Copyright The Columbia University PressThe Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. The Columbia University Press
Basket Makers, name given to the members of an early Native North American culture in the Southwest, predecessors of the Pueblo. Because of the cultural continuity from the Basket Makers to the Pueblos, they have been jointly referred to by archaeologists as the Anasazi culture. They are so called because of their extensive practice of basketmaking; by covering the baskets with clay and baking them hard they created waterproof containers. One system of dating places their arrival in the area as early as 1500 BC They seem to have been at first nomadic hunters, using wooden clubs, hunting sticks, and the atlatl. They lived chiefly in houses with adobe floors and learned to grow corn and squash, probably from southern neighbors in Mexico. As they developed a more extensive agriculture, they dug pits and lined them with stone for grain storage and later built substantial dwellings lined with slabs of stone. At some time, perhaps c.500 BC, they were succeeded in the area by the ancestors of the Pueblo, who probably absorbed many of them. Some Basket Makers may have moved and may have been the ancestors of other Native American tribes. Archaeologists divide the time of their culture into the Basket Maker and Modified Basket Maker periods; in the latter period they turned increasingly to agriculture. See Natives, North American.