Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Description of the Pueblo Tribes


The word pueblo in Spanish means simply “town;” but in American ethnography, it has obtained a special signification from the aboriginal structures so-called, whose remains are found in profusion in Arizona and the neighboring localities over an area about 350 miles from east to west and 300 miles from
 north to south. These are buildings several stories in height, either of stone or of adobes, communal in character, that is, intended to accommodate a whole gens or clan, and usually with certain peculiarities of finish and plan. The adobes are generally large, some four feet long by two feet wide, and were often made upon the wall itself, the clay or gravel being carried in a moist state in baskets of this size and deposited upon the wall till the mass dried. When stones are employed, they are held together by a mud mortar. The most celebrated of these adobe edifices are perhaps the Casas Grandes in the valley of the San Miguel river, in northern Chihuahua. They have frequently been described and do not differ except in size from hundreds of other ruins in the Gila basin.
In connection with the pueblos stand the “cliff-houses,” structures of stones usually carefully squared and laid in mortar, found in great numbers and over an area of wide extent in the deep gorges or cañons of the Colorado, the Gila and the upper Rio Grande, and their numberless affluents. They are perched upon the ledges of the precipices, which often descend almost perpendicularly for thousands of feet, and access to many of them could have been only by ladders or ropes. Prominent points are frequently surmounted by round or square stone towers, evidently for purposes of observation. The disposition
 of the cliff houses renders it certain that their plans and positions were selected with a view to make them safe retreats from marauding enemies.
As descriptions of these interesting ruins have often been introduced to support vague and extraordinary theories concerning ancient America, I would emphatically say there is nothing in any of the remains of the pueblos, or the cliff houses, or any other antiquities in that portion of our continent, which compels us to seek other constructors for them than the ancestors of the various tribes which were found on the spot by the Spaniards in the sixteenth century, and by the armies of the United States in the middle of the nineteenth. This opinion is in accordance with history, with the traditions of the tribes themselves, and with the condition of culture in which they were found. When, in 1735, Pedro de Ainza made an expedition from Santa Fé against the Navajos, he discovered tribes dwelling in stone houses “built within the rocks,” and guarded by watchtowers of stone. The Apaches still remember driving these cliff-dwellers from their homes, and one of the Apache gentes is yet named from them “stone-house people.” As for the pueblos, seven or eight of them are occupied to-day by the same people who built them, and whose homes they have been for many centuries.

It is a significant fact that these people do not all belong to the same stock. On the contrary, the “Pueblo Indians” are members of a number of wholly disconnected stems. This proves that the Pueblo civilization is not due to any one unusually gifted lineage, but was a local product, developed in independent tribes by the natural facilities offered by the locality. It is a spontaneous production of the soil, climate, and conditions, which were unusually favorable to agricultural and sedentary occupations, and prompted various tribes to adopt them.
Of these different peoples, those of the Moqui Pueblo belonged to the Shoshonee branch of the Uto-Aztecan stock, and is the only existing Pueblo which is peopled by that widespread stem. We have good reason to believe, however, that the Pimas of the Sonoran Group of the same stock once occupied a number of adobe Pueblos, and quite likely were the constructors of the Casas Grandes.
The natives of the remaining Pueblos belong to three independent stocks, known as the Kera, the Tehua, and the Zuñi families. No relationship has been discovered between either of these and any tribe outside the territory I have referred to.
The culture of the Pueblos, both ancient and modern, bears every mark of local and independent growth. A knowledge of metals, other than to a
 limited extent for ornament, is nowhere evident. Tillage of the fields in a rude manner was the main source of the food supply. Pottery of fine temper and in symmetrical forms was manufactured by the women. That they had any other domestic animal than a fowl, and sometimes a dog, has not been shown. Mats and clothing were woven of the fibres of bark and grass, and the culture of cotton was at one time common, especially among the Moquis and Pimas. The arts of weaving feathers and working shells into decorative objects are not yet lost. Apart from the development of the art of architecture, there was little in the culture of the Pueblo tribes to lift them above the level of the Algonkins. The acequias, or irrigation trenches, about which much has been written, were a necessity of their climate, and were in use among their southern neighbors in Sonora, and the Navajos.
KERA STOCK.Pueblos of Kera or Queres, Cochiti, Laguna, Acoma, Silla, etc., on the upper Rio Grande, Jemez and San Juan rivers.
TEHUA STOCK.Jemez, on the Jemez river.
Piros, on Rio Grande and in Chihuahua.
Tanos, near Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Taos, at Taos Pueblo.
Tehuas, at Tesuque and neighboring Pueblos.
ZUÑI STOCK.At Zuñi Pueblo.