What is the Pueblo Tribe?

Niki Foster

The Pueblo people are a large group of Native Americans living in the Southwestern United States. There is no single Pueblo tribe, but rather a large number of tribes or Pueblos that are collectively considered the Pueblo people. The group is so named because when Spanish settlers encountered them, the Native Americans of the Southwest were living in small settlements that the Spanish called villages, or pueblos.

19 Pueblo tribes live in New Mexico, 1 in Arizona, and 1 in Texas.
19 Pueblo tribes live in New Mexico, 1 in Arizona, and 1 in Texas.

There are currently 21 pueblos, 19 in New Mexico, one in Arizona, and one in Texas. The Hopi of Arizona is perhaps the best known Pueblo tribe. The Hopi language is unrelated to the other Pueblo languages and is a Uto-Aztecan language related to Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs. The Zuni is another Pueblo tribe with a unique language, Zuni, which is not only unrelated to other Pueblo languages, but is not related to any other known language.

Ysleta del Sur Pueblo, in El Paso, Texas, is one of many Tiwa-speaking Pueblos. With the exception of the Hopi and the Zuni, Pueblo people speak either a Keresan language or a Tanoan language. There are seven languages or dialects in Keresan, each spoken by and named after a different Pueblo tribe. Speakers of one of the Keresan languages can usually understand other Keresan languages. Tanoan includes Towa, Tewa, and three Tiwa languages: Taos, Pecuris, and Southern Tiwa.

Unlike many other Native American people, the Pueblo people still live in their historical territory, some even in traditional homes built centuries ago. Acoma Pueblo, also called Sky City, is believed to have been built in the 12th century. Pueblo people traditionally live in single-family dwellings made of adobe, a type of mud brick.

Pueblo people are traditionally agriculturalists, with corn, beans, tobacco, and cotton as important crops. They also traditionally supplemented their diet with hunting and gathering. The Pueblo culture is also known for its fine crafts, including pottery, jewelry, and the Kachina dolls of the Hopi. The Kachina dolls were originally used as religious pedagogical tools for children and are abounding in symbolism.

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