The Pueblo Indians are the historic descendants of the Anasazi peoples, also known as the “Basket Makers”. The Pueblo people live in several locations in northeastern Arizona and northwestern New Mexico in compact, permanent settlements known as pueblos. Pueblo means village or town in Spanish. The Pueblos were first encountered by the Spanish in 1539, by the Spanish Franciscan missionary Marcos de Niza. A year later the Spanish explorer Francisco Vaasquez de Coronado, searching for the legendary Seven Cities of
Ciibola, led an expedition among the Hopi people. When failing to find any treasure, he withdrew. In 1598, the Spanish occupied the Pueblo country, and by 1630 Spanish missions were established in almost every village. A mass Pueblo revolt in 1680 drove the Spanish from the territory. No other indigenous group had succeeded in doing this, and the Pueblo were not re-conquered until 1692. Few of the missions were reestablished, and most of the villages continued their ancient religion. The number of villages at this time was reduced from about 80 to bout 30.
The Pueblo remained under Spanish, and then Mexican domination until the close of the Mexican War in 1848. This is when the Pueblo came under the United States jurisdiction. Throughout this time, they preserved their traditional culture to an unusually high degree, often adopting superficial religious or governmental changes but maintaining the old ways in secrecy. The western villages, particular, resisted Spanish influence. In the eastern villages, some Spanish elements were assimilated into their own ways of life.
The contemporary Pueblo are divided into eastern and western. The eastern Pueblos include all the New Mexico pueblos along the Rio Grande, while the western Pueblos include the Hopi villages of northern Arizona and the Zuni, Acoma, and Laguna villages, all in western New Mexico. Modern Pueblo social life centers on the village (which is also the political unit), though the pueblos are essentially theocracies. The communal building of the present-day pueblo is a solid structure of adobe bricks or stone set in clay and mortar.
AS each village grows larger, rooms are added to the pueblos, since whole villages live in one simple complex together. Social structures of the Pueblo are organized in clans and lineages. Their descent is traced through the women, and the women also own the house. Although nominally Christianized, all Pueblo maintain their ancient beliefs. The principal ceremonies in this society are arranged by the secret societies that. These ceremonies are held between crop seasons and consist of prayer and thanksgivings for rain and good crops.
The Pueblo revere ancestral and other benevolent spirits called kachinas as bringers of rain and social good. Their spirits are believed to possess the masked dancers who impersonate them in rituals, and dolls depicting them are given to children. The Pueblo economy is based on agriculture, supplemented by raising livestock and, often, by the sale of handicraft. Each village cultivates fields in common related groups. The crops include corn, beans, cotton, melon, squash, and chili peppers.
Men generally work the fields, weave, build houses, and onduct ceremonies; women prepare food, care for children, make baskets and pottery, and transport water. Pottery is also a big part of society, as each community has their own individual style and technique. In the 21st century, low incomes, poor health care, poor schooling, and in some pueblos, unemployment, together with a clash of values with the dominate white culture, have led to Pueblos to anger and social distress. Most Pueblos who have left their villages return time to time to regain contact with the social and religious values of their tradition.