For more information on the Pueblo people, see Acoma Pueblo, Jemez Pueblo, San Juan Pueblo, Taos Pueblo, and Zuñi Pueblo entries.
Pueblo (pronounced PWEB-loh). Early Spanish explorers gave this name to various Native American tribes living in territory that is now part of the American Southwest. A pueblo is a stone and adobe village inhabited by various tribes in the southwestern United States. The broad Spanish name for the tribes now refers to both the Pueblo people and the pueblos (cities) where they live.
The Pueblo people have always lived in New Mexico and northeastern Arizona. The surviving New Mexico pueblos are located at Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambé, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia, and Zuni. Most are located on the Rio Grande River and its branches. The Hopi people live in Arizona, and Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, near El Paso, Texas, was begun by refugees from the New Mexican Isleta Pueblo.
There were an estimated 250,000 Pueblo in the early 1600s. They lived in 134 or more villages in the early sixteenth century. Between 1540 and 1700 the number of villages dwindled to 19, where it remains today. In the 1990 U.S Census, 55,330 people identified themselves as Pueblo. By 2000 that number had risen to 59,621.
Pueblo languages belong to four different families: the Keresan, Tanoan, Zunian, and Uto-Aztecan.
Origins and group affiliations
Ancestors of the Pueblo people were the Anasazi (“ancient ones”)—a group of wandering hunters who settled down between 400 and 700. They grew corn and other crops and built houses in caves and cliffs. At the end of the twentieth century the people called Pueblo were actually 19 independent tribes in New Mexico, one in Arizona, and one in Texas.
The Pueblo believe that the first humans came out of the Earth through an opening called sipapu. Unlike Native American tribes who were moved onto reservations by the U.S. government, the Pueblo still inhabit their ancestral lands, and their culture has not undergone a great deal of change. Historically the many Pueblo groups were alike in key ways: they built permanent homes, had similar religious customs, made pottery, and grew corn, beans, and other crops.
The “ancient ones”
Although the ancestors of the Pueblo lived in the American Southwest for more than twelve thousand years, not much is known about them—partly because the Pueblo will not allow archaeologists to dig extensively on Pueblo land. (Archaeologists are scientists who recover and study the evidence of past cultures.) Thousands of years ago the ancestors of the Pueblo, the Anasazi (see entry), lived in the Four Corners area, where the present-day states of Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, and Utah meet.
Until the 700s, the Anasazi lived by hunting and growing small crops of corn and beans. Over the next few centuries they cultivated cotton, created pottery, and built kivas (rooms where ceremonies and sacred meetings took place). They also constructed cities, later called “pueblos” by the Spanish, who arrived in the New World in the 1500s. In time Spanish colonists gave each pueblo a Spanish name based on a geographic trait, a Catholic saint’s name, or a Spanish pronunciation of the Indian name for the pueblo.
1539: The Pueblo encounter Spanish explorers.
1680: The Pueblo Revolt drives out the Spanish.
1692: The Spanish begin their reconquest of Pueblo land.
1850: New Mexico, land of the Pueblo people, is declared a U.S. territory.
1922: The All Indian Pueblo Council meets to fight for land and water rights.
1924: The Pueblo Lands Act of 1924 passes. The U.S. government pays for or returns land to the tribe.
Pueblos thrive, then decline
By the 1300s the pueblos were flourishing. Pueblo architecture grew more complex, pottery and weaving methods improved, and farming practices were refined. The ancient Anasazi people built spectacular cities, including the famed Pueblo Bonito, which was constructed between 920 and 1130 ce . The city centered on a huge, D-shaped apartment building of eight hundred rooms that rose five stories high.
A severe drought struck the Southwest around 1276 and lasted into the early 1300s, forcing many of the Pueblo peoples to abandon their villages in search of water. At that time they joined other Puebloans farther north in central New Mexico and northeastern Arizona. A second series of migrations took place during the fifteenth century. When the Spanish arrived in the 1500s, they discovered many abandoned Pueblo towns.
Spanish drawn to Pueblo lands
In 1529 four Spanish shipwreck survivors spent eight years wandering the Southwest before finding their way back to their countrymen. With great excitement they returned to Spain telling tales of magnificent Native American cities of gold. It was not long before treasure-seeking Spanish explorers made their way to the new land. The Spanish began exploring Pueblo country in 1539, 81 years before the Pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock. Some of the cities they visited were already 250 years old. Historians estimate that at the time 250,000 Pueblo people were living in at least 134 villages.
The Spanish introduced horses and firearms to the Pueblo. Later batches of European settlers brought new crops and inventions and spread diseases to which the Native Americans had no immunity. Some anthropologists (scientists who study ancient cultures) believe that during the period between 1540 and 1700, when the Spanish controlled what is now New Mexico, the Pueblo population decreased by half and the number of villages fell to 19.
Spanish settlers had little regard for the Native people’s land, their culture, or their traditions. In 1540 a Spanish expedition led by Francisco Vásquez de Coronado (1510–1554) landed in the region. They camped in the Tiwa province of Tiguex, putting twelve villages of people out of their homes. Using the area as a base camp, the party searched in vain across the plains of Kansas for an incredibly wealthy mythical city, then returned to Mexico empty-handed.
In about 1580, new groups of Spaniards arrived in Pueblo territory. They established settlements and brought Christianity to the Native Americans. Juan de Oñate (1552–1626) established a government at Santa Fe, New Mexico, and quickly stripped the Natives of their freedoms. The Native Americans were required to give corn and woven cloth to the Spanish settlers and perform backbreaking labor for the Spanish. Their traditional religious practices were banned as superstitious. Native Americans who refused to obey Spanish rule paid with the amputation of a hand or foot, forced slavery, or even execution.
The “First American Revolution”
The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 was the first and only successful move by Native North Americans to throw colonists off their lands. The Native Americans organized what some call the “First American Revolution.” The Jemez (pronounced HAY-mes)—one of the Pueblo groups of New Mexico—helped ensure the success of the revolt that was organized by Popé (died 1692), a religious leader from the San Juan Pueblo. For the first time in their history, the many different Pueblo groups acted as a single force, and one day in August 1680 they killed four hundred Spaniards, including twenty-one Catholic priests. The tribes drove the Spanish out of New Mexico, but only for a short time.
Twenty percent of the Spaniards in the region died in the Native rebellion, and those who survived fled to Mexico. But not all the Pueblo people agreed that the Spanish should be expelled. Some wanted the foreigners nearby for protection from the Apache and the Navajo (see entries), especially since those tribes had acquired horses and firearms. Some Pueblo even followed the Spanish to the South. Within a few years other groups invited the Spanish to return.
The return of the Spanish
For twelve years the Jemez tried to reestablish their pueblos and their way of life. But in 1692 Don Diego de Vargas (1643–1704) returned to the area to reclaim New Mexico for Spain. De Vargas forcibly took over San Diego Canyon in 1694, killing 84 warriors and taking 361 Jemez as prisoners. The Spanish again established colonies in the Pueblo region, and the Pueblo who remained in the area were forced to convert to Catholicism and to work on Spanish ranches. Over time Spanish rule became less strict, and officials permitted the Native Americans to resume some traditional religious practices.
After the Mexican Revolution of 1821, Mexico became independent of Spain, and the new Mexican government took charge of the pueblos. Twenty-five years later Mexico fought with the United States over land in the present-day American Southwest. America’s victory in this conflict (known as the Mexican-American War; 1846–48) made New Mexico—the land of the Pueblo peoples—part of U.S. territory. The Pueblo, as Mexican citizens, were automatically granted U.S. citizenship. (Most Native Americans were not given U.S. citizenship until 1924.) As U.S. citizens the Pueblo did not receive the rights and protections granted through treaties to Native Americans as independent nations.
Pueblo lose, then regain land
Spanish laws passed in 1689 had given the Pueblo ownership of their ancestral lands. After New Mexico became part of the United States, the American government pledged that it would recognize this agreement. Under the terms of ownership, white settlement was not allowed on Pueblo land. Near the end of the nineteenth century, though, there was a great increase in illegal settlement on the lands. The Pueblo asked for, and then sued for, Indian status, which they gained in 1916.
The All Indian Pueblo Council (see “Government”) came together in the early 1920s to oppose U.S. government interference in Pueblo land ownership and water rights. Using tactics like an around-the-country lecture tour and appearances before Congress, the council secured passage of the Pueblo Lands Act of 1924. This act returned Pueblo lands that had been owned by non-Native Americans for less than twenty years. It also paid for lost lands. The Pueblo people used the money to purchase land for irrigation projects.
In the early 1970s the All Indian Pueblo Council again acted on behalf of the Pueblo tribes to oppose federal action that would interfere with their tribal water rights. In 1996 representatives from all the New Mexico pueblos, as well as two Apache tribes and the Navajo Nation, began holding quarterly meetings with New Mexico state officials to improve communication and cooperation among the various groups.
Ancient beliefs and practices preserved
The Pueblo considered a person’s spiritual beliefs central to his or her daily life. They saw themselves as Earth’s caretakers and called upon supernatural beings to ensure health, happiness, and abundant crops.
Many Pueblo converted to Christianity, but Catholic and Protestant missionaries were not successful in eliminating traditional beliefs and practices. Even at the end of the twentieth century many Pueblo Catholics followed the beliefs of their ancestors and practiced their ceremonies. Tribal members belong to religious societies devoted to weather, fertility, healing, hunting, even entertainment. Centuries ago, during times of religious intolerance, the Pueblo people learned to keep their ceremonies secret. Many of their religious ceremonies still remain shrouded in mystery.
White Egg, Blue Egg
In this Pueblo creation tale, people have become greedy. Sky Father and Mother Earth send Yanauluha, a wise medicine man to teach the people a lesson.
One sunny day, the people had gathered to hear the medicine man speak. But he was silent as he held his staff in his right hand, and struck it sharply with his left hand.
By his magic, two white and two blue eggs appeared at once. The people were told that the eggs were the seeds of living things, which would help to make the world more fruitful. Then there was a wild rush for the eggs. They did not break, because they were eggs of great magic; but the people who wanted most fought hardest for the eggs, and were able to seize the two blue eggs before the others had a chance. The others had to be content with the two white eggs.
When the big day came that the two blue eggs hatched, little dark-colored birds with rough skins came out of the eggshells. The chicks looked as though they might grow beautiful as they became older. The white eggs showed no signs of hatching, so the people watched the chicks from the blue eggs grow and fed them much food. The chicks were very greedy and fought to see which could eat the most. When the feathers came, they were jet black and glossy, and the people saw that the birds were ravens. Soon the birds flew away with harsh, mocking cries at the people who had expected so much.
Then, one sunny day, the white eggs broke open and at once brightly colored macaws hopped out. As these birds winged their way southward, the people were glad because they knew that birds of great beauty would soon brighten their world, and the feathers of these birds would decorate the tribal prayer sticks.
Mcfarlan, Allan A. Fireside Book of North American Indian Folktales. Harrisburg, PA: Stackpole Books, 1974.
The Pueblo believe in a Creator (“Great Spirit”) who is always present. They honor the Earth as their Mother and respect everything in it, whether living or not. According to Pueblo belief, every visible object has a spirit (the kachina) that is as real as the thing itself. The Pueblo honor three hundred major kachinas that represent the most important objects in their lives.
The Kachina religion practiced by the modern-day Pueblo people may have begun with the ancient Anasazi. Kachinas were said to be reincarnated ancestors (reborn after death) who served as messengers between the people and their gods. The term kachina also refers to the dolls that represent Pueblo Indians’ ancestral spirits and the masked dancers who perform at agricultural and religious ceremonies.
Pueblo Indians of the early twenty-first century still stay in touch with the spirit world. For example, hunters ask permission of the spirit of an animal before killing it for food, and persons seeking strength often pray to receive the spirit of an especially powerful or beloved kachina.
Many Pueblo tales featured Salt Woman or Salt Mother, an elderly woman who freely helped anyone who asked her. The Pueblo used salt for healing rituals, burial ceremonies, food preparation and preservation, and even love potions. They also traded it. People made pilgrimages to the place where Salt Woman lived to obtain the precious seasoning.
During religious dance ceremonies, men dressed as kachinas act out the story of the first appearance of the Pueblo people. The men appear as animals (owl, crow, butterfly, or dog, for example) or as major crops (usually corn or squash).
Kachina clowns serve as comic relief, helping the Native people forget their troubles for a while. They entertain people and discourage undesirable behavior by ridiculing those who misbehave. Clowns sometimes poke fun at religious ceremonies or pretend to make fun of important people in song.
During the 1920s outside groups tried to stop the Pueblo from practicing traditional religious ceremonies. Laws were passed in the 1930s to protect the tribe’s freedom of religion, but they did not. Even as late as the 1960s U.S. government officials attempted to “civilize” the Native Americans by forcing them to give up their old religious ways. The Pueblo received an important religious concession in 1970 when legislation returned the sacred area of Blue Lake and 55,000 surrounding acres of land to the Taos people. The tribe had been asking for thirty years for the return of this land, which they believe is the place where the Great Spirit first created people. (For more information, see Taos Pueblo entry).
Most of the Pueblo tribes speak dialects (varieties) that derive from four separate language families: Tewa, Tiwa, Towa, and Keresan. Although the Pueblo share similar cultures, they are not typically fluent in each other’s languages. Throughout their history, though, some Pueblo people have been able to speak several Pueblo languages. During the time of Spanish rule many also spoke Spanish.
Many elders believe the Pueblo language should not be written, but passed down orally, in keeping with ancient traditions. Others disagree, saying that writing will preserve the language for future generations. Even though the Pueblo languages are still unwritten, they continue to survive in most of the villages. Most modern Pueblo speak both English and their Native tongue.
In early times the Western Pueblo were ruled by religious leaders. Public opinion, expressed through gossip, kept people in line. The Eastern Pueblo separated religious and political authorities and developed a stronger central government. A tribal council decided how land was to be divided and could take back a person’s right to live in a given pueblo.
Pueblo Population: 2000 Census
According to the U.S. Bureau of the Census, 59,621people identified themselves as Pueblo in 2000. No figures were available for the Keres and Piro Pueblos, but the government no longer keeps statistics on groups with populations of less than fifty people. The breakdown of population figures for the other Pueblos looked like this:
|Pueblo group||Number identified|
“2000 Census of Population and Housing. Matrix 7: American Indian and Alaskan Native summary file.” Washington, DC: U.S. Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Data User Services Division, American FactFinder, 2004.
Beginning in 1620 a Spanish-style system of government—one featuring a tribal governor and his assistants—became widespread among the tribes. By the twentieth century each pueblo maintained its own separate elected government.
All of the pueblos are self-governed and fiercely independent, but they all participate in the All Indian Pueblo Council, a loose federation or grouping. The All Indian Pueblo Council began with the Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish in 1680. It became an important force in the 1920s in organizing delegates from each pueblo to regain the land illegally seized from them by American settlers. Through their participation in the All Indian Pueblo Council, the governors of the New Mexico pueblos continue to meet and discuss issues such as water rights, education, health, and economic development.
Prior to the arrival of the Europeans, the most important task at each pueblo was the construction of homes. Workers were paid with food, but because food was costly only a minimal number of builders were hired for each project. Men usually made the adobe (pronounced uh-DOE-bee) bricks, while women did the plastering and constructed the roofs of the houses. (Adobe is a sun-dried mud made of a mixture of clay, sand, and sometimes ashes, rocks, or straw.) Members of the tribe also made their own personal tools—grinding stones, knives, hammers, arrowheads, and even fireplaces and ovens—from stone or bone.
The Spanish introduced new crops and sheep and cattle ranching in the 1600s, and these economic activities are still important among the Pueblo in the twenty-first century.
Many Pueblo fought during World War II (1939–45; a war in which Great Britain, France, the United States, and their allies defeated Germany, Italy, and Japan), and when they returned home they used their war benefits to obtain higher education or to open businesses. During the 1960s federal programs were set up to provide financial assistance to Native Americans, and tourism on Pueblo lands began to thrive. Tourists are drawn to New Mexico by their fascination with the ancient pueblos and the Pueblo lifestyle.
Some modern-day Pueblo people continue to work their own farms, but make use of modern equipment. Others have taken nonagricultural jobs off the reservation and have moved to cities.
In Pueblo families, children belonged to their mother’s clan (a group of related families). A household consisted of a husband and wife, their children, and the wife’s brothers, along with their wives and children.
Pueblo women and girls built houses and ovens, made baskets and pottery, and tended small vegetable gardens. Men and boys took care of cornfields, hunted, and did weaving, knitting, and embroidering.
The unusual Pueblo style of construction dates back to the Anasazi culture of about 700 and remains popular with some modern Pueblo people. Structures were made either of sandstone slabs cemented into place with mud or, more commonly, of adobe. Because adobe was also used in European countries on the Mediterranean Sea, the Spanish were already familiar with it when they discovered the Puebloans. In fact, the Spanish taught the Native Americans to make adobe bricks. Thereafter, bricklaying replaced the earlier practice of forming mud walls between wooden poles.
The Pueblo carried on the architectural traditions of their Anasazi ancestors. They built multistoried apartment-style buildings, usually three to six stories tall. First-floor rooms served mostly for food storage, while the living quarters were located on upper levels. To provide safety from invaders, the first floor had no doors. Lower rooms were entered through hatches (holes in the ceiling), and during rainstorms the hatches could be covered with large slabs of stone. Modern homes have doors on the first floor.
Upper stories were terraced (staggered) toward the rear of the building. As a result each upper-story room had a patio area provided by the roof of the room below. People used ladders or, less often, adobe stairs, to go from one level to the next. The ladders could be pulled up in case of an enemy attack. Some ladders were wide enough for two people to pass at the same time.
Because wind and rain wore away at the earthen walls of the pueblos, a coating of mud plaster had to be reapplied to the exterior every year. To make the dwelling clean and attractive, interior surfaces were whitewashed. This time-consuming process involved combining a mineral substance called gypsum with cattle dung and baking the mixture like pottery. Then they pounded this material into a powder, mixed it with water, and applied it to the walls. The thick adobe walls kept the rooms cool in the summer and warm in the winter.
Families slept on rugs or animal skins that they rolled up in the morning and used for seating. Pegs and poles, somewhat like modern towel racks, served as clothes hangers. The fireplace occupied one corner of the room, with cooking pots and gourds (dried, hollowed-out vegetables) for carrying water nearby. Before the nineteenth century they vented smoke through the pueblo’s entrance. Later a hood and flue (pipe) sent smoke outside the house. The Puebloans built special storage containers for grain into the floor.
During planting season whole families sometimes camped in the fields, living in the remains of ancient settlements or building temporary villages. They constructed light shelters of brush and stone for protection from the blazing sun.
In the early twenty-first century the majority of Pueblo residents lived in modern, single-family homes, most made of cinder block. But at Acoma and Taos some people still inhabited their centuries-old, apartment-style adobe buildings. Those who did chopped wood for fuel and lived for the most part without modern conveniences.
Central to the spiritual life of each pueblo was a circular room called the kiva, often built below ground level. Some pueblos had one or two kivas, while others had many. Most kivas contained a fire pit, an adobe bench attached to the wall, an altar, and a sipapu, a hole through which kachinas could emerge from the underworld for ceremonies. The men of a religious society used kivas to prepare for tribal ceremonies and to hold social gatherings. Traditionally women could enter a kiva only to plaster the walls and to attend occasional ceremonies.
During the period of Spanish rule a Catholic church was constructed in each pueblo. These huge adobe structures had walls as thick as 9 feet (2.7 meters) and were up to 40 feet (12 meters) tall. Their bell towers stretched even higher. The churches’ roofs were made with strong wooden poles long enough to span the entire width of the structure. The poles were laid at intervals to make a base, with several layers of smaller wooden branches and brush in alternating directions arranged over them, then covered with packed earth. In the larger mission churches tree trunks 40 feet (12 meters) long and weighing hundreds of pounds were harvested from the nearest forest. They were then hand-carried 30 miles (48 kilometers) or more to the construction site.
Clothing and adornment
The Pueblo wore cotton clothing as early as 800. In climates where it was too cold to grow cotton, they wore animal skins. They made winter coats by forming fluffy ropes from small animal pelts and turkey feathers. Rows of these ropes were sewn together with yucca twine, much like the way a basket is woven. After the Spanish taught the Native Americans to spin and weave wool, woolen clothing became popular. In the early days weaving was a male occupation.
Men usually wore knee-length skirts or loincloths (flaps of material that covered the front and back and were suspended from the waist). They slipped a piece of cloth with a hole in the center over their heads to serve as a shirt. The Pueblo either went barefoot or wore sandals made of yucca fiber. Around 1300 they learned from other Native American cultures to make animal skin moccasins and leggings. The people did not begin wearing long pants until around 1880. Even then, they sometimes slit the legs to accommodate tall moccasins or boots.
Women often wore simple, knee-length dresses called mantas (pronounced MAHN-tuhs). These were made from a straight piece of cloth wrapped around the body and tied with a sash at the waist. The fabric passed under the left arm and fastened above the right shoulder. Mantras have been made of black wool since the time of Spanish rule. In the nineteenth century women began wearing brightly colored silk blouses under their mantas. They later added colorful fringed shawls.
The Pueblo usually left their clothing undyed, but sometimes colored fabrics with a bright blue-green dye made from copper sulfate. Later, when European fabrics became available, red cloth was especially popular. The fibers from such fabrics were carefully unraveled so the threads could be rewoven as decorative elements in Pueblo cloth.
Most Pueblo people wore their shoulder-length hair either loose or tied back, with bangs cut straight across the forehead. Men often tied their hair back at the nape of the neck, folded it up in half, and wrapped it with a leather strip into a long bundle called a chongo. Influenced by Plains Indians, some men in the Northern Pueblos braided their hair. Men painted their bodies for ceremonies, and women often decorated their cheeks with red powder made from crushed flowers.
Because they farmed the Pueblo settled in permanent cities. Corn made up about 80 percent of their diet. It was so important to Pueblo life that it was used in some form—as corn, cornmeal, or corn pollen—in nearly every ceremony. Fresh corn was boiled or roasted or dried, ground, and stored in the form of cornmeal. The Pueblo groups cultivated many varieties, including a type called flint corn that could be stored for years because it was resistant to mold and rodents. In addition to the familiar white and yellow varieties, the tribes raised red, blue, dark purple, and speckled corn. The people often stored seed corn with an evergreen sprig or prayer feather in hopes of keeping the seeds fresh.
The Uses of Cornmeal
Pueblo girls and women spent three to four hours a day grinding several quarts of cornmeal by hand. They placed kernels on a grinding stone and crushed them with a cylinder-shaped stone. The texture of the stone determined how fine the cornmeal would be. Three or four workers often formed a team, each passing the meal she had ground to another worker with a finer stone.
Cornmeal added to boiling water produced a favorite morning drink. For travelers, cornmeal that had been thoroughly toasted between successive grindings and crushed extra fine could be carried easily and mixed with cold water for a nourishing beverage. Lumps of cornmeal dough dropped into boiling water made dumplings. A favorite food now known by its Mexican Indian name, tamale (pronounced tah-MAH-lay), consisted of meat or other filling encased in cornmeal, wrapped with a corn husk, and then boiled.
Cornmeal was also used for various types of bread, including tortillas (pronounced tor-TEE-yahz). Piki (PEE-kee) bread was prepared by quickly spreading thin batter made from blue cornmeal on a hot stone and almost immediately peeling off the paper-thin, cooked layer. Piki could be folded and stored for as long as a week.
In addition to corn the Pueblo raised squash, sunflower seeds, and several types of beans. The Spanish colonists introduced new crops, including apples, apricots, pears, grapes, wheat, and a variety of vegetables. Individual Native American families grew their own onions, peppers, chilies, and tobacco. The Pueblo also made use of various wild plants, such as prickly pear cactus, berries, pine nuts, and yucca fruit. Other parts of the yucca plant were made into soap, fiber for sandals, and material for brooms and hairbrushes.
The Pueblo lived in a desert climate, so their crops were often harmed by drought. They planted in fields most likely to catch the summer rain and built dams to keep thunderstorm runoffs from washing away their crops. Women planted corn in holes up to 18 inches (46 centimeters) deep to allow the plant roots to use moisture well below the surface. They built a ridge of soil around each plant to retain water. As a result cornfields took on a wafflelike appearance.
The tribe ate meat only on occasion. Sometimes they hunted large animals like deer, antelope, and buffalo using the “drive” method. A group of men and boys surrounded their prey and drove it into a canyon or corral where others could easily kill it. More commonly, they caught rabbits, gophers, squirrels, and other small animals in traps or killed them with clubs.
Blue Corn Atole (Breakfast Drink)
Corn was a staple food of the Pueblo tribes. By drying and grinding it, the people made a gritty flour called cornmeal that they used in many different ways. This recipe uses the ground cornmeal to make a breakfast drink.
- 1 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons sugar (or to taste)
- 4 teaspoons roasted cornmeal
- Cinnamon and/or other spices can be added to taste
Add ingredients to milk; stir until combined.
Continue stirring while heating—can be heated on stove or with Cappuccino or Espresso steamer.
Serve steaming hot.
Traditional Native American Recipes. (accessed on August 8, 2007)
Tribal elders were respected for their wisdom. When they became too old for strenuous work, the elderly often joined the town council or became the head of a society. They also assisted in raising the children. They taught the youths about the Pueblo way of life and passed down the tradition of kachina dollmaking. (Kachina dolls were carved from wood, then covered with white clay and painted in bright colors.)
During the late nineteenth century the U.S. government wanted the Pueblo people to assimilate or “blend in” with mainstream American society. Many Native American children were sent far away from their parents to white-run boarding schools to learn white ways. During the twentieth century, though, the Bureau of Indian Affairs built schools on Pueblo reservations, thereby enabling Pueblo youth to maintain a connection to their families and their heritage.
The Pueblo thought most illnesses had spiritual causes. A common treatment focused on restoring spiritual harmony between the ailing person and his or her environment. For example, they believed a baby who cried most of the time might be suffering back pain because his father mistreated horses before his birth. To cure his child, the father drove a team of horses hard, then took the horses’ sweat and rubbed it onto the baby’s back.
Healers were sometimes called on to perform special rituals. Some healers were ordinary people who had gained special healing powers in a dramatic way—through the bite of a snake, perhaps, or by being struck by lightning.
Plants were also used to treat and prevent illness. Crushed mustard leaves, for instance, were applied to the body as a sunscreen. Other remedies such as rattlesnake oil, collected from snakes along the Mexican border, eased pains from rheumatism and cured poisonous snakebites by absorbing the venom.
Pottery and stonework
Pueblo women have been known throughout history for a special kind of pottery featuring black designs painted on a white background. Their polished red and black pottery remains popular today. The Pueblo groups are unique for their high level of craftsmanship in stonework, which allowed them to build houses with as many as thirty floors.
Pueblo Cultural Center
Exhibits on Pueblo history are on display at the Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The exhibits trace the origins, traditions, arts, and craftsmanship of the people. The 260-seat theater at the center depicts Pueblo culture through film, drama, and dance. Stage presentations and celebrations are also held on the grounds.
Festivals and ceremonies
The Pueblo are sometimes referred to as “Rain Dance” people. Because water was so important in their desert environment, many of their traditional ceremonies were held to encourage adequate rainfall. Other dances expressed their sadness, told stories of the gods, and celebrated the growth of their crops. Dancers wore fancy costumes and sometimes used masks. They decorated themselves with paint, horns, branches, and feathers.
They performed both carefully planned and free-style dances in ceremonies that went on for hours. During the Snake Dance men fearlessly handled rattlesnakes. The rooftop terraces of pueblo homes provided a convenient place for people to sit and watch the ceremonial dances held throughout the year.
People attached prayer feathers to a house under construction to protect it. A “feeding the house” ceremony took place after the walls, roof, and floor were completed. They sprinkled crumbs along the rafters to insure the good health of those who would live inside. Because water, building materials, and firewood had to be transported up and down ladders to the pueblo homes, ceremonies were performed at the foot of the ladders to protect children and adults from accidents.
Modern Pueblo life is steeped in ritual. Pueblo festivals often combine traditional Native American rituals with Christian celebrations. Each pueblo has its own celebrations throughout the year, including one on the feast day of the Catholic saint who serves as patron of the pueblo.
Courtship and marriage
Before a woman married she usually spent three days grinding corn at the groom’s home to prove her ability to perform this duty; sometimes she brought samples to prove her breadmaking talents. The groom-to-be and his relatives wove a special wedding garment for the bride. Before the wedding ceremony the groom’s mother washed the bride’s and groom’s hair. Then the groom’s father sprinkled a trail of cornmeal from his house to the bride’s, where a feast was celebrated. In a final ceremony the couple took a small bit of cornmeal, walked silently to the eastern part of the mesa (a large hill with steep sides and a flat top), breathed upon the cornmeal, threw it toward the rising Sun, prayed, and returned to the village a married couple.
When a Pueblo man married he went to live in the home of his wife’s family, bringing along some of his family’s carefully preserved seeds for planting.
Various ceremonies surrounded childbirth. To insure a healthy baby, expectant mothers and fathers avoided looking at snakes or harming animals. After a midwife or male healer assisted with a baby’s birth, the newborn was washed, sprinkled with juniper ashes, and given an ear of white corn to keep as a reminder of its heritage. For twenty days following childbirth, a new mother drank juniper tea and took sweat baths in steam created by pouring water over a hot stone covered with juniper leaves.
Four to twenty days after birth the baby was taken outside at dawn to be greeted by the Sun. The father, or a healer called a shaman (pronounced SHAH-mun or SHAY-mun), then gave the child its name. After that the baby was strapped to a wooden board, where it would spend its first few months learning the value of stillness.
Although death was a sad occasion, the Pueblo believed the dead went on living in another, very different, world—a world in which night was day, day was night, and the seasons were switched. Excessive mourning for the dead was discouraged as a waste of time.
Prior to burial the Pueblo cleaned the body and dressed it in fine clothes. They placed feathers in the corpse’s hands. For four days attendants sat by the body; then took it outside to be buried, along with food and tools. Dead children, believed to be too little to make the journey to the afterlife, were often buried underneath the family home. It was hoped that their souls would enter new babies born in the home.
Current tribal issues
Many Pueblo communities struggle with issues relating to water and land rights, lack of employment opportunities, and adequate health care. In recent years the Indian Health Service began cooperating closely with Native healers to improve the health status of the tribe.
An especially difficult challenge facing the Pueblo groups is the redevelopment of their economy. New methods of farming are being explored and refined. Some pueblos are encouraging tourism and related businesses. Many artists find success selling silver and turquoise jewelry, pottery, sculptures, and carved kachinas. And several New Mexico pueblos built casino gaming facilities, generating considerable controversy in the process.
In an ongoing effort to hold on to their ancestral lands, the Pueblo people have appealed repeatedly to U.S. Congress and the court system. One of the most famous land rights battles was waged by the Taos Pueblo (see entry). The Pueblo are also trying to maintain their tribal culture and customs.
Joe Simon Sando (1923–; Paa Peh in Pueblo) is a Jemez Pueblo scholar and lecturer who has written four books on the lives, culture, and history of the Pueblo Indians: The Pueblo Indians,Pueblo Indian Biographies,Nee Hemish: The History of the Jemez Pueblo, and Pueblo Nations: Eight Centuries of Pueblo Indian History.
Other notable Pueblo include anthropologist, linguist, author, and educator Edward P. Dozier (1916–1971), who specialized in the study of his own people; Frank C. Dukepoo (1943–1999), a Hopi-Laguna Pueblo geneticist and founder of the National Native American Honor Society; world-famous Santa Clara Pueblo artist Pablita Velarde (1918–2006) and her daughter, also an artist, Helen Hardin (1946–1984).
Bial, Raymond. The Pueblo. New York: Benchmark Books, 2000.
Cory, Steven. Pueblo Indian. Minneapolis, MN: Lerner Publications Co., 1996.
Eaton, William M. Odyssey of the Pueblo Indians: An Introduction to Pueblo Indian Petroglyphs, Pictographs and Kiva Art Murals in the Southwest. Paducah, KY: Turner Publishing Company, 2002.
Levy, Janey. Native American Art from the Pueblos. New York: Rosen Publishing Group, 2002.
Mcintosh, Kenneth. Pueblo. Philadelphia, PA: Mason Crest Publishers, 2004.
Pijoan, Teresa. Pueblo Indian Wisdom: Native American Legends and Mythology. Santa Fe, NM: Sunstone Press, 2000.
St. Lawrence, Genevieve. The Pueblo And Their History. Minneapolis, MN: Compass Point Books, 2006.
Sweet, Jill D. Dances of the Tewa Pueblo Indians: Expressions of New Life. Santa Fe, NM: School Of American Research Press, 2004.
Cordell, Linda. “Albuquerque’s Environmental Story: Heritage and Human Environment, Pueblo Indian Influence.” Albuquerque Official City Website. (accessed on August 8, 2007).
“Pueblo Indian History and Resources.” Pueblo Indian. (accessed on August 8, 2007).
“Research Starters: Anasazi and Pueblo Indians.” Scholastic.com. (accessed on August 8, 2007).
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. (accessed on August 8, 2007).
Ned Blackhawk, Associate Professor, Department of History, American Indian Studies Program, University of Wisconsin, Madison
"Pueblo Indians" is the generic label for American Indian groups of the Southwest who are descended from the Anasazi peoples who inhabited the American Southwest continuously from the eighth century a.d. Prior to Spanish arrival in and settlement of the Southwest beginning with Francisco Vásquez Coronado's expedition of 1540-1542 there were ninety or more Pueblo groups in northern Arizona and New Mexico. Today, twenty-one groups still exist, with all but two (the Hopi in Arizona and the Tigua in Texas) in northern New Mexico. Among distinguishing features of the Pueblo culture are long-term occupation of the region, permanent villages, distinctive stone or adobe pueblo dwellings built around central plazas, semisubterranean ceremonial chambers (kivas), a traditional subsistence economy based on the irrigated cultivation of maize, squash, and beans, and extensive use of highly stylized coiled pottery. Of the extant Pueblo groups, seven speak Keresan, six speak Tewa, five speak Tiwa, and one each speak Hopi, Towa, and Zuni languages. For the purpose of discussion, the Pueblo groups are categorized on the basis of location: Eastern (near the Rio Grande in New Mexico) or Western (in mesa and canyon country in western New Mexico and eastern Arizona). Cultural variations among groups, however, do not conform neatly to these linguistic and geographical divisions.
Extensive archaeological research indicates that ancestors of some contemporary Pueblo groups had moved north from Mexico by at least 1000 b.c. Descendants of these groups then progressed through a series of cultural traditions culminating in the distinctive Anasazi culture, whose most notable feature was the cliff dwellings found in canyons in northern Arizona and New Mexico and southern Utah and Colorado. The contemporary cultures of the surviving Pueblo groups are an amalgam of the traditional culture as modified by Mexican, Spanish, Roman Catholic, Protestant, and European-American influences. Despite centuries of external influence, however, each group has maintained its identity as a distinct people. There are important differences among groups and sometimes within groups as regards adherence to traditional beliefs and practices, degree of integration into European-American society, and economic well-being. Today, Pueblo groups and manifestations of their culture, such as pottery, jewelry, dances, and so on, are an important tourist attraction and a major element in the New Mexico State economy. Pan-Pueblo interests are represented by the All Pueblo Council, though each group retains and emphasizes its cultural and political autonomy.
Acoma. There were 2,681 Indian inhabitants of the 245,672-acre Acoma Indian Reservation in 1980. The Reservation is located about sixty-five miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Acoma Pueblo, located atop a 350-foot mesa, has been occupied for as long as a thousand years, making it, along with Oraibi, a Hopi village in Arizona, the two oldest, continuously occupied settlements in North America. Acoma is a western Keresan language and is still spoken, along with English. The current economy rests on cattle raising, tourism, the sale of pottery and other craft items, and mining on reservation land. The Acoma have retained much of their traditional culture.
Cochiti. There were 613 Indian inhabitants of the 28,776-acre Cochiti Indian Reservation in 1980. The reservation is about thirty miles southwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Cochiti is an eastern Keresan language and is spoken today, along with Spanish and English. Much of the traditional Culture is still followed, including the traditional form of government, religious and other ceremonies open only to the Cochiti, and the wearing of traditional-style clothing. At the same time, attempts have been made at economic development to take advantage of mineral wealth on reservation land.
Laguna. There were 3,564 Indian inhabitants of the 412,211-acre Laguna Indian Reservation in 1980 (the Reservation is actually in three parcels). It is located about forty-five miles west of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The major segment of the Acoma Reservation borders the Laguna Reservation on the west. Their name for themselves is "Kawiak," and Laguna is a western Keresan language. Laguna was settled by migrants from a number of other pueblos in 1697. Unlike other groups who live primarily in or near one village, the Laguna live in more than a half-dozen villages on the reservation. The group derives much income from royalties on uranium ore-mining leases and has invested strongly in economic development. Although more assimilated into Anglo society than most other Pueblo groups, the traditional language, religion, crafts, and ties to other groups are maintained.
San Felipe. There were 1,789 Indian inhabitants of the 48,853-acre San Felipe Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located twenty-five miles north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their name for themselves is "Katishtya." The San Felipe speak an eastern Keresan language. The contemporary Culture represents a mix of the traditional culture, modern Anglo culture, and Roman Catholicism.
Santa Ana. There were 407 Indian inhabitants of the 45,527-acre Santa Ana Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located twenty-three miles north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Santa Ana name for themselves is "Tanava," and they speak an eastern Keresan language. They now live mainly in the village of Ranchos de Santa Ana on the reservation, Returning to the traditional village for religious ceremonies.
Santo Domingo. There were 2,139 Indian inhabitants of the 69,260-acre Santo Domingo Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located about twenty-five miles southwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Santo Damingo name for themselves is "Kiua," and they speak an eastern Keresan langauge. Despite regular contact with outsiders and participation in the Regional and national pottery and silver jewelry market, Santo Domingo remains one of the most conservative of the Pueblo groups. Their adherence to tradtional ways is manifested in the strength of the traditional religion, the regular use of the native language, the retention of traditional clothing, and the maintenance of traditional kin ties.
Zia. There were 524 Indian inhabitants of the 112,511-acre Zia Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located about twenty miles southwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their name for themselves is "Tseya," and they speak an eastern Keresan language. The Zia are known for their distinctive pottery and for the accommodation they have forged between their traditional culture and Roman Catholicism.
Nambe. There were 188 Indian inhabitants of the 19,073-acre Nambe Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located fifteen miles northeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Nambe speak Tewa, a Tanoan language. The Nambe were much influenced by neighboring Spanish communities, and much of the traditional culture has disappeared.
Pojoaque. There were 94 Indian residents of the 11,599-acre Pojoaque Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located fifteen miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. They speak Tewa, a Tanoan language. Almost extinct in the late 1800s, the Pojoaque have slowly increased in numbers, although they are largely assimilated into Anglo society.
San Ildefonso. There were 488 Indian inhabitants of the 26,192-acre San Ildefonso Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located eighteen miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The San Ildefonso name for themselves is "Poxwogeh," and they have lived in their current location for seven hundred years. They speak Tewa, a Tanoan language. San Ildefonso was the center of the rebirth of American Indian arts and crafts in the 1920s, primarily through the world-famous black-on-black pottery of Maria Martinez. The modern pueblo combines traditional beliefs and practices with integration into the local economy and modern, adobe-style Community buildings.
San Juan. There were 851 Indian inhabitants of the 12,232-acre San Juan Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located twenty-four miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The San Juan name for themselves is Okeh," and they speak Tewa, a Tanoan language. They are closely related to the neighboring Santa Clara. The San Juan have intermarried more with the Spanish than any other Pueblo group, though the traditional culture and language remain strong.
Santa Clara. There were 1,839 Indian inhabitants of the 45,744-acre Santa Clara Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located thirty miles northwest of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Santa Clara name for themselves is "Xapogeh," and they speak Tewa, a Tanoan language. Although the language is still spoken and the traditional religion is practiced, the Santa Clara have been much involved in the external economy, Primarily through tourism and the sale of Santa Clara pottery.
Tesuque. There were 236 Indian inhabitants of the 16,810-acre Tesuque Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located ten miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Their name for themselves is "Tetsugeh," and they speak Tewa, a Tanoan language. The Tesuque have lived in their current location for over seven hundred years. Roman Catholicism is followed, though it exists alongside the traditional religion. The Tesuque operate a large bingo hall and campground for tourists.
Isleta. There were 2,289 Indian inhabitants of the 210,937-acre Isleta Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located fifteen miles south of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Their name for themselves is "Tuei," and they speak southern Tiwa, a Tanoan language. The Pueblo was built around 1709 and counts as its current residents descendants of a number of Pueblo groups including the Hopi, Laguna, Acoma, and Isleta. Despite the closeness to Albuquerque, the Isleta have managed to maintain much of their traditional culture.
Picuris. There were 125 Indian inhabitants of the 14,947-acre Picuris Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located forty miles northeast of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Picuris Pueblo was founded nearly seven hundred years ago. The Picuris were Influenced by the Spanish, Plains Indians, and Apache and have been attempting to maintain the traditional culture. They speak northern Tiwa, a Tanoan language and are closely related to the nearby Taos.
Sandia. There were 227 Indian inhabitants of the 22,884-acre Sandia Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located fifteen miles north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Sandia name for themselves is "Nafiat," and they speak southern Tiwa, a Tanoan language. Although much of the traditional culture survives, it is under increasing pressure since the Sandia are much involved in tourism.
Taos. See Taos
Jemez. There were 1,504 Indian inhabitants of the 88,860-acre Jemez Indian Reservation in 1980. It is located forty-five miles northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico. The Jemez name for themselves is "Walatowa," and they speak Towa, a Tanoan language. Jemez is also the home of the descendants of the people of Pecos Pueblo, southeast of Santa Fe, which was abandoned in the late 1880s. The Jemez were active participants in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 amd subsequent Revolts. The Jemez maintain ties to the Navajo, which can be traced back to their alliance in the 1696 revolt against the Spanish.
Hopi. See Hopi
Zuni. See Zuni
Tigua. There were 365 Indian inhabitants on or near the three small (73 acres in all) state reservations near El Paso, Texas, in 1980. The Tigua migrated from Isleta in 1862 and are therefore not considered a distinct group by some experts. The Tigua have been much influenced by the nearby Mexican society and have retained less of the traditional culture than the other Pueblo groups to the north.
See alsoKeres, Tewa
PUEBLO is a Spanish word meaning "town" that refers to twenty aggregated Native American communities on the Colorado Plateau in northern New Mexico and Arizona. The basic characteristics of Pueblo culture—apartment-like traditional houses, maize agriculture, and pottery-making—have their origins in the Ancestral Puebloan (formally known as the Anasazi) occupation of the Colorado Plateau that extends back 2,000 years. Western Pueblos include Laguna, Acoma, and Zuni in northwestern New Mexico and Hopi in northeastern Arizona. Sixteen eastern Pueblos are clustered along the Rio Grande River valley in northern New Mexico. The eastern Pueblos are the focus of this discussion.
There are many similarities among the eastern Pueblos, but disparate origins are suggested by differences in language, patterns of kinship, and ritual details. Eastern Pueblo languages are divided into two groups. Keresan languages are spoken in Zia, Santa Ana, San Felipe, Santo Domingo, and Cochiti, as well as in Laguna and Acoma. Kiowa-Tanoan languages include Northern Tiwa, spoken at Taos and Picuris; Southern Tiwa, spoken at Isleta and Sandia; Tewa, spoken at San Juan, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Nambe, Pojoaque, and Tesuque; and Towa, spoken at Jemez. Numerous ruins along the Rio Grande testify to the antiquity of native occupation. Pueblos such as Pecos, east of Santa Fe, were abandoned in historic times. Traditional architecture, such as that still seen at Taos, consists of multi-storied, apartment-like houses built of sandstone or adobe. Many traditional aspects of life have persisted through Spanish, Mexican, and U.S. domination over the past five centuries.
Puebloan peoples are traditionally farmers, growing maize, beans, squash, melons, and chiles. Trips are taken throughout the year to hunt, to gather plants and resources such as salt, and to visit shrines. Pueblos near the Great Plains, such as Taos and Pecos, traded with Plains tribes for buffalo hides and meat. The Spanish introduced wheat, oats, fruit trees, horses, cattle, pigs, chicken, sheep, and goats. By the latter part of the twentieth century, wage labor had replaced traditional agriculture as the primary source of income. A growing market for Native American arts has fueled the increasing production of arts and crafts for sale, including traditional crafts such as pottery-making, weaving, leatherwork, lapidary work, and carving and more recent introductions such as silver jewelry work.
Social institutions vary among groups. Among the Tewa communities, social structure takes the form of patrilineal, nonexogamous divisions, or moeities, associated with summer and winter. Among the Keresan groups, matrilineal exogamous clans, or clusters of related lineages, are more important, but moeities are also present. Today political control is strong and centralized in the form of a cacique and a tribal council. Strong notions of cyclicity and dualism underlie much eastern Pueblo social organization. Astronomical events such as solstices or equinoxes divide the year in two. There is a complex annual cycle of communal activities involving harvest, construction, and ritual events. Moieties take turns organizing these events. Summer dances tend to revolve around fertility and bringing rain for crops, whereas winter dances emphasize hunting.
Spiritual, ritual, and social order are manifested not only through ceremony and daily life but also in the organization and layout of the physical Pueblo world. Pueblos are oriented around central plazas where daily activities as well as community rituals take place. Subterranean kivas are used for society meetings and ritual events. Puebloans share the belief that people emerged through an opening from a previous world and arrived at their current villages after a series of migrations. The Pueblo is seen as a center place, located in the middle of a series of horizontal and vertical dimensions that have social and ritual meaning. Nested series of shrines and natural landmarks represent these dimensions in the physical world. Today many families dwell primarily in nuclear family residences outside the village center, but they often maintain residences in the old, central pueblo, where they return for ritual and festive occasions.
In 1540, Francisco Vásquez de Coronado led a band of conquistadores into the Rio Grande valley and quartered his men at a group of twelve Tiwa pueblos near modern Bernalillo. The Pueblos initially welcomed the Spanish, offering them food and supplies. Soon Spanish demands began to tax Pueblo resources and hospitality, and they took food and women by force. In 1598, Don Juan de Oñate arrived at the head of a group of settlers who established a colony with headquarters in Santa Fe. Spanish colonists lacked enough resources to work the land and feed their people, so they instituted the encomienda, which gave colonists tribute rights to food and blankets from the Pueblos, and the repartimiento, which forced Puebloans into labor on Spanish farms and haciendas.
Religion was another major point of friction. Spanish missionaries were on a holy quest to convert Native Americans to Christianity, even if the campaign required force. Catholic churches were raised with native labor, and Pueblo peoples were taught European trades. Missionaries had no tolerance for native religious practices. Dances were prohibited, sacred paraphernalia was confiscated, and religious leaders were tortured and executed. Pueblo rituals continued in secret beneath a veneer of Catholicism and did not openly re-emerge until the 1800s. Contemporary Pueblo religion contains Catholic elements. Secrecy continues to surround native beliefs and ceremonies.
Friendly, commercial relationships between the Pueblos and their Apache and Navajo neighbors were disrupted by escalating patterns of raiding involving the Spanish. By the mid-1600s, Pueblo populations had been decimated by disease, famine, raids, and ill-treatment. In 1680, the allied Pueblos under the leadership of Popé evicted the Spanish in the Pueblo Revolt. All Spanish objects and churches were destroyed. The Spanish fled south to El Paso, but respite was short-lived. In 1692, Diego de Vargas led the reconquest of New Mexico. The area remained in Spanish hands until Mexican independence from Spain in 1821. New Mexico became part of the United States in 1848.
Sturtevant, William C. Handbook of North American Indians. Volume 9: Southwest, edited by Alfonso Ortiz. Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institution, 1979.
Trimble, Stephen. The People. Santa Fe, N.M.: School of American Research Press, 1993.
Ruth M.Van Dyke
The Pueblo are American Indians of the Southwest. Their ancestors were the prehistoric Anasazi Indians. Beginning in about a.d. 700–1000, the Anasazi, who had settled in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico, and northern Mexico, began building aboveground dwellings made of stone or adobe blocks. The more permanent shelters reflect a change in lifestyle: as they became increasingly dependent on agriculture (cultivating corn or maize), they also became more stationary. By a.d. 1000 the structures were more sophisticated; the Anasazi had begun to build multistoried houses in the rocky sides of mesas (flat-topped hills) and in canyon walls. For this reason they are sometimes called Cliff Dwellers. The Anasazi continued to farm the lands below their dwellings, which could easily be defended in case of raids. Their descendants, the Pueblo, were living in these areas when the Spaniards arrived in 1540. (Observing the settlements, the European explorers gave the natives the name "Pueblo," which means "village.")
During the next 100 years missionaries in the Southwest converted about 60,000 Pueblo Indians to Christianity. In August 1680 Popeé;, a Pueblo Indian, led an attack on Santa Fe, New Mexico, killing almost 500 Spaniards and driving the rest out. In what is known as the Pueblo Revolt, the Southwestern Indian group had reclaimed their territory, eradicating all Spanish-Christian influences and restoring their own culture in the region. This period of reclamation lasted 12 years: Upon Popé's death in 1692, the Spanish recaptured New Mexico and reestablished colonial rule. A band of Pueblos escaped to the west, remained free, and came to be called Western Pueblos. Few traditional (pre-Spanish) Pueblo villages remain today.
See also: Anasazi, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Santa Fe, Southwestern Indians, Utah
pueb·lo / ˈpweblō; poōˈeb-/ • n. (pl. -los) 1. an American Indian settlement of the southwestern U.S., esp. one consisting of multistoried adobe houses built by the Pueblo people. ∎ (in Spanish-speaking regions) a town or village. 2. (Pueblo) (pl. same or -los) a member of any of various American Indian peoples, including the Hopi, occupying pueblo settlements chiefly in New Mexico and Arizona. Their prehistoric period is known as the Anasazi culture.• adj. (Pueblo) of, relating to, or denoting the Pueblos or their culture.