Didn't they disappear or something?

There isn't a tribe in the Southwest today called the Anasazi -- and there never was. So where did the word come from? What does it mean? And why do a lot of people in the Southwest not want to use it anymore?

People have translated it to ‘ancient enemy,’ ‘old ancestor,’ some have even translated it to ‘little people.’
— Talavai Denipah-Cook
It does have this kind of exotic patina to it, you know. Anasazi, to me, kind of sounds like a term that describes a mysterious and wonderful culture perhaps.
— Chip Colwell

White dots outline triangular shapes in a wall painting at Spruce Tree House, Mesa Verde National Park. A white hand print can be seen just below the ancient doorway.

In this episode, we hear from Talavai Denipah-Cook and Star Not-Afraid, two descendants of the "Anasazi," to get their take on the word. We also spoke with anthropologist Chip Colwell about his research into the cultural and historical effects of word use.


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Where are the Pueblo people today?

After migrating away from the Mesa Verde region (present day SW Colorado, NW New Mexico, SE Utah, and NE Arizona), the Ancestral Pueblo people moved south and west, establishing new villages in present day northern Arizona and central New Mexico. These present day villages are indicated below in red. Other tribes in the region include the Navajo Nation, Ute Mountain Ute, and Southern Ute, whose lands are indicated below in gray.


"Anasazi" Today

On April 21, 2018, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) announcement a name change to the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado. This museum and visitor center has served as the gateway to the Canyons of the Ancient National Monument since 1988.

It is now the Canyons of the Ancients Visitor Center and Museum.



Learn more about Chip Colwell's research at www.chipcolwell.com.