Published on October 10, 2014 by Amy
The term Pueblo is sometimes used to describe the Southwest Indians, particularly those native to the deserts of New Mexico, Arizona and Texas. Pueblo Indians live in desert regions and were farmers, hunters and gatherers. The Pueblo Indians stored food to avoid waste and to provide food and seeds for future harvests, but also to keep up or establish trade with others.
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The Pueblo Indians normally consumed vegetables, but also hunted when animals would be in the region. They hunted smaller animals, like rabbits, and larger game, like deer and antelope. In order to avoid having the meat spoil, the Pueblo would dry the meat in the sun and store it for the future. This allowed them to have meat during periods that they couldn’t find animals to hunt.
The Pueblos primary harvest was corn, but they also grew other vegetables like peppers, onions and tobacco. Traditionally, they ground corn, dried it and then used it later. They also produced corn flour to make bread and other meals, such as stews. Items like chiles were often roasted prior to storage so they could be used in different meals for flavoring. Vegetables were kept underground to keep them from rotting or spoiling in the sun. They also picked fruit and nuts and then stored them for later, sometimes dried.
In addition to meat, vegetables and fruits, Pueblos would also harvest and store seeds. Seed saving was an important part of the culture and allowed the Pueblos to produce their own food and maintain the health of their communities. This differs immensely from today’s mass production of seeds where corporations manipulate seeds through genetic engineering. The Pueblo culture was largely land-based, so harvesting and storing seeds protected the future of their community.
The Pueblo Indians learned to store water through dams, stone cisterns and irrigation systems. They used this not only for their drinking water, but also as a means of irrigating their crops in the desert environment.
Although the Pueblos normally traded turquoise and pottery, they sometimes used stored food during trades with other tribes: for food, livestock, clothing or other necessary items. Trade was essential to the Pueblo economy, as they used food and other goods as a means of payment.