Pecos Tribe

Pecos Indians (from P’e’-a-ku’, the Keresan name of the pueblo). Formerly the largest and most populous of the pueblos of New Mexico in historic times, occupied by a people speaking the same language of the Tanoan family, with dialectic variations, as that of Jemez; situated on an upper branch of Pecos River, about 30 miles south east of Santa Fe. In prehistoric times the Pecos people occupied numerous pueblos containing from 200 to 300 rooms each, and many compactly built single-story house groups of from 10 to 50 rooms each. These were scattered along the valley from the north end of Cañon de Pecos grant to Anton Chico, a distance of 40 miles. At the time of the arrival of the first Spaniards under Coronado, in 1540, the tribe had become concentrated in the great communal structure popularly known as Pecos. According to Bandelier, the Pecos declare that they came into their valley from the south east, but that they originated in the north and shifted across the Rio Grande, occupying successively the pueblos now in ruins at San Jose and Kingman previous to locating at their final settlement. The principal pueblo of the tribe, according to the same authority, was Tshiquité, or Tziquité (the pueblo of Pecos), which he identifies with the Acuique, Cicuic, Cicuye, etc., of the early Spanish chroniclers. Gatschet 1, however, records Sikuyé as an Isleta name of Pecos pueblo, and as the Isleta People are Tigua and Coronado went from Tiguex (Tigua) province directly to Pecos in 1540, it seems more likely that Cicuye in its various forms was the Tigua name of Pecos pueblo in the 16th century. Bandelier thinks it possible that the ruins at Las Ruedas and El Gusano are those of pueblos also occupied by the Pecos people contemporaneously with their principal town at the time of the Spanish advent, and, in deed, Zarate-Salmeron, about 1629, mentions that the tribe at that date occupied also the pueblo of Tuerto, near the present Golden. At the time of Coronado’s visit Pecos contained 2,000 to 2,500 inhabitants. It consisted of two great communal dwellings, built on the terrace plan, each 4 stories high, and containing 585 and 517 rooms respectively in its ground plan. Two Franciscan friars remained there after Coronado’s departure in 1542, but both were probably killed before the close of the year. Pecos was visited also by Espejo in 1583, Castañode Sosa in 1590-91, and Oñate in 1598, the last calling it Santiago. During the governorship of Oñate the first permanent missionaries were assigned to Pecos, and the great church, so long a landmark on the Santa Fe trail, was erected about 1617. The pueblo suffered severely first at the hands of the Querecho, or Apache of the plains, and after 1700 through raids by the Comanche. In the revolts of 1680-96 against Spanish authority Pecos played an important part, and its actual decline may be said to have begun at this time. In 1760 Galisteo was a visita of its mission, and, including the latter pueblo, Pecos contained 599 inhabitants in that year. In 1782, however, the Pecos mission was abandoned, its people being ministered by a priest from Santa Fé. Its population had dwindled to 152 in 1790-93, probably on account of a Comanche raid in which nearly every man in the tribe was killed. Epidemics, brought about apparently by the proximity of the cemetery to the source of water supply, also hastened the diminution of the Pecos people. In 1805 they had become reduced to 104, and in 1838 the pueblo was finally abandoned, the 17 survivors moving to Jemez, where there are now perhaps 25 Indians of Pecos blood, only one of whom however was born at the mother pueblo. The names of Pecos ruins, so far as recorded, are Kuuanguala, Pomojoua, San José (modern Spanish name of locally), Seyupa, and Tonchuun.

The Pecos clans were as follows:

  • Waha (Cloud)
  • Pe (Sun)
  • Ya (Coyote)
  • Seé (Eagle)
  • Kyunu (Corn)
  • Sohl (Badger)
  • Sungti (Turquoise)
  • Daahl (Earth or Sand)
  • Wahaha (Calabash)
  • Kiahl (Crow) Pa (Deer)
  • Shiankya (Mountain lion)
  • Whala (Bear)
  • Fwaha
  • (Fire)
  • Amu (Ant)
  • Kotsaa ( Pine)
  • Petdelu (Wild Turkey)
  • Tashtye (Buffalo)
  • Gyuungsh (Oak)
  • Alawahku
  • (Elk)
  • Alu (Antelope)
  • Morbah (Parrot)
  • Hayah (Snake)


  1. Gatschet, Isleta MS. vocab., B. A. E., 1879[]


Hodge, Frederick Webb, Compiler. The Handbook of American Indians North of Mexico. Bureau of American Ethnology, Government Printing Office. 1906.

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