In the former period, the influence from the south acted mostly at a distance. New people now arrived with their new ways and the life of the country was slowly revolutionized. The newcomers, probably from the mountainous country south of the Mogollon Rim, intermarried peacefully with the Basketmakers. The two groups, whose various ruins dot the Four Corners country, are often spoken of all together by the Navaho name Anasazi, Ancient People. They were the ancestors of the modern pueblos.
In the crowded centuries after the new arrivals, houses changed from a primitive "pit house" to clusters of rectangular rooms built of stones or poles plastered with mud. The most advanced of them were great D shaped apartment houses, like Pueblo Bonito, whose ruins are famous today. Around them were their gardens of squash and of varicolored corn, and a greater profusion of beans. A new crop, cotton, appeared, no doubt brought from the south, and the diggers surmise that there must have been some loom weaving. The art of pottery moved on to beautiful vessels, decorated in black. All the arts improved except basketry, which was being crowded out by the new inventions.
These two hundred years mark the flowering time of the pueblos. The beauties of architecture, pottery, and weaving which had appeared only here and there spread over all pueblo country. The area covered was smaller than it had been and the villages larger. In fact, they were as near to cities as the United States Indians ever came, and "cities" the Spaniards later called them. They all made beautiful pottery and some decorated it in black, white, and red. They wove cotton fabrics on a vertical loom, such as is used today, and they developed intricate weaves. They did good work in skin and stone and jewelry and they traded their goods far and wide. Many a backload reached them in turn from southern Arizona, from the Colorado River, and even from Mexico.
Drought put an end to the great period. For twenty-two years (1276-1298) there was almost no rain in the Southwest. The gardens, watered mostly by summer storms, withered, and the magnificent dwellings had to be abandoned. Pueblo people shifted south and east, seeking streams and springs and they resettled in locations very near those of today. The ruins of their hastily built houses show no such care and beauty as in the great period. Still they went on with crafts. The Hopi found a new method of baking pottery. The Zuni and others used a glaze. The loom blocks in the villages show how industriously they wove. Perhaps they might have worked up to a new peak of development but they were not left alone. New immigrants came in, and this time, not friendly teachers from the south. These were hunters and wanderers from the north, the Navajo, Apache, Paiute, and Walapai. Now it became the pueblos' turn to teach. The Navajo, particularly, camped near them, sometimes fighting with them but also intermarrying and learning eagerly. Today, many Navaho crafts and ceremonies are a reflection from the pueblos, though imbued with distinctly Navaho characteristics.
In 1598 a Spanish governor reached the Rio Grande with horses, cattle, craftsmen, and colonists, and settled down to rule the country for Spain. Previous explorations, spectacular in white history, had made little difference to pueblo life. This brought a change to every department of it, from religion to pottery. The pueblos were not all equally affected and desert villages like the Hopi kept many of their ancient forms to the twentieth century. The others, though oppressed, did much learning in new arts, while some of their older arts declined. On the side of decline, we must put the great art of pottery, which had moved upward in such a long swing. Now pots were produced in quantity for Spanish use. They came to be carelessly made and were often mere kitchen articles.
On the side of learning, agriculture came first. Up to now the Indian crops had been corn, beans and squash but the Spaniards brought wheat, fruit and several new vegetables. Pueblo people worked at the ranches and saw how wheat was irrigated, threshed with horses, and made into bread. "Officially" they themselves were not allowed to have horses, so probably they bought much of their wheat, or at least paid to have it threshed. Still they stored up the knowledge for a future time. They began to raise peaches, cabbages and peppers so that their food possibilities were practically doubled.
Housebuilding took new ideas also. The Spaniards came from adobe villages where the houses of common people were not much more luxurious than those of the pueblos. Still, they had chimneys, stairs, and "beehive" ovens. It may have been from them that the pueblos learned at least to make the last two. Perhaps, too, they learned about gypsum for whitewash and sel-enite for windows. Spanish missions taught knitting and embroidery. Spanish colonists brought sheep, wool carding and new dyes. Pueblos weaving became colorful and prolific, and pueblo costume took on the magnificent form it has today.