Tano Tribe

Last Updated on July 28, 2014 by Dennis

Tano (from Taháno, the Tigua form of T’han-u-ge, the Tano name for themselves). A former group of Pueblo tribes of New Mexico, whose name has been adopted for the family designation (see Tanoan Family). In prehistoric times, according to Bandelier, the Tano formed the southern group of the Tewa, the separation of the two occurring at the ancient village of Tejeuingge Ouiping. In the early historical period the Tano habitat was southward from Santa Fe to the Galisteo basin, a distance of about 20 miles. Coronado passed through the southern part of their territory in 1541, Castañeda describing it as lying between the Quirix (Queres) province and Cicuye (Pecos), and as being almost depopulated on account of depredations by the Teya, a warlike tribe of the plains, 16 years previously. Only 3 pueblos are mentioned by Castañeda as along their route, Ximena (Galisteo), a small, strong village; the Pueblo de los Silos, large, but almost deserted; and another farther eastward, abandoned and in ruins. The last mentioned was probably the one called Coquite by Mota Padilla. In addition to these, however, there were 7 other Tano pueblos in the “snowy mountains,” toward Santa Fé.

The Tano were next visited by Espejo, who went eastwardly from the country of the Tigua, in the vicinity of the present Bernalillo, to the province of the Maguas or Magrias (probably a misprint of Tagnos, a form of the Tigua name), in a pine country without running streams, on the borders of the buffalo plains, where he heard news of the death there of Fray Juan de Santa Marfa two years before. As the seat of this friar’s missionary labors was Pecos, that pueblo was evidently included by Espejo in his Maguas province, to which he attributed the grossly exaggerated population of 40,000, in 11 pueblos. The accounts of Espejo’s journey are unsatisfactory as to directions and distances traveled, and some of the reputed narratives of his expedition are unauthentic. Bandelier regards as the Tano country Espejo’s province of Hubates, with 5 pueblos, which he visited, after returning from a western tour, by traveling 12 leagues eastward from the Queres on the Rio Grande. Thence in a day’s journey Espejo found the “Tamos” in three large villages, one of which was Pecos. This variance in names is doubtless due to guides speaking different languages. If the number of (Tano) villages given by Castañeda in 1540 is correctly given as 10, and if the number of pueblos mentioned by Espejo in 1583 as contained in his provinces of Hubates and Tamos (7, excluding Pecos) is also correct, then it would seem that the hostility of the Teyas spoken of by Castafieda in 1540 had continued in the interim, and that the Tano had been compelled to abandon three of their settlements. This, however, could not have been the case if the 10 villages (excluding Pecos) in Espejo’s province of Maguas is rightly given, as the number agrees with that of Castañeda 40 years before.

In 1630 Benavides estimated the population of the then existing 5 Tano towns at 4,000, all of whom had been baptized. The tribe was almost entirely broken up by the Pueblo revolts of 1680-96, the Indians removing mainly to the Hopi of Arizona after 1694 and the last tribal remnant in New Mexico dying from smallpox early in the 19th century 1. The Tano language is now spoken only by a few natives settled in the Tewa, Tigua, and Queres pueblos along the Rio Grande, particularly at Santo Domingo.

Following is a list of Tano pueblos so far as known:

  • Cicnega
  • Dyapige
  • Galisteo
  • Guika
  • Kayepu
  • Kipana
  • Kuakaa
  • Ojana
  • Paako
  • Pueblo Blanco
  • Pueblo Colorado
  • Pueblo de los Silos
  • Pueblo Largo
  • Pueblo Quemado (?)
  • Puerto (?)
  • San Cristóbal
  • San Lázaro
  • San Marcos
  • Sempoapi
  • Shé
  • Tuerto
  • Tungge
  • Tzemantuo
  • Tzenatay
  • Uapige



  1. Bandelier in Ritch, N. Mex., 201[]


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

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