Today’s History Lesson

Photo of Jemez Springs, New Mexico Lemitar, New Mexico

March 15, 2020

But first a cultural sensitivity lesson that I learned yesterday. Do not take photos on Pueblos (and I assume the same is true for reservations). They are not allowed. I still feel bad that I did not know. ☹️

In the Southwestern United States, the term Pueblo refers to communities of Native Americans, both in the present and in ancient times.

The word pueblo is the Spanish word both for "town" or "village" and for "people" (as in nation). It comes from the Latin root word populus meaning "people".  The Spanish Conquistadors of the Southwest used this term to describe the communities housed in apartment structures built of stone, adobe mud, and other local material. These structures were usually multi-storied buildings surrounding an open plaza. The rooms were accessible only through ladders lowered by the inhabitants, thus protecting them from break-ins and unwanted guests. Larger pueblos were occupied by hundreds to thousands of Puebloan people. Various federally recognized tribes have traditionally resided in pueblos of such design.

Of the federally recognized Native American communities in the Southwest, those designated by the King of Spain as pueblo at the time Spain ceded territory to the United States, after the American Revolutionary War, are legally recognized as Pueblo by the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Some of the pueblos also came under jurisdiction of the United States, in its view, by its treaty with Mexico, which had briefly gained rule over territory in the Southwest ceded by Spain after Mexican independence.

There are 21 federally recognized Pueblo that are home to Pueblo peoples - 19 are in New Mexico.  Their official federal names are as follows:

Hopi people of Arizona (Uto-Aztecan)

Pueblo of Acoma, New Mexico (Keresan)

Pueblo of Cochiti, New Mexico (Keresan)

Pueblo of Jemez, New Mexico (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of Isleta, New Mexico (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of Kewa, New Mexico (Keresan)

Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico (Keresan)

Pueblo of Nambe, New Mexico (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of Ohkay Owingeh, New Mexico (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of Picuris, New Mexico (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of Pojoaque, New Mexico (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of San Felipe, New Mexico (Keresan)

Pueblo of San Ildefonso, New Mexico (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of Sandia, New Mexico (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of Santa Ana, New Mexico (Keresan)

Pueblo of Santa Clara, New Mexico (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of Taos, New Mexico (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of Tesuque, New Mexico (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of Ysleta Del Sur of Texas (Kiowa-Tanoan)

Pueblo of Zia, New Mexico (Keresan)

Zuni people of New Mexico (Zuni)

In case you are wondering, “reservation” and “Pueblo” are the same thing. It is a naming convention that distinguishes their use.

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