The roots of the earliest “New Mexicans,” the current day Puebloans of the Rio Grande valley, can be traced to two of three groups referred to as the Desert People. These nomadic people of the ancient hunting and gathering life changed location with the seasonal movement of game and the ripening of wild plant life.
The Mogollon, the Hohokam, and the Ancestral Pueblo people all belonged to the same cultural congregation but occupied different environmental regions. Several Mogollon groups clustered within roughly a hundred miles east and west of the New Mexico and Arizona border and extended some unknown distance southward into Chihuahua and Sonora. The heart of the ancestral Pueblo region lay across the southern Colorado Plateau and the upper Rio Grande drainage. It spanned northeastern Arizona, northwestern New Mexico, southeastern Utah and southwestern Colorado—a land of forested mountain ranges, stream-dissected mesas, arid grasslands and occasional river bottoms. The Hohokam and their cultural cousins, the Patayan, lived in the relentlessly hot Sonora desert country of south-central and western Arizona, southeastern California and northern Sonora.
Each group had to adapt to the growing seasons, temperature ranges, rainfall patterns, resources, game and wild food plant communities of their region. This in turn meant that each culture had to develop their own farming practices, technological capabilities, hunting strategies, gathering techniques and food preparation methods aligned with their surroundings.