Pueblo Indians (Spanish pueblo, village),
American Indians living in compact, apartmentlike villages of stone or adobe
in northwestern New Mexico and northeastern Arizona. They belong to four
distinct linguistic groups, but the cultures of the different villages are
The eastern villages, located along the upper Rio Grande near Santa Fe and
Albuquerque, include Isleta, Jemez, Nambe, Picuris, San Ildefonso, San Juan,
Santa Clara, and Taos, whose inhabitants speak Tanoan languages, and Cochiti,
Santa Ana, Santo Domingo, San Felipe, and Zia, where Keresan languages are
spoken. Two slightly westward Keresan pueblos, Acoma and Laguna, along with
the Zuni and Hopi pueblos, make up the western villages. Since about
1700 the Zuni have been concentrated in one large village in westernmost
New Mexico. Their language shows no certain relation to any other language.
The Hopi live on or near three mesas in northeastern Arizona. Their language
is part of the Uto-Aztecan language family. The Hopi pueblos include Mishongnovi,
Shongopovi, Shupapulovi, Sichomavi, and Oraibi and the Tewa-Hopi village
of Hano, founded about 1700 by Tewa-speaking refugees. See also American
Indian Languages; Hopi; Zuni Indians.
Archaeology and Prehistory
Archaeologists relate the Pueblo to an older Southwest culture known by
the term Basket Maker. The entire cultural sequence is called the Anasazi
(Navajo, ìancient onesî) culture. During the early Basket Maker
phase (circa 100 bc-ad 500) prehistoric settlements were established in
the northern part of the Southwest. The Indians practiced weaving; they
lived in caves or built shelters of poles and adobe mud. Pumpkins and corn
were grown as a supplement to hunting and the gathering of wild plants.
Food was stored in undergound pits, often lined with stone slabs. With the
addition of a bean crop and the domestication of the turkey, agriculture
became more important than hunting and gathering during the Modified Basket
Maker period (500-700). Pottery was introduced. The food storage pits developed
into semisubterranean houses and ceremonial chambers, and buildings began
to take their present connected form.
The transition from the Basket Maker to the Pueblo culture occurred about
700. Stone construction was adopted, and the connected, now-aboveground
houses became larger. The ceremonial chamber developed into the kiva, an
underground chamber used for rituals and as a male lodge. Several kinds
of corn were grown, and the cultivation of cotton may have been introduced.
Pottery was produced in a diversity of shapes and styles. During this period
the Anasazi made their greatest territorial expansion, reaching as far as
central Utah, southern Colorado, and a large part of northern Mexico.
During the Classic Pueblo period (1050-1300) the northernmost regions were
no longer occupied, and the population became concentrated in large multistoried,
terraced pueblos and in similar villages built in recesses in cliffs. See:
Casa Grande National Monument; Chaco Culture National Historical Park; Cliff
Dweller; Mesa Verde National Park. Notable advances occurred in pottery
and weaving. At the end of this period many large centers of Pueblo life
were abandoned, possibly because of drought or because of invading bands
of Navajo and Apache. During the Regressive Pueblo period (1300-1700) many
villages inhabited today were founded. Houses became less elaborate, but
pottery and weaving continued to develop.
During the Modern Pueblo period (1700-present), cattle, goats, horses, and
sheep were introduced by the Spanish, and wool replaced cotton as the principal
The Pueblos, probably the Zuni, were first encountered by the Spanish
in 1539, by the Spanish Franciscan missionary Marcos de Niza (1495-1558).
A year later the Spanish explorer Francisco V·squez de Coronado, searching
for the legendary Seven Cities of CÌbola, led an expedition among
the Hopi; failing to find any treasure, he withdrew. In 1598 the Spanish
occupied the Pueblo country, and by 1630 Spanish missions were established
in almost every village. A mass Pueblo revolt in 1680 drove the Spanish
from the territory. No other Indian group succeeded in doing this, and the
Pueblo were not reconquered until 1692. Few of the missions were reestablished,
and most of the villages continued their ancient religion. The number of
villages during this time was reduced from about 80 to about 30. The Pueblo
remained under Spanish, and then Mexican, domination until the close of
the Mexican War in 1848, when they came under U.S. jurisdiction. Throughout
this time, they preserved their traditional culture to an unusually high
degree, often adopting superficial religious or governmental changes but
maintaining the old ways in secrecy. The western villages, in particular,
resisted Spanish influence; in the eastern villages, some Spanish elements
were assimilated into the underlying Indian ways.
The communal building of a present-day pueblo is a solid structure of adobe
bricks or stone set in clay and mortar. The rooms are square, with thick
flat roofs; they are built in terraced stories, and the roof of one level
is reached by a movable ladder from the level below. Traditionally, access
to the interiors is by ladders to trapdoors in the roofs, and the outer
walls have neither windows nor doors (originally a precaution against attackers).
Modern buildings, however, often have glass windows and hinged doors. Rooms
are added to the original structure as needed, and a whole village often
lives in a single complex building. Each village has at least two, and usually
Social organization is in clans and lineages. Descent is matrilineal, and
women own the houses. Marriage is monogamous and must be to someone outside
the clan or group of related clans; divorce can occur at will. Although
nominally Christianized, all Pueblo maintainósome to a great extentótheir
ancient beliefs. The principal ceremonies, arranged by the secret societies
that use the kivas, are held between crop seasons and consist of prayers
and thanksgivings for rain and good crops. Particularly among the western
Pueblo, ancestral and other benevolent spirits called kachinas are revered
as bringers of rain and social good. Their spirits are believed to possess
the masked dancers who impersonate them in rituals, and dolls depicting
them are given to children. Some of the eastern Pueblos divide their villages
into Summer and Winter People, who alternate responsibility for rituals.
See: Snake Dance.
The Pueblo economy is based on agriculture, supplemented by raising livestock
and, often, by the sale of handicrafts. Each village cultivates fields in
common. The crops include corn, beans, cotton, melon, squash, and chili
peppers. Men generally work the fields, weave, build houses, and conduct
ceremonies; women prepare food, care for children, make baskets and pottery,
and transport water. They often help with gardening (as they did in ancient
times when hunting was important) and in building the houses.
Each community has an individual style and technique of basketry. Pueblo
pottery is characterized by a beauty of decoration and shape that is unmatched
among modern North American Indians; the work of Pueblo potters such as
Maria Martinez (1887-1980) is prized by Indian art collectors. Pueblo men
continue to be skilled weavers, producing cotton and woolen clothing and
fine woolen blankets.
In the 20th century, low incomes, poor health care, poor schooling, and
in some pueblos, unemployment, together with a clash of values with the
dominant white culture, have led to significant anger and social distress.
Most Pueblo who have left their villages return from time to time to regain
contact with the social and religious values of their tradition.
Taken from Encarta 1994 Edition
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