Pueblo Indians, a general name applied by the Spaniards, and subsequently by Americans, to several tribes of semi-civilized Indians found by the former early in the 16th centu-ry in what is now New Mexico, who lived in permanent villages (pueblos). Alvar Nuñez (Cabeça de Vaca) passed through their country between 1529 and 1538; Friar Marco de Niza visited it in 1539, and Coronado in 1540. They were finally subdued by the Spaniards, who occupied the country in 1586. They were then as advanced as they now are, raising grain, vegetables, and cotton, which they spun and wove, and manufacturing pottery. Their houses are sometimes built of stone, laid in mortar made of mud, but more generally of sun-dried brick or adobe. These buildings are generally large, of several stories, and contain many families. In some of the pueblos the whole community, amounting to from 300 to 700 souls, are domiciled in one of these huge structures. The houses are sometimes in the form of a hollow square; at other times they are on the brow of a high bluff or mountain terrace, difficult of approach. The first or lower story is invariably without openings, entrance to the house being effected by ladders.
Each upper story recedes a few feet from that below it, leaving a terrace or walk around or along the whole extent of the structure, from which ladders lead to those above. The upper stories have doors and windows, but no stairways. In most instances a single family occupies one apartment, and as its number increases another apartment is added when there is sufficient space, or it is built above and reached by a ladder. This mode was practised by these Indians three centuries ago. In every village there is at least one room large enough to contain several hundred persons, in which they hold their councils and have their dances.
These Indians constituted several distinct tribes with different languages. Some of them are now extinct; those still existing are: 1, the Zuñis, inhabiting Zuñi; 2, the Toltos, inhabiting Taos, with whom some unite the Picuries and the people of Sandia and Isleta; 3, the Teguas in San Juan, Santa Clara, Nambé, San Ildefonso, Pojuaque, and Tesuque; 4, the Queres in Cochiti, San Domingo, San Felipe, Santa Aña, Zia, Laguna, and Acoma; and 5, the Jemes, occupying a town of the same name. The population of these 19 pueblos, and some now abandoned, toward the close of the last century was given at 10,000 or 11,000. Under the Spanish government schools were maintained and religious instruction given by Franciscan and other Catholic missionaries, who began their labors before 1600, and still continue them. They were protected from hostile tribes and oppression, and supplied with cattle and sheep; but under Mexican rule they were deprived of this support, and have declined till they now number only about 7,000. They were recognized as citizens under Mexican rule, but since New Mexico became a part of the United States the matter has been left in doubt.
In 1857 Chief Justice Slough decided that the Pueblo Indians were under the treaty citizens of the United States. An act of congress passed Dec. 22, 1858, had confirmed old Spanish grants to the Pueblos. Their status as tribes has not, however, been recognized by any treaties; and though judicially declared to be citizens, the laws of New Mexico deprive them of the suffrage. They retain their own government, each village having an elected governor, and a court consisting of three old men; but executions for witchcraft have led to interference by the territorial authorities. A Baptist mission established a few years ago at Laguna led to dissensions and punishments there, which again called for interference. Under the division of tribes among the different denominations, the Pueblos, though Catholics, were assigned to the Christians, and, on their non-action, to the Presbyterians. This led to a protest from the governors of 15 pueblos at Santa Fé, Aug. 16, 1872, and to an appeal to the government made through the Catholic commissioner in 1874. Under the new agency eight schools are supported, which number 298 pupils.
The total wealth of the Pueblo Indians in 1873 was given at $535,750.