In the 1880's the railroads were built through pueblo country. It is this date, much more than national allegiance, which marks the next change in craft history. Now white people flocked into the country, the Indian Bureau was more fully organized and schools were set up. More than this, there was a flood of new materials. Cheap cloth could be had in quantity so that weaving, after its long history, at last declined. Pottery slowly revived, some of it under the influence of white archaeologists. Building was modernized very quickly, except in a few towns where religious feeling prevented. There was an inrush of furniture, tools, and modern equipment. Villages near the railroad centers changed their whole aspect in a few years.
We ought, perhaps, to make another division, taking in the recent years when changes have been moving at a rate unknown before. Perhaps we should begin with the pottery revival about 1910 when Maria Martinez, under the inspiration of white museum officials, began making pottery for sale in adaptations of the old styles. After that, pottery specialization in some pueblos reached the dimensions of a business. Watercolor and mural painting were taken up and developed from the barest beginnings to world famous art.
Government help went hand in hand with an economic change. In 1900 the pueblos were poor. White settlers had filled up the Rio Grande Valley so that some villages had almost no land left. Others could get no water. It was a low point for the arts, for the people drifted away to find work. Population went down and one village, Pojoaque, was practically abandoned. In 1929 a bill was passed by the Congress providing that the pueblos should be given new land or paid for what they had lost. In 1932 came a new administration, particularly interested in reviving pueblo arts and helping the villages to be self-supporting. The new funds practically revolutionized pueblo farming and of course, changed housing and daily life in many places. Still, this did not mean the death of crafts. However they were often changed to make them more suitable for sale to whites. It is uneconomical for a pueblo woman to make her own pots and baskets when she can buy cheap containers at the chain store. It is highly worth while for her to make beautiful articles as a source of income. Pottery continues, therefore, but often as a specialty of certain skilled people. Weaving was revived and so was silverwork. For the first time these crafts were taught at Government schools, by native instructors.
The following pages describe the crafts as they are today, or at least, in the modern period. However, since some of them, like stone work, died out hundreds of years ago and others, like basketry, have had such ups and downs, it seems worthwhile to glance at their past also. We should, by rights, have included agriculture, most important of all crafts, limited space prohibits. The study of pueblo crops, as well as housebuilding and costume, appears in another volume. (Workaday Life of the Pueblos)
What we must include here is some note of the differences among pueblos. A historical outline can sometimes speak of "the pueblos" as distinct from Spaniards and Navaho, though even that has to be qualified in some periods. In studying art in detail, the differences stand out strongly. They were clear enough in ancient times, when the travels of a group could be traced by the kind of pottery they made. Now, with more possibilities to choose from, each pueblo often strikes out on a different line, and sometimes more than one.
On page 17 is a list of the pueblos as they are today. It is arranged according to language groups, for the pueblos speak four different languages as well as many dialects. This is not strange when we remember how many different groups migrated to the Southwest, yet the historians cannot yet fit the migrations to the present languages. Three of these tongues are faintly related, as the list shows. They belong to a possible Aztecan-Tanoan family which stretches through much of western America and far into Mexico. Yet none of them are very much like the others of that family and they must all have been isolated so long as to form characteristics quite their own. The fourth language, Keresan, is apparently unrelated to any other Indian language and is still a bone of contention among linguists.