Pueblo Family

Pueblo Indians, Pueblo Family – (towns, villages , so called on account of the peculiar style of compact permanent settlements of these people, as distinguished from temporary camps or scattered rancherias of less sub stantial houses). A term applied by the Spaniards and adopted by English-speaking people to designate all the Indians who lived or are living in permanent stone or adobe houses built into compact villages in south Colorado and central Utah, and in New Mexico, Arizona, and the adjacent Mexican territory, and extended sometimes to include the settlements of such tribes as the Pima and the Papago, who led an agricultural life. The Pueblo people of history comprise the Tanoan, Keresan (Queres), and Zunian linguistic families of New Mexico, and the Hopi, of Shoshonean affinity, in north east Arizona.

These are distributed as follows, the tribes or villages noted being only those now existent or that recently have become extinct:

Linguistic StockGroupTribes or Villages
Nambe, Tesuque, San Ildefonso, Jan Juan, Santa Clara, Pojoaque (recently extinct) Hano
Isleta, Sandia, Taos, Picuris, Isleta del Sur (Mexicanized)
Jemez, Pecos (extinct)
Practically extinct.
Senecu, Socorro del Sur, (both Mexicanized)
Keresan (Queres)
San Felipe, Santa Ana, Sia, Cochiti, San Domingo
Acoma, Laguna, and outlying villages
ZuñianZuñiZuñi and its outlying villages
ShoshoneanHopiWalpi, sichomovi, Mishongnovi, Sipaulovi, Shongopovi, Oraibi

Pueblo Indians Habitat

The Pueblo tribes of the historical period have been confined to the area extending from northeast Arizona to the Rio Pecos in New Mexico (and, intrusively, into west Kansas), and from Taos on the Rio Grande, New Mexico, in the north, to a few miles below El Paso, Texas, in the south. The ancient domain of Pueblo peoples, however, covered a much greater territory, extending approximately from w. Arizona to the Pecos and into the Texas panhandle, and from central Utah and south Colorado indefinitely southward into Mexico, where the remains of their habitations have not yet been clearly distinguished from those of the northern Aztec.

Pueblo Indians History

Of the pueblo tribes the Zuñi were the first to become known to civilized people. In 1539 Fray Marcos of Niza, a Franciscan, journeyed northward from the City of Mexico, accompanied by a Barbary Negro known as Estevan, or Estevanico, who had been a companion of Cabeza de Vaca and the two other Spanish survivors of Narvaez’s expedition, shipwrecked in the Gulf of Mexico in 1528. The Negro went ahead of the friar to prepare the way, but contrary to instructions reached a province that became known as the Seven Cities of Cibola, unquestionably identified with the Zuni villages of west New Mexico, far in advance of Fray Marcos. Here Estevanico, with some of the Indians who had followed him, was killed by the Zuñi. A few days later the friar viewed from an adjacent height a town identified as Hawikuh, the first one seen in journeying toward the north east; then planting a cross and taking formal possession of the new country in the name of Spain, he hastened back to the City of Mexico, where he presented a glowing report of what he had seen and heard.

Fired with enthusiasm at the report of riches in the northern country, the Viceroy Mendoza organized an expedition, under Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, which, for wealth of equipment and for the prominence of the men who accompanied it, has never been equaled in the annals of American exploration. Guided by Fray Marcos of Niza, the expedition departed from Compostela, Feb. 23, 1540, and reached Culiacan Mar. 28. On Apr. 22 Coronado departed from the latter place with 75 horsemen, leaving the main force to follow, and reached Hawikuh, which he named Granada, on July 7. The Indians showing hostility, the place was stored by the Spaniards and the inhabitants were routed after Coronado had almost lost his life in the attack. Exploring parties were sent in various directions-to the Hopi villages of Tusayan, the Grand Canyon of the Colorado, the Rio Grande valley, and the buffalo plains-no-where finding the expected wealth but always encouraged by news of what lay beyond. The main army reached Cibola in September, and departed for Tiguex (the country and chief village of the present Tigua Indians), about the present Bernalillo, on the Rio Grande, where winter quarters were established. The natives revolted owing to atrocities committed by the Spaniards, but the uprising was quelled after a long siege and the killing of many Indians. In the following April (1541) Coronado started with his entire force, under the guidance of an Indian nicknamed “The Turk,” evidently a Pawnee whom he had found living among the Pueblos, to explore a province to the far eastward called Quivira. The Spaniards were led astray by the guide, whom they later executed; the main force was sent back to the Rio Grande, and a picked body finally reached the buffalo country of east Kansas. In the spring of 1542 Coronado’s force started on their return to Mexico. Two missionaries were left behind-Fray Juan de Padilla, who went to Quivira, and Fray Luis, a lay brother, who remained at Pecos. Both were killed by the natives whom they expected to convert. In Coronado’s time the Pueblos were said to occupy 71 towns, and there may have been others which the Spaniards did not enumerate.

The Pueblos were visited successively by several other Spanish explorers.  Francisco Sanchez Chamuscado, in 1581, escorted three Franciscan missionaries to the Tigua country of the Rio Grande, but  they were killed soon after. Antonio de Espejo, late in 1582, started with a small force from San Bartolomé in Chihuahua for the purpose of determining the fateof the missionaries. He traversed the Pueblo country from the Hopi villages of  north east Arizona to Pecos in New Mexico, and returned to San Bartolomé by way of Pecos river. Espejo’s itinerary is traceable with no great difficulty, and most of his tribal names are readily identified. His estimates of population, however, are greatly exaggerated-in some cases at least ten times too large. Following Espejo, in 1590, was Gaspar Castaflo de Sosa, who with a party of 170 persons followed up the Pecos as far as the pueblo of that name, which is described as having five plazas and sixteen kivas; the pueblo was provided with ranch maize, and the pottery and the garments of the men and women aroused admiration. One of the most important of all the expeditions was that of Juan de Orate, the colonizer of New Mexico in 1598 and founder of Santa Fe seven years later; for by reason of it the Pueblo tribes were first definitely influenced by civilization. Traveling northward, Orate reached on May 22 the first pueblos of the Rio Grande-those of the Piro in the vicinity of the present Socorro. A party was sent to visit the pueblos of the Salinas, east of the Rio Grande, and the main body reached the Tigua country a few weeks later, finding there, at Puaray village, evidences of the murder of the friars in 1581. Other pueblos were visited, the natives taking the oath of obedience and homage in each instance, and several saint names were applied that have remained to this clay. The Pueblo country was divided into districts, to each of which a priest was assigned, but little was done toward the founding of permanent missions during Oflate’s stay. The first settlement of the Snaniards was established, under the name San Gabriel de los Espanoles, on the Rio Grande at the Tewa village of Yukewingge, at the mouth of the Rio Chama, opposite San Juan pueblo; it remained the seat of the colony until the spring of 1605, when it was abandoned and Santa Fe founded.

Active missionary work among the Pueblos was commenced early in the 17th century, and although many baptisms were made by the few resident friars little was done toward actual conversion. The condition of affairs in 1629 is set forth in the Memorial written by Fray  Alonso Benavides, the custodian of the Franciscan Order in the province, published in the following year. The appeal of Benavides resulted in the sending of 30 new missionaries and the founding of many new missions from the Hopi country and the Zuni in the west to the pueblos of the Salinas in the east Substantial churches and monasteries were erected with the aid of the natives, and  much was done toward concentrating the Indians with a view of more readily effecting their Christianization. Toward the middle of the century difficulties arose between the civil officials and the missionaries, in which the Indians became involved. Finally the latter, led by a native of San Juan named Pope (q.v.), arose in revolt in August, 1680, killing 21 of the 33 missionaries, about 375 other colonists of a total of about 2,350, and destroying the missions, together with their furnishings and records. Goverror Otermin and the surviving colonists took refuge in the government buildings at Santa Fe, and withstood a siege by about 3,000 Indians for 10 days, when, after a desperate sortie, the Indians were forced back with a loss of 300 killed and 47 captured. The prisoners were hanged, and the next day (Aug. 21) the Spaniards, numbering about 1,000, commenced their long retreat to El Paso. Evidently in fear lest the Spaniards should return at any time with a strong force, many of the Pueblos abandoned their settlements and took refuge in new ones on less pregnable sites, leaving the former villages to crumble. For 12 years the Pueblos remained independent of the Spaniards, but not free from dissension among themselves or from depredations by their old enemies, the Navaho and the Apache. In 1692 Diego de Vargas reconquered the province after severely chastising many of the natives and destroying some of their towns. Of all the pueblos of New Mexico at the beginning of the revolt (at which time there were 33 active missions, while others were mere visitas) only Acoma and possibly Isleta continued to occupy their former sites after the conquest. In 1696 some of the Pueblos once more rebelled, killing several missionaries, but they surrendered after having been again severely punished by Vargas. From this time the Pueblos have been notably peaceful toward the whites, the only exception being in Jan. 1847, when the Taos Indians, instigated by some misguided Mexicans, killed Gov. Charles Bent and some other Americans and took refuge in their fortified town and mission church, which were stormed by troops with a loss to the Indians of about 150 killed outright, while a number were later tried and hanged.


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

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