The Paleo-Indians of the North American southwest and southeast are actually quite different from each other except that they both cultivated and depended upon corn as a crop to feed their populations. Each one seems to have more in common in bits and pieces with behaviors and beliefs found in the other Mesoamerican cultures that we studied last week, rather than with each other. If we consider the Mound Builders of Cahokia, their settlement layout is much like those of the Mesoamericans, Maya and Aztec especially, with the large flat-topped, ziggurat shaped structures upon which their leaders lived and the wide plazas that stretch out at their city centers. (Cahokia: America’s Lost City) (Week 7, Lecture 3) Another thing that seemed to be the similar between the inhabitants of Cahokia and the Mesoamericans was the elaborate burials and evidence of sacrifice; both are signs that they had a complex and stratified society. (Cahokia: America’s Lost City) The Cliff dwellers of the Southeast appear to have some similarity with the Olmec of Mesoamerica as both seem to have had a much less stratified population. This conclusion is based on the burials that have been found for both and not either having much variation, meaning that there was not a “ruling class” or royalty, so to speak and were much more egalitarian societies. (The Secret Canyon)
There is evidence for trade and exchange between the Mesoamericans and the Paleo-Indians of the southwest. According to an article I found on Encyclopedia.com, Anasazi trade was important to the development of many aspects of the developing American Indian, “They also traded turquoise with Mesoamerican civilizations such as the Toltec Empire for high-prestige items such as macaw feathers, ornaments, and pottery. This intercourse had important consequences because it helped spread Mesoamerican pottery styles, religious customs, crops, and agricultural techniques to North America.” (http://www.encyclopedia.com/doc/1G2-2536600176.html) I found a piece of archaeological evidence for exchange on the website of the National Museum of the American Indian which states that there was contact between the Hohokum people, who date from 200-1400 A.D. and the Mesoamericans, “Hohokam ball courts and cacao found on pottery from Pueblo Bonito suggest rituals shared between Mesoamerica and the Southwest.” (http://nmai.si.edu/exhibitions/infinityofnations/southwest.html) Obviously, the people of these older societies “got around”.