Anasazi is a Navajo word meaning "ancient peoples." These early Native Americans settled throughout the canyon and mesa (flat-topped hill) country of the Southwest. Their culture had emerged in the Four Corners region (Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah) by a.d. 400.
The Anasazi moved from subterranean dwellings (called pit-houses) and constructed aboveground masonry buildings, some with more than 1,200 rooms. Ruins at Mesa Verde (Colorado), Chaco Canyon (New Mexico), and Montezuma Castle (near Flagstaff, Arizona) are examples of distinctive Anasazi dwellings that were built into the sides of canyons and mesas. For this reason the Anasazi are commonly called Cliff Dwellers.
The Anasazi, who also produced a distinctive pottery, were one of the three major cultures of Southwestern Indians. (The others were the Mogollon and the Hohokam.) People of the modern Pueblos of Arizona and New Mexico descended from different branches of the Anasazi. Among the Anasazi descendants are the Pueblo, Hopi, and Zuni American Indian tribes.
See also: Pueblo Indians, Southwestern Indians