Pueblo

Introduction

Pueblo, name given by the Spanish to the sedentary Native Americans who lived in stone or adobe communal houses in what is now the SW United States. The term pueblo is also used for the villages occupied by the Pueblo. The prehistoric Ancestral Pueblo settlements, also known as the Anasazi and Mogollon cultures, extended southward from S Utah and S Colorado into Arizona, New Mexico, and adjacent territory in Mexico. The transition from Archaic (see Americas, antiquity and prehistory of the) hunters and gatherers to sedentary agricultural populations occurred around the 1st cent. A.D., when corn, squash, and beans were widely adopted; the trio of foods is still used by the Pueblo. Although agriculture provided the bulk of the diet for these early populations, hunting and gathering was an important source of additional foodstuffs. Pottery manufacture began about A.D. 400 and was used for cooking and water storage. Clothing was woven from cotton, grown in warmer areas, and yucca fiber. Early houses among the Ancestral Pueblo peoples were pit houses, which were replaced by adobe and stone surface dwellings throughout the region by the end of the first millennium A.D.

Villages were variable in size and architectural content, but most included circular, often subterranean structures known as kivas (apparently a derivation of the pit house) and storage pits for grains. Prior to the 14th and 15th cent., densely settled villages were more the exception than the rule. Large pueblos were found at Chaco Canyon, dating to the 11th and early 12th cent., and at Mesa Verde, where multistoried cliff houses were inhabited in the 13th and 14th cent.; a great lunar observatory was built at Chimney Rock, S Colo., in the 11th cent. Changing climatic conditions forced the abandonment of much of the region by the early 14th cent., with populations migrating to their present-day locations in the Rio Grande valley and a few other isolated areas (e.g., the Hopi mesas).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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