What Did the Anasazi Eat? 10 foods eaten by the Anasazi Tribe

This article will introduce the Anasazi Tribe and will provide answers to questions such as:

  • Who are the Anasazi?
  • For what are they known?
  • What Did the Anasazi eat?

The Anasazi, also referred to as the Ancestral Puebloans, were a prehistoric Native American culture that bridged the modern day four-corner regions of the Southwestern United States. The Four Corners consists of the following:

  • Southeastern Corner of Utah
  • Southwestern Corner of Colorado
  • Northwestern Corner of Mexico
  • Northeastern Corner of Arizona

The Anasazi Tribe – History and Culture

anasazi tribe foods

The existence of the Anasazi tribe was determined during the latter part of the Oshara tradition. The Oshara tradition is a Southwestern Archaic tradition of the four corners region of the Southwestern United States. Which surfaced from c 5500 BC to c 400 AD. The Basketmaker II Phase from 800 BC to 400 AD was the period of the Anasazi culture.

According to researchers, the Anasazi (“ancient ones”) were ancestors of modern Pueblo Indians like the Hopi, Zuni, and Pueblo. When they dwelled in the Four Corners from 200 AD to 1300 AD, they left traces of house ruins and wreckage. They were related to the old people who travelled and hunted for their own food in 6000 BC.

The first Anasazi must have lived mostly in the highlands where there was abundant supply of water. They heavily inhabited three areas, Chaco Canyon, Kayenta and Mesa Verde. Later, they occupied the entire highlands.

The Navajo people gave the name Anasazi, which means “ancient enemies” or “ancestors of our enemies” because of their competition with the tribe. Puebloans found this offensive, so the Navajo now refer to them as “ancient people” or “ancient ones.”

The Anasazi Tribe – Lifestyle and Food

What did the Anasazi eat? The Anasazi were village dwelling farmers. They were very resourceful in sustaining for their food. They used dry farming and utilized rain and melted snow.

Check out the list below on the food that the Anasazi people ate.

Type of Food

  • Animals
  • Wild Plants
  • Nuts and Herbs
  • Fruits and Vegetables


anasazi diet meat

The Anasazi hunted animals for food. These included buffalos, deer, and prairie dogs. They used hand-made weapons like spears, and bows and arrows as hunting tools. There was evidence that they started using spears 20,000 years ago, while the first use of the bow and arow was 1,500 years ago.

They cooked wild animals for meat and raised rabbits and turkey. They were known to make clothes like robes and skirts by using turkey feathers and rabbit fur.

Wild Plants

They harvested wild plants, pigweed and amaranth. Pigweeds are weeds that emerge during the warm season for vegetables. Amaranth is a gluten-free grain that is highly nutritious. It has considerable amounts of fiber, even higher than quinoa.

Nuts and Herbs

did anasazi eat nuts

Low woody shrubs grew in areas heavily inhabited by the Anasazi. As part of what did the Anasazi ate back then were nuts, herbs, lichens, and berries.

Anasazi used grinding stones like metate and mano in grinding nuts to form into a paste. They prepared roasted or ground nuts of piñon pine, which they ate as is or used in cooking.

Fruits and Vegetables

what did the anasazi eat

The Anasazi got their food and other materials needed in making clothes from fruits and vegetables. They ate fruits like ripe banana of the yucca and dried red fruit from cactus. They also consumed agricultural products like seeds, corn, squash, beans, and chili.

Back then, soup was prepared using fresh beans and corn. They harvested cotton and wove yucca fibers to produce clothing. They made dried fruits and vegetables as a means of preserving food.

Corn is known to be the primary crop of the Anasazi tribe. The Anasazi were crafty in growing their food. Because it was colder and drier in the Southwest, corn crops were weak and could not survive. They learned crossbreeding different varieties of corn to produce excellent quality corn crops that could survive the chilly weather.

The Anasazi’s knowledge of pottery helped them in making pots and baskets. They used handmade pots in cooking and storing food. Food stored in pots were safe from exposure to dirt, moisture and insect infestation, which may cause early spoilage. Hand-made pots were helpful in preparing food that took a longer time to cook.

The Anasazi used parching over hot coals to produce meal. They made ground corn or corn meal using grinding stones, and then stored them in pots.

Aside from discoveries of what did the Anasazi eat, researchers also found out that the Anasazi tribe used large stone reservoirs called Kivas. They used Kivas to store water to ensure adequate supply of water for the community for agricultural use.

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