The Pueblo

Native Americans Desert People


The Pueblo Cultures

The Pecos Indians, however, were unpredictable with respect to their attitudes toward Europeans. At times they actively resisted intrusion by Spanish military authorities and rejected attempts by friars to convert them to Christianity. But on other occasions, they seemingly accepted the invaders and adopted use of their tools, food and livestock. New Mexico Indians also seemed to accept the Spaniard's God and built structures for His worship.

Eventually, however, the New Mexico pueblos decided they had had enough of Spanish rule. Exasperated by continued religious persecution, they went to war. During the summer of 1680, Pecos men united with warriors from other Indian villages and staged a successful, albeit short revolt.

In these hostilities, Spanish colonists were murdered, Franciscans martyred, and many Indians were executed after being taken prisoner. During the uprising, symbols of Spanish dominance, including public buildings, homes, farms, and religious structures, were set aflame. The first Catholic Church at Pecos did not escape the flames.

The Spaniards returned in force in 1692 and reclaimed all of Pecos Pueblo land. They also supervised rebuilding the destroyed Mission de Nuestra Senora.


The Pueblo peoples live in the southern desert regions. Traditionally, the Pueblo people were labeled by the Spanish as pueblo (stone masonry town dwellers) in contrast to rancheria (brush/mud camp dwellers). However, the Pueblo people are culturally diverse, but they all farm corn, beans and squash.

Western Pueblos

The Western Pueblos live on high mesa tops in Arizona and New Mexico and practice dry farming (dependent on rain). They also perform sacred dances part of the year that seek the aid of ancient spirits. These dances are held from December through June. During the second half of the year, Western Pueblo people conduct social and thanksgiving dances.

The Western Pueblos include:

Hopi: 13 villages on 3 mesas (language: Aztec-Tanoan)

Acoma (AKO-ME): 3 villages; oldest village

Sky City (largest) is 365 feet above desert on a high mesa. (language: Keresan)

Laguna (KA-WAIK): 6 villages; (language: Keresan)

Zuni (SHE-WE-NA): 1 main village; 2-3 seasonal settlements (language: Zuni)



Eastern Pueblos

The Eastern Pueblos live in 16 towns along the Rio Grande River of New Mexico and practice irrigation farming (also corn, beans and squash), but do not impersonate ancestral spirits directly. Instead, the Eastern Pueblo conduct renewal and thanksgiving dances throughout the year.

The Eastern Pueblos primarily occupy one settlement or village. There are two languages with Keresan and Tanoan (3 dialects):


Cochiti (Ko-'chits)

San Felipe (Koots-cha)

Santa Ana (Tamaya)

Santo Domingo (Khe-wa)

Zia (Tsia)


TIWI dialect

Isleta (Tuei)

Taos (Teotho)

Sandia (Na-fiat)

Picuris (We-lai)

TEWA dialect

San Juan (O'Kang)

Santa Clara (Ka-'p-geh)

San Ildefouso (Po-'sogeh)


Tesuque (Tet-sugeh)

Pojoaque (Po-joageh)


TOWA dialect

Jemez (Wala-towa)

Both Pueblo groups produce a variety of exquisite polychrome pottery and turquoise/silver jewelry.


Pueblo Rebellion
The mysteries of Paquime
Native American Desert Peoples Index

Prehistoric Desert Peoples Index


Share this page on Facebook:

DesertUSA Newsletter -- We send articles on hiking, camping and places to explore, as well as animals, wildflower reports, plant information and much more. Sign up below or read more about the DesertUSA newsletter here. (It's Free.)

The Desert Environment
The North American Deserts
Desert Geological Terms


Enter Email:

Shop desert store



Copyright © 1996- and Digital West Media, Inc. - -