Keresan Pueblo Indians

Keresan Pueblos. Keresan is adapted from K’eres, their own designation. Also called:

  • Biernǐ’n, Sandia name.
  • Cherechos, Onate in 1598.
  • Drinkers of the Dew, Zuni traditional name.
  • Ïng-wë-pi’-ran-di-vi-he-man, San Ildefonso Tewa name.
  • Pabiernǐ’n, Isleta name.

Keresan Pueblo Connections. These Indians constituted an independent stock having no affiliations with any other.

Keresan Pueblo Location. On the Rio Grande, in north central New Mexico, between the Rio de los Frijoles and the Rio Jemez, and on the latter stream from the pueblo of Sia to its mouth.

Keresan Pueblos

The Keresan Indians are divided dialectically into an Eastern (Queres) Group and a Western (Sitsime or Kawaiko) Group, comprising the following pueblos:

Eastern (Queres) Group

  • Cochiti, on the west bank of the Rio Grande, 27 miles southwest of Santa Fe.
  • San Felipe, on the west bank of the Rio Grande about 12 miles above Bernalillo.
  • Santa Ana, on the north bank of the Rio Jemez.
  • Santo Domingo, on the east bank of the Rio Grande about 18 miles above Bernalillo.
  • Sia, on the north bank of Jemez River about 16 miles northwest of Bernalillo.

Western (Sitsime or Kawaiko) Group:

  • Acoma, on a rock mesa or pencil, 357 feet in height, about 60 miles west of the Rio Grande, in Valencia County.
  • Laguna, on the south bank of San Jose River, in Valencia County.

In addition to the above principal towns, we have the following ancient towns and later out-villages recorded:

Former towns of Cochiti and San Felipe:

  • At the Potrero de las Vacas.
  • At Tyuonyi or Rito de los Frijoles.
  • Haatze, near the foot of the Sierra San Miguel, about Cochiti Pueblo.
  • Hanut Cochiti, about 12 miles northwest of Cochiti Pueblo.
  • Kuapa, in the Canada de Cochiti, 12 miles northwest of Cochiti Pueblo.

Former towns of Santo Domingo:

  • At the Potrero de la Canada Quemada.
  • Gipuy, two towns:
    • On the banks of the Arroyo de Galisteo, more than a mile east of the present station of Thornton.
    • West of No. 1.
  • Huashpatzena, on the Rio Grande.

Former towns of Sia:

  • Opposite Sia are the ruins of a town called Kakanatzia and south of it another called Kohasaya which may have been former Sia settlements.

Former towns of Acoma:

  • Kashkachuti, location unknown.
  • Katzimo or the Enchanted Mesa, about 3 miles northeast of the present Acoma Pueblo.
  • Kowina, on a low mesa opposite the spring at the head of Cebollita Valley, about 15 miles west of Acoma.
  • Kuchtya, location unknown.
  • Tapitsiama, on a mesa 4 or 5 miles northeast of their present pueblo.
  • Tsiama, the ruins are situated at the mouth of Canada de la Cruz, at or near the present Laguna village of Tsima.

Later villages:

  • Acomita, about 15 miles north of Acoma.
  • Heashkowa, about 2 miles southeast of Acoma.
  • Pueblito, about 15 miles north of Acoma.

Keresan Pueblo History. Like the other Pueblo peoples of New Mexico, the Keressans traced their origin to the underworld, whence they had emerged at an opening called Shipapu. According to the tradition, they after-ward drifted south slowly to the Rio Grande, where they took up their residence in the Rito de los Frijoles, or Tyuonyi, and constructed the cliff dwellings found there today excavated in the friable volcanic tufa. Long before the coming of Europeans, they had abandoned the Rito and moved farther south, separating into a number of autonomous village communities. Coronado, who visited them in 1540, reported seven of these. In 1583 Espejo encountered them and in 1598 Oñate. Missions were established in most of the principal towns early in the seventeenth century, but they were annihilated and Spanish dominion temporarily brought to an end by the great Pueblo rebellion of 1680, which was not finally quelled until about the end of the eighteenth century. Afterward, missionary work was resumed but without pronounced success, while the native population itself gradually declined in numbers. Although some of the most conservative pueblos belong to this group, they will not be able indefinitely to resist the dissolving force of American civilization in which they are immersed.

Keresan Pueblo Population. In 1760 there were 3,956 Keresans; i n 1790-93, 4,021; in 1805, 3,653; in 1850, 3,342; in 1860, 2,676; in 1871, 3,317; in 1901-5, 4,249; in 1910, 4,027; in 1930, 4,134; in 1937, 5,781.

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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