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Setting the Stage

Be aware that the Spanish word for a village is "pueblo" and American Indians who live in villages in the Southwest are known as "Puebloans" or "Pueblo Indians." In the remote Salinas basin in central New Mexico stand the weathered ruins of three Puebloan villages and the 17th-century Spanish colonial missions that make up Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument. Two ancient southwestern cultural traditions--the Mogollon (muggy-own) and Anasazi--overlapped here and resulted in the Puebloan communities of Abó, Quarai, and Gran Quivira (also known as Las Humanas). From about A.D. 1000 to the 1600s, these three villages operated as major regional centers of trade with Indians from the Plains, the Pacific Coast, and the Great Basin. Gran Quivira, the largest of the Salinas villages, became a bustling community of 3,000 inhabitants.

Beginning in the 16th century, exploration and colonization by the Spanish greatly influenced the lives of the Puebloan people. Spain established missions throughout the Salinas basin in an attempt to Christianize and bring the roughly 10,000 Indian people living there into Spanish society. These missions were self-sufficient communities that included the Indian village or pueblo, a church, the friars' quarters or convento, fields, hunting and gathering areas, and work areas. Under the mission system, villagers received regimented instruction in Christianity as well as in European social and agricultural practices. But, the mission system did not survive long in the Salinas basin, and by the late 1670s, the inhabitants of this once thriving area were all but gone.



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