Pueblo Culture: The First American Frontier
Archaeologists say that Pueblo culture developed out of the Basket Makers, beginning around A.D. 700. From then until about 1100, these frontier people began using cotton cloth and started building their houses above ground, using stone and adobe masonry. Next, during 1100 to 1300, the modest above-ground dwellings evolved (in some places) into the spectacular multiroom. “apartment” complexes, terraced into the sides of cliffs, which continue to awe visitors to such places as Mesa Verde National Park.
Impressive though the Pueblo culture was, it never became as varied or as advanced as the Native cultures to the south. Even before the Spanish entered the American Southwest in the sixteenth century, Pueblo culture began to decline. Between 1276 and 1299, the Pueblos were devastated by drought and famine. Many migrated to more adequately watered regions in New Mexico and northeastern Arizona. Descendants of the Pueblos—the Zunis, the Hopis, and the Rio Grande Pueblos—still live in these areas.