Published on May 9, 2015 by Amy
The Pueblo Indians are a group of native tribes who inhabit regions of north eastern Arizona and north western New Mexico. Today the Pueblo are divided in eastern and western divisions. In the eastern division are the New Mexico Pueblo while the western Pueblo comprise the Hopi, the Zuni, Acoma and Laguna who live in western New Mexico as well as about two dozen other bands.
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The Pueblo are the descendants of the ancient Anasazi people. For hundreds of years these people lived in relative peace in small, scattered villages in Colorado and Utah. . By the early 1100s, however, they had left these small villages in favor of larger, more compact Pueblos. In the 1200s a long period of drought affected the people and the failing crops and lack of water forced the Pueblo south. Around 1300 they drifted south to the Rio Grande.
They live in permanent settlements known as Pueblos, a Spanish word meaning village or town. They are well known for the stone or adobe apartment like dwelling structures. The rooms of these dwellings are square and they have thick, flat roofs. The homes are built in terraced stories. The roof of one home is reached from the level below by a movable ladder. The traditional dwelling did not have windows or doors, with access being through trapdoors in the roof. This was a protection against enemy invasion. Modern dwellings, however, have glass windows and hinged doors. The Pueblo are an agricultural people, mainly farming corn and cotton, which they grow in irrigated fields located in river bottoms. Traditionally, men were the farmers until it was time for them to go on the hunt. The Pueblo would hunt for deer, antelope and rabbit. On occasion, however, special hunting parties would be sent to the plains in search of the bison.
The Pueblo village was self governing prior to the time of Spanish contact. The chief of each village was the leader of a religious society. The Spanish, however, began to impose European style governmental systems on the Pueblo. A Pueblo governor was put in place. This individual was democratically elected and would serve for a period of one year. The Spanish also made moves to centralise the people. As a result in the years following the arrival of the Spanish, the number of Pueblo fell from eighty to about twenty five. The Spanish introduced the horse, goat, cow and sheep to the Pueblo. From then on wool replaced cotton as the main textile used by the Pueblo. By about 1630 the Spanish had established missions in nearly every Pueblo. In 1680, however, the Pueblo rebelled against the Spanish and drove them from the territory. Twelve years later the Spanish returned and, after much bloodshed, reconquered the Pueblo. For the next 150 years the Pueblo remained under Spanish and then Mexican dominion. After the War with Mexico in 1848, the Pueblo came under the jurisdiction of the United States. Throughout this period, however, the Pueblo were able to keep a strong hold on their cultural identity.
The Pueblo community is divided into clans. For example there is the Corn Clan, the Turkey Clan and the Turquoise Clan. Members of these clans can play an important role in administration, government and religious ceremonies. The Pueblo are a deeply religious people with ceremonies that coincide with the agricultural seasons. Attempts have been made to Christianise the Pueblo, but they have retained many of their ancient beliefs. Prayers and thanksgiving are offered for crops and rain. Spirits – known as kachinas – are revered as bringers of good fortune.
The Pueblo are skilled basket makers. Each village has developed its own technique in basket making. The Pueblo are also accomplished potters. The pottery of these people is characterised by the beauty of it’s decoration and shape.
The Pueblo of today are living a life of economic struggle, characterised by low incomes, unemployment, poor health care and inadequate schooling. A resurgence of cultural identity has also led to a backlash against European culture.