The Pueblo Culture

The Pueblo peoples live in the American Southwest, and are best known as the Hopi, Zuni, Taos, and Acoma tribes. Their ancestors lived in towns, using agriculture to feed themselves.

Pueblo peoples were divided into two separate belief systems. The Eastern Pueblo, were a patrilineal clan. Each tribe had two kivas, or rooms of religious worship, though occasionally these were in two groups. They believed in five directions beginning in the east, not the four that we commonly use today. They believed that people emerged from underwater, perhaps reflecting their farming methods (which relied heavily on irrigation).

Western Pueblo people, on the other hand, lived in a matrilineal society. They often had multiple kivas for worship. They believed that their ancestors emerged from underground, reflecting their desert existence. The numbers four and seven have mystical significance.

Religious ceremonies often included offerings like maize. This corn meal would be sprinkled over the item to be blessed – people, homes, even entire towns. Corn was a valuable staple, and its use in ceremony is not surprising.

To store their harvest, the Puebloans developed pottery. Distinctive designs were carved and painted onto jars, canteens, and more. Their unique artistic style has made these vessels highly collectible. Today, many Pueblo peoples earn a living creating and selling these ornate items.

The Pueblo peoples were defined by their towns. Often, the towns, called pueblos, would be located at the top of mesas or other rocky areas.

Taos Pueblo, circa 1920. Courtesy Wikipedia.