In 1823 Mexico, including our Southwest, won independence from Spain. From then until the railroads came in the 1880's there was a period of confusion. During the first part of it, the pueblos were under Mexico (1823-1848), and during the last under the United States. Neither country had leisure to give them much attention. A few officials, soldiers, trappers, and miners were the only whites they saw. Finally a few Government schools were opened but their effects were not felt until later. This was principally a time of movement and of contact with other Indians. During Spanish rule, no white hod been allowed to live inside a pueblo or within some miles of it. Now Spanish settlers moved into the fertile lands, farming on the same scale as the pueblos themselves. At this time, much more than in the previous period, pueblo people learned Spanish, and adopted some of the European "peasant customs to be seen later. They soon acquired the horses and "burros" which earlier had been forbidden by the Spaniards, and they made an interesting combination by threshing wheat with horses as the Spaniards did but winnowing it with their native baskets.

Taos Pueblo

Plate 1-2. Taos Pueblo early in the Modern Period.

Now that they had horses, they traveled more than ever. Many of them, even from as far west as the Hopi, went yearly to the Plains after buffalo. The easternmost ones, like Pecos and Taos, had constant communication with the "buffalo" Indians. Later, in the twentieth century, their grandchildren will be able to show fringed leggings, fringed shirts, and war bonnets which have been family property for generations.

At the same time the Navaho and Apache roved unchecked. There was constant fighting between them and the pueblo people, but also much neighborliness and intermarriage. Somehow, now or earlier, the combined peoples developed their peculiar moccasin, unique in the United States. Sometime after 1850 it seems that both the Navaho and the pueblos learned silver work. Some students now think that the teaching was from American Whites, though the material and many designs were from Mexico. Finally the wandering tribes were subdued by the whites (Navaho 1864, Apache in the 1880's). From this time begins the closer contact of the pueblos with the American Government.