Archaeologists have assigned long-distance trade a critical role in their efforts to study complex societies in the American Southwest. Not only have they used the differential distributions of such widely traded items as tropical birds, copper bells, turquoise, marine shell, obsidian, and decorated pottery to argue that nonegalitarian sociopolitical organizations were in fact present in the prehistoric Southwest, but they have also proposed that this trade had a causal role in the development of hierarchical systems of leadership (e.g., Lightfoot and Feinman 1982; F. Plog et al. 1982; Upham et al. 1981; Weigand et al. 1977).