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Field Division of Education
Preliminary Report on the Ethnography of the Southwest
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The Pueblo Indians are broadly characterized by sedentary habits of life, an almost complete dependence upon agriculture for their food supply, and the building of compact village structures of substantial architecture. As a group they are set off sharply from the other Indian peoples of the Southwest. They are peaceable in habits but are strongly attached to their own ways of life. Despite centuries of white contacts, they preserve their native culture perhaps more completely than any other Indian group in North America. Particularly is this true of their religious life about which the eastern Pueblos in particular have built up an almost impenetrable wall of secrecy. The degree of secretiveness in each Pueblo is in almost direct proportion to the extent of white contacts. It is based not only upon the desire to avoid interference and unsympathetic misunderstandings, but in many cases upon a real feeling that something of the efficacy of certain ceremonies will be lost through even passive participation of the uninitiated.

Although there are basic similarities common to the 26 surviving Pueblos, no two are exactly alike in detail. Not only are there cultural differences, but many languages and dialects are represented. Map 2 summarizes the data which were dealt with in detail in the section on languages. Culturally the Pueblos must be subdivided for intelligent discussion. First will be described the eastern Pueblos of the Rio Grande; then the Zuni and Hopi Pueblos.

A brief descriptive note of the various Pueblos follows:

Taos: Tigua-speaking town, located on Taos River, tributary of the Rio Grande, 52 miles northeast of Santa Fe. Village one of most picturesque of the Pueblos; is composed of two roughly pyramidal groups of houses several stories in height on opposite banks of the river. The Taos people have had many relations with the Ute and Comanche and have many Plains Indian traits. Outstanding public ceremony September 30. No published study of this Pueblo of importance exists. They are notably secretive people.

Picuris: Tigua Pueblo, 40 miles north of Santa Fe. The population is quite small. Its most important public ceremony is August 10. Picuris has not been studied.

San Juan: One of the largest Tewa-speaking Pueblos, situated on the east bank of the Rio Grande, 25 miles northwest of Santa Fe. The houses are not over two stories and are arranged along streets centering on an irregular plaza. The people are rather prosperous, and, externally, somewhat more Europeanized than most of the Pueblos. Some few articles of pottery and beaded buckskin may be found of interest to collectors. The public festival is, as in most Pueblos, the Saint's Day, June 24, with dances, games, and footraces.

Santa Clara: Tewa Pueblo on the west bank of the Rio Grande about 24 miles above Santa Fe, Small and somewhat conservative; especially noted for fine blackware potter. The architecture is unimpressive. Saint's festival August 12.

San Ildefonso: Small Tewa-speaking community with some Mexican admixture, five miles southwest of Santa Clara on east bank of the Rio Grande. Houses two story and terraced; arranged on streets running parallel to an elongated Plaza. Some poor pottery was and still is made; outstanding feature is great revival of high-grade pottery, tending toward the ancient forms and designs. Public fiestas, January 23 and September 6.

Tesuque: Small, self-contained, and most secretive Tewa Pueblo on left bank of Tesuque River, 8 Miles north of Santa Fe. Town is largely composed of one terraced block of Multi-storied houses. Native dress more common than elsewhere on women. A few pottery objects sold but these and other things made expressly for sale are of little merit. Tesuque least known Tewa Pueblo despite closeness to Santa Fe.

Nambe: Tewa Pueblo 16 miles north of Santa Fe on Nambe River. Town rectangular, built about a square plaza. Kiva or religious structure is more apparent here, partially above ground; outsiders sometimes permitted to enter.

Jemez: Only Pueblo now speaking Jemez language of Tanoan stock, the same as that once spoken at Pecos, now important Archaeological site. Located on north bank, Jemez River, 20 miles northwest of Bernalillo, New Mexico. Houses generally two stories and built in several clusters about a plaza and two parallel streets.

Cochiti: Keresan Pueblo on west bank, Rio Grande, 27 miles southwest of Santa Fe. Site picturesque; houses generally detached and one story. People conservative but hold public ceremonies, particularly on July 14. Considerable pottery made.

Santo Domingo: Large conservative Keresan Pueblo, east bank, Rio Grande, 18 miles above Bernalillo. Houses one or two stories high arranged on four streets. Various public dances, particularly August 4, when occurs one of most striking public ceremonies of the Southwest.

San Felipe: Good-sized Keresan town, west bank of Rio Grande about 12 miles above Bernalillo. Externally one of least interesting Keresan towns; built about a large plaza.

Sia: Small Keresan Pueblo, north bank of Jemez River about 16 miles northwest of Bernalillo. Much of town ruinous; population has been declining for many years. Houses mostly one story. Famous potters; very conservative in mode of life. Best public ceremony August 15.

Santa Aria: Keresan Pueblo, north bank of Jemez River, 9 miles below Sia. Two-story terraced houses along two streets parallel to river at foot of steep mesa. Good pottery.

Sandia: Small Tigua-speaking Pueblo, east bank Rio Grande 12 miles north of Albuquerque. inhabitants once took refuge from the Spanish among the Hopi, returning about 1748. Extremely secretive and conservative.

Isleta: Largest Figua Pueblo with around 1000 inhabitants, west bank of Rio Grande, 12 miles south of Albuquerque. Europeanized and a strong center of Catholic missionary work but still retains many primitive and secret rites. Houses one story, arranged in orderly fashion along streets. Furniture and other material aspects of town strongly Europeanized.

Laguna: Large Keresan Pueblo of about 1000 inhabitants, south bank of San Jose River, 45 miles west of Albuquerque. Town picturesquely situated, terraced Pueblo but tending to disintegrate as people move to farming villages. Some picturesque public ceremonies. Pottery very good.

Acoma: Keresan speaking and most romantically situated of all Pueblos on summit of high mesa. Three regular rows of three-story houses comprise Pueblo. Extremely conservative although perhaps less secretive than Rio Grande towns. Pottery of exceptional quality. Best known public ceremony September 2; at all times admission charged to visit Pueblo.

Zuni: Last of famous seven cities of Cibola; language believed to be very distantly related to Uto-Aztekan. Located on north bank Zuni River in western New Mexico, not far from Arizona, west of Acoma. Most houses grouped into pyramid-like structure reaching height of five stories, with several interior courts. Zuni distrust of Mexicans has not been transferred to Americans as on the Rio Grande and despite growing tendency toward secrecy, are still hospitable and practise many native arts, pottery, bead making, a little weaving, and imported silver-working. Ceremonies less contaminated by Catholic influence and more easily seen.

Hopi: Occupy a number of villages in northeastern Arizona north of Winslow and Holbrook. Somewhat inaccessible, the Hopi villages are most interesting because of slight influence exerted upon them by Spanish and Mexicans. The Hopi towns all typical Pueblo agglomerations of terraced houses located on summits of three long mesas several hundred feet high. Agriculture practised at foot with great ingenuity under conditions of extraordinary difficulty. First mesa supports three villages, one of which, Hano, is not numbered among Hopi villages, being founded by immigrants from Tewa on Rio Grande. Other two towns are Sichimovi and Walpi. Second Mesa towns are Mishongnovi and Shipaulovi, and offshoot of the latter, Shumopovi. Third Mesa occupied by Oraibi and nearby another town, Hotavilla, established in 1904 by seceding conservatives from Oraibi. Other new settlements and farming colonies not included in list. Many handicrafts practised including pottery, weaving, basketry, and pottery making. Many spectacular rites include phases open to public view. Best known is biennial snake dance.

(Kidder, Handbook, 1924, Denver Museum Leaflets, 45-46.)


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