This week’s blog assignment was interesting and I found there are many similarities between the peoples and cultures of North America and Mesoamerica in terms of technology and science, though scientists will never be able to fully gage how closely these two areas are related. Mound-building is one such example. The extensive mound-building culture in North America was similar with that of Central American pyramidal structures arguing that there may have been a cultural contact at some point. The Olmecs were making pyramids 1600 years before the Aztecs, such as La Venta, meaning that the mounds in South America were initially influenced by the Aztecs and the Olmecs before them. (http://www.hyperhistory.net/apwh/essays/comp/cw03mound-builders.htm)
Mesoamericans influenced the Indians of the Southwest United States profoundly though the introduction of agriculture and art. Corn was associated with life, and the western Pueblos had “Corn Maidens” who held special honor in their tribes because they rescued people from starvation. They appear in artwork, such as ceramics and murals, as well as celebrated publicly in ceremonies and tribal histories. Pottery was introduced to the peoples of the desert and have been important cultural markers for locations and times in the history of the Southwest and northern Mexico. (http://www.desertusa.com/ind1/ind_new/ind5.html)
Archaeologists have tried to map the influence of Mesoamerica on the Southwest and there are some clues that help us to see the connection. Trade routes have been noted from Central America north to exchange religious beliefs, ideas, crafts, among other things in return for obsidian and turquoise, considered a sacred stone. In the land of the Anasazi, near Chaco Canyon in New Mexico, the Pueblos exhibited Mesoamerican influence in rock art, ceramic designs, architecture, trade goods, spirituality and ritual dance. More artwork with important cultural markers from Mesoamerica has been seen and studied in the Southwest, such as those discovered in the Hueco Tanks state historical park near El Paso.