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(See Vol. II, p. 1141.) The Pueblo Indians are believed to have established themselves west of the Pecos River in Northern Mexico and in what are now the States of New Mexico and Arizona about 1500 years ago; they are believed to have reached their largest development about 600 years ago, at which time they had cities, a few of them, of as much as 25,000 population. After about 1500 A.D. they suffered a great decline and by the time the Spanjards arrived in 1540 A.D. the Pueblo civilization was only a shadow of its former self. This decline is mystifying; it even appears that the climate may have changed because in the great Pajarito Plateau and in the region about the Pueblo ruin called Gran Quivera southeast of the Abo Pass, the land which once sustained large and prosperous populations is now so arid that even goats find little to live on; it may be that a ƒailure of springs, wells, and underground streams broke down the irrigation systems; it may be that the Pueblos were swept by plagues; it may be that they were destroyed from the east by the Apaches, and from the west by the Navajos.
The various peoples had names of their own, and a number of languages (there still are four), but the Spaniards gave them the name Pueblo, or towndwellers, because unlike other Indians they lived in stone houses (sometimes three or four stories high) in towns and cities. In Arizona, though they are the same people as in New Mexico, they are called Hopi (meaning "peace"), and once were called Moquis. Many centuries before the Spaniards (who taught them the use of adobe, and brought in horses) the Pueblos worked in silver, turquoise, and obsidian, wove cloth, did leather work, constructed canals of stone, paved streets erected large dwellings, and knew how to glaze potteries. Most of the arts which the Navajos now practice they learned from the Pueblos. The Pueblos have an importance for historians of Indians out of proportion to their size because they are one of the links in a long chain.
It is thought that Mongolian peoples edged eastward into what is now Alaska about 20,000 years ago; that they pushed their slowly advancing frontier down the Pacific slope until they reached what is now Guatamala and Yucatan; and that they reached the apogee of their civilization in those two countries with the Mayas' civilization. As the historians (both Indian and Whites) have been able to piece out the subsequent history, it appears that from the Mayas they sent out waves west and south, the Aztecs, Peruvians, etc., and that they sent one great wave into Mexico, wilere, some believe, the Mehicans surpassed the Mayas, their cultural for bears. From the latter came a mave northward, still preserving the original Maya culture. These latter were the Pueblos. It also is believed that from the latter went other lvaves into the plains to become Sioux, Comanche, etc., into the Worth to become the Athapascans, and into the East to become the Irocquois, Mohawks, etc (These latter had been on the Atlantie coast probable scarcely more than two centuries before Columbus arrived.)
If this synopsis of Indian history be sound, the Whole of it has had an extraordinary unity; and the place of the Pueblos in it was a conspicuous one. In New Mexico alone are the ruins of some 1500 of their towns. There are some eleven or twelve still-existing Pueblos—the number is uncertain because two or three are on the border-line of extinction (as at Santa Ana).
Each of the Pueblos owns a rather large tract of land. It owned this land communistically before the Spaniards came; the Spanish government confirmed them in their ownership; the Mexican Government did likewise; our own Government did the same after the Mexican War. A Pueblo land-holding is therefore not a reservation but is the property of the Pueblo; the deed, as just said, is vested in the Pueblo, which owns it in trust for its people, and gives the latter use of it by a system of life-leases.
A few crooks and thieves stole Pueblo Indian lands in "the wicked period" of the Indian Bureau ("a century of dishonor"), but that has been stopped, and the Pueblos have their tracts in permanent security. Each Pueblo is independent of the others; each has its own government; its own customs, and usually a man from one Pueblo cannot understand the language of another. Laguna and Santo Domingo are the largest with populations of l000 to 1200; Zuni and Sandia are among the smallest with from 300 to 400. Pueblo leaders meet in occasional conferences, but there is no Pueblo federation. White men are amazed by the apparent tack of interest each Pueblo feels in the others, but that indifference is more apparent than real, and has Indian reasons. Marriages between Pueblos are more common than not. The differences from Pueblo to Pueblo are, however, real, and are deep; any statement generalizing about the whole of them is best mistrusted.
Zuni is a Pueblo some seventv miles south of Gallup, a trading center for Pueblo and Navajo peoples some six or seven miles east of the Arizona line. Zuni is the name of the Pueblo itself, of the people living in it (some 700 or so), and of its tract of land. It stands far down in a wild and unpopulated country; east of it some sixty-five or seventy-five miles lies the famous and ancient Pueblo of Acoma; (on top its 300 fools rock) some forty miles beyond Acoma lies the Pueblo of Laguna, a station on the Santa Fe Railway. Zuni is of moderate size; its people raise sheep; and thev produce a large quantity of turquoise and silver work, for almost every man and woman (as in other Pueblos) is a natural artist.
It is neither largte, nor wealth) nor historical, yet for nearly a half century it m as once almost the only Pueblo known to the East, and the name Zuni vwas almost a synonym for the Pueblos. This was because F. H. Cushing went there to live the first white man to remain for years in any Pueblo, and because his books and reports were the first works on the Pueblos to be widely read—the (now) more midely-read books by Bandelier, Lummis, Leo Crane, Hewitt, Hodge, etc., came later. Cushing made in his books the mistake which was to be repeated until it plagued the whole popular literature about Indians w hen he translated Pueblo terms into theological English words. The Pueblo Indians have no theology because they have no religion. To translate the word katcina by the word "god" is false to the facts, and is misleading to the mind. It is necessary to carry the Indian terms as they stand over into English, and then to be as patient as possible while puzzling out what the Pueblo Indians mean by them.
In general the Pueblos (and despite many differences) agree on a world-view somewhat as follows: There is shipapu, a vast Underworld. Indians of every kind abode in it until, for reasons over which they had no control, it was necessary for them to climb out into this Upperworld for a time. According to them there is no universe, or cosmos, but only a general vastness; shipapu, their own place of origin, has a place of its own in that vastness; the white peoples had their place of origin in another world, somewhere in the sky (or so Whites say), but it has never had any connection with shipapu; the latter is exclusively Indian. In shipapu are somewhats which are called katcinas—they are not gods, or goddesses, or angels, or elementals; they are katcinas! It is an untranslateable word because no other peoples have anything even remotely similar to a katcina, and hence can have no word into which it can be translatedA katcina is evidently huge in size; each one has a shape of its own, and the "old men" know what that shape is—one of them, apparently, is somewhat like a huge eagle.
In the Upperworld are many kinds of things and events; there are crops, rains, sunshine, seasons, birth and death, disease and healing, etc. Each class or kind is directly controlled (or caused) by one katcina Can men in any way affect or control a katcina? The Pueblos believe that they can, and that they do so by using certain ceremonies.
The cacique is the man in each Pueblo who knows what these ceremonies are, exactly how they are to be enacted, when and by whom, and how they will set a katcina in action, or otherwise control it. These "ceremonies" therefore are not true ceremonies, but are deeds, are a means to get a thing done; therefore neither are thev "dances," or acted-out ceremonies of worship. A Pueblo farmer uses a plow to prepare the soil for planting; in the sameway and in the same spirit, he uses a "ceremony," to cause a certain katctna to make it rain. As suggested above in the article on Zeus, Nature, and the Ancient Mysteries, the nearest to such a ceremony any \\'hite people has come is in the early Greek public religious cult in which a ceremony also was a means to do a thing, a dromenon. One could do worse than use the Greek dromena instead of the misleading English word "ceremonies."
The Zuni people possibly know and use more of these dromena than any other Pueblo people, and use them more frequently. The designs on their "ceremonial" dress, in their art, in their pictures are not symbols, but are details of dromena; nor do they in any real sense have initiation ceremonies, or meet in lodges, or have anything similar to the Raising, etc. Nothing could be less similar to Masonic rites than Zuni dromena.
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Last modified: March 22, 2014