Jemez Indians

Jemez Indians. Corrupted from Ha’-mish or Hae’-mish, the Keresan name of the pueblo. Also spelled Amayes, Ameias, Amejes, Emeges, Gemes, etc. Also called:

  • Maí-dĕc-kǐž-ne, Navaho name, meaning “wolf neck.”
  • Tu’-wa, own name of pueblo.
  • Uala-to-hua or Walatoa, own name of pueblo, meaning “village of the bear.”
  • Wöng’-ge, Santa Clara and Ildefonso name, meaning “Navaho place.”

Connections. With the now extinct Pecos, the Jemez constituted a distinct group of the Tanoan linguistic family now a part of the Kiowa-Tanoan stock.

Location. On the north bank of Jemez River, about 20 miles north-west of Bernalillo.

Jemez Pueblos

The following names of pueblos and villages have been recorded as formerly occupied by the Jemez but the list may contain some duplication:

  • Amushungkwa Pueblo, on a mesa west of the Hot Springs, about 12 miles north of Jemez pueblo.
  • Anyukwinu Pueblo, north of Jemez pueblo.
  • Astialakwa Pueblo, on the summit of a mesa that separates San Diego and Guadalupe Canyons at their mouths.
  • Bulitzequa Pueblo, exact site unknown.
  • Catróo Pueblo, site not identified.
  • Ceca Pueblo, not identified.
  • Guatitruti Pueblo, not identified.
  • Guayoguia Pueblo, not identified.
  • Gyusiwa Pueblo, one-half mile north of Jemez Hot Springs, on a slope descending to the river from the east in Sandoval County.
  • Hanakwa Pueblo, not identified.
  • Kiashita Pueblo, in Guadalupe Canyon, north of Jemez pueblo.
  • Kiatsukwa Pueblo, not identified.
  • Mecastria Pueblo, not identified.
  • Nokyuntseleta Pueblo, not identified.
  • Nonyishagi Pueblo, not identified.
  • Ostyalakwa Pueblo, not identified.
  • Patoqua Pueblo, on a ledge of the mesa which separates Guadalupe and San Diego Canyons, 6 miles north of Jemez pueblo.
  • Pebulikwa Pueblo, not identified.
  • Pekwiligii Pueblo, not identified.
  • Potre Pueblo, not identified.
  • Seshukwa Pueblo, not identified.
  • Setokwa, about 2 miles south of Jemez pueblo.
  • Towakwa Pueblo, not identified.
  • Trea Pueblo, not identified.
  • Tyajuindena Pueblo, not identified.
  • Uahatzae Pueblo, not identified.
  • Wabakwa Pueblo, on a mesa north of Jemez pueblo.
  • Yjar Pueblo, not identified.
  • Zolatungzezhii Pueblo, not identified.

Jemez History

The Jemez came from the north, according to tradition, settling in the valleys of the upper tributaries of the Jemez River and at last in the sandy valley of the Jemez proper. Castaneda, the chronicler of Coronado’s expedition, mentions seven towns belonging to the Jemez tribe besides three in the region of Jemez Hot Springs. After they had been missionized they were induced to abandon their towns by degrees until about 1622 they became concentrated into the pueblos of Gyusiwa and probably Astialakwa. Both pueblos contained chapels, probably dating from 1618, but before the Pueblo revolt of 1680 Astialakwa was abandoned and another pueblo, probably Patoqua, established. About the middle of the seventeenth century, in conjunction with the Navaho, the Jemez twice plotted insurrection against the Spaniards. After the insurrection of 1680 the Jemez were attacked by Spanish forces led successively by Otermin, Cruzate, and Vargas, the last of whom stormed the mesa in July 1694, killed 84 Indians, and after destroying Patoqua and two other pueblos, returned to Santa Fé with 361 prisoners and a large quantity of stores. Gyusiwa was the only Jemez pueblo reoccupied, but in 1696 there was a second revolt and the Jemez finally fled to the Navaho country, where they remained for a considerable time before returning to their former home. Then they built their present village, called by them Walatoa, “Village of the Bear.” In 1728, 108 of the inhabitants died of pestilence. In 1782 Jemez was made a visita of the mission of Sia. In 1838 they were joined by the remnant of their relatives, the Pecos Indians from the upper Rio Pecos. Their subsequent history has been uneventful.

Jemez Population. Mooney (1928) estimates the Jemez population at 2,500 in 1680. In 1890 it was 428; in 1904, 498, including the remnant of Pecos Indians; in 1910, 499. In 1930 the entire Tanoan stock numbered 3,412. In 1937 the Jemez Indians numbered 648.


Sandoval County NM,

Swanton, John R. The Indian Tribes of North America. Bureau of American Ethnology, Bulletin 145. Washington DC: US Government Printing Office. 1953.

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