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New Mexico Early HistoryNew Mexico Early History: New Mexico Flag

First Early Inhabitants of New Mexico

Early history examines the archaeological record that tells the story of the first inhabitants of New Mexico. Learn about the prehistory and culture of the first early inhabitants, and what lessons it might teach us about the early history of New Mexico.

New Mexico First Early Inhabitants Timeline

  • c. 25000 B.C. - Sandia people leave earliest evidence of human existence in what is now New Mexico.
  • c. 10000-9000 B.C. - Clovis hunters roam area in search of mammoth, bison and other game.
  • c. 9000-8000 B.C. - Folsom people flourish throughout Southwest at the end of the last Ice Age.
  • c. 10000-500 B.C. - Cochise people are first inhabitants to cultivate corn, squash and beans, the earliest evidence of agriculture in the Southwest.
  • A.D. 300-1400 - Mogollon culture introduces highly artistic pottery and early architecture in the form of pit houses.
  • A.D. 1-700 - Anasazi basket makers elevate weaving to a high art, creating baskets, clothing, sandals and utensils.
  • A.D. 700-1300 - Anasazi culture culminates in the highly developed Chaco Civilization.
  • A.D. 1200-1500s - Pueblo Indians establish villages along the Rio Grande and its tributaries.

Early History of Native Americans in New Mexico

The Indigenous People of New Mexico

The Clovis-Paleo Indians later discovered the eastern plains of New Mexico, the same expansive romping grounds of the dinosaurs around 10,000 B.C. The river valleys west of their hunting grounds later flooded with refugees from the declining Four Corners Anasazi cultures.

Sometime between A.D. 1130 and 1180, the Anasazi drifted from their high-walled towns to evolve into today's Pueblo Indians, so named by early Spanish explorers because they lived in land-based communities much like the villages, or pueblos, of home. Culturally similar American Indians, the Mogollón, lived in today's Gila National Forest.

The Anasazi occupied the region where present day Arizona, New Mexico and Colorado meet. They were among the most highly civilized of the Native American cultures. They raised corn and cotton, and tamed wild turkeys, using the meat for food and the feathers for clothing. In the winter, the Anasazi wore garments fashioned from turkey feathers.

The Anasazi were cliff dwellers and built many apartment houses out of closely fitted stones. One such building, the Pueblo Bonito, had nearly 800 rooms.

Around 1500 A.D., the Navaho and Apache tribes came to the New Mexico region from the north. Utes and Comanches entered the area a few years later.

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