly smaller harvests.
The Anasazi are believed to have peaked in number between 1050 and 1125 A.D. Scholars believe the presence of other nomadic tribes and a series of famines drove them from their long-time home, first northward into the Aztec regions of New Mexico, then south to the Casas Grandes region of Mexico about 625 kilometers away. At about 1300 A.D., the Anasazi seem to have disappeared and no one is really sure of what fate befell them. The modern-day Hopis and Zunis consider themselves descendants of the Anasazi.