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Ancient trails linking the Southwest and Mesoamerica provided the route Europeans sought north from New Spain (Mexico).The most significant encounter took place on June 7, 1540.A:shiwi oral history describes how a small group of men on pilgrimage encountered soldiers led by the conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado.Other important pieces were collected from Chaco Canyon (AD 800s–1100s), where ancestral Pueblo peoples built large, multistoried masonry buildings, the most impressive of which is Pueblo Bonito. The first to emerge was the extensive site of villages and irrigation canals known as Hohokam (AD 200–1400), a culture regarded as ancestral by the Akimel O´odham and Tohono O´odham of Arizona.Farther south, Casas Grandes, with its ritual and trading center Paquimé, flourished from AD 1200 to 1450.Macaw parrots, native to the tropical lowlands of southern Mexico, were bred at Paquimé, hub of the precious-feather trade during the 14th and 15th centuries.
The earliest Pueblo material in the museum’s collection, dating to between 550 BC and AD 500, was recovered from caves at Grand Gulch.
The beginnings of Pueblo pottery traditions can also be seen in materials found at Mesa Verde (AD 600–1300), well known for its spectacular cliff dwellings.
Hohokam ball courts and cacao found on pottery from Pueblo Bonito suggest rituals shared between Mesoamerica and the Southwest.
Indians of the Southwest—Pueblo-speaking peoples, Diné, Apache, O´odham, Yuman, and Pais—maintained spheres of interaction within and beyond the region.
Eventually these nations incorporated non-Native peoples and markets into their economic and political life.