The chairman of the Hopi Indian tribe says allegations that Anasazi Indians practiced cannibalism are preposterous.

Tribal Chairman Ivan Sidney responded Wednesday to a report by an Arizona State University physical anthropologist who said he has documented cannibalistic practices by the Anasazi Indians back to the year 700 A.D."We are outraged by such preposterous and unfounded allegations," Sidney said in a prepared statement. "I am astounded that in this day and age `so-called' educated people can publish such unjustified pronouncements."

The Hopis people believe the Anasazi are their ancestors and refer to them as "The Ancient Ones."

Anthropologist Christy G. Turner III said he was not surprised by the reaction. "It is a sensitive subject," Turner said. "I believe this was not a unique occurrence. I would not be surprised if this happened all over the world.

"I'm not picking on Southwestern Indians; it was not an attempt to put them down," he added.

Turner reported having uncovered examples from about 10 locations in Utah, Colorado, New Mexico and Arizona that the Anasazis used ancient tools - including a sharp knife-like object and an anvil stone - to smash and mutilate each other.

Sidney said the Hopis are stunned by the accusations.

"Hopi people have expressed shock, outrage and indignation to such an attack on the sacredness of Hopi life," Sidney said. "This is an insult to the Hopi people and to the American Indian."

Turner countered by saying he thinks cannibalism was practiced by other peoples throughout the world at the same time, but he did not have access to information on other areas.

Turner further questioned the connection between the Hopis and the Anasazis.

He said Hopi legend traces ancestors to places in northwestern New Mexico and in the northeastern Arizona area where Anasazi pottery has been found. There is no scientific evidence, however, genetically linking the Hopis and the Anasazis, Turner said.