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The Flow of Trade

The archaeological record shows clear evidence of widespread, well travelled trade routes through out the Americas, with evidence from artifacts and the spread of agricultural findings.  The Pochteca traders from the Mesoamerican Toltec culture traveled up from Mexico into the American Southwest, as evidenced by parrot feathers and bones, copper bells and shells, all from Mexico, found in Ancestral Puebloan ruins. The silhouette of the Pochteca trader, bent over with his heavy burden basket of goodies, and his staff, may be the origin of the popular Kokopelli figure so often seen in Southwestern rock art.

The spread of maize horticulture can be traced northward into the American southwest, and on throughout the North American continent, from its origin in the Peruvian Andes. Throughout the Americas, Indians learned from each other the value of growing the "Three Sisters" (corn, beans, and squash) together in a mutually beneficial way. Turquoise, mined in the American Southwest, eventually traded its way down into Mesoamerica, where it replaced jade in popularity.

Turquoise can be typed and traced to the mine of its origin. Obsidian points, made from volcanic material, can be scientifically "fingerprinted" in a way that links it to the volcano of its orgin, with surprising results in terms of the great distances that it has journeyed. The Maya that lived along the Yucatan coast, paddled their huge dugout canoes all along the coast, down to Honduras, in search of new trade goods and products.

Here is a partial list of some of the many agricultural products traded back and forth in the Americas, and then eventually given to the world by Native Americans, in addition to those products covered on other pages of this site::

worked jade, turquoise and obsidian products, textile goods, shells, copper bells, parrots and parrot feathers, pinon nuts, turkey, blueberries, maple syrup, cotton, pecans, tobacco, tapioca, rubber, quinine, cocaine, chocolate, vanilla, cashew nuts, peanuts, wild rice, and sassafras

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