This section is from the book "Grand Canyon Of The Colorado River - John L. Stoddard's Lectures", by John L. Stoddard. Also available from Amazon: John L. Stoddard's Lectures 13 Volume Set.
In The Pueblo. .
It is an interesting fact, in the domestic economy of the Indian life led in these aerial villages, that the woman is always the complete owner of her apartment and its contents; for it is the women of the tribe who build the dwellings. Accordingly, the position of a Pueblo woman is extraordinary; and should her husband ill-treat her, she has the right and power to evict him, and to send him back to his original home. On the other hand, the man is sole possessor of the live stock of the family and of the property in the field; but when the crops are housed, the wife is at once invested with an equal share in their ownership. Pueblo children, too, always trace their descent through the mother and take her clan name instead of the father's. I noticed that at Acoma the children seemed to be obedient to their parents and respectful to age, as I have invariably found them to be in all partially civilized countries of the world; for, paradoxical as it may seem, it is only in highly civilized communities, where individualism is cultivated at the expense of strict discipline and parental control, that children become indifferent to their fathers and mothers, and insolent to their superiors in age and wisdom.
Interior Of A Pueblo Apartment.
We lingered for some time upon this citadel of Acoma, profoundly interested in the life and customs of a people that asks no aid of the United States, but is, to-day, as self-supporting as it has always been. The number of Pueblo Indians was never very large. It is probable that there were in all about thirty thousand of them at the time of the Spanish conquest, in 1540, and there are now about one-third that number scattered through more than twenty settlements. In an arid land where the greatest need is water, it is not strange that the dwellers on these rocky eyries should be called in the Indian dialect "Drinkers of the dew," for it would seem as if the dew must be their only beverage. But there are springs upon the neighboring plains whose precious liquid is brought up the steep trail daily on the heads of women, in three or five gallon jars, the carrying of which gives to the poise of the head and neck a native grace and elegance, as characteristic of Pueblo women as of the girls of Capri. Moreover, on the summit of the mesa there are, usually, hollows in the rock, partly natural, partly artificial, which serve as reservoirs to retain rain water and keep it fresh and cool.
Besides the communal apartment-house, every pueblo contains two characteristic edifices. One is as ancient as the tribe itself and thoroughly aboriginal, the other is comparatively modern and bears the imprint of the Spaniard; they are the estufa and the Roman Catholic church. The estufa has always played a prominent part in the history of these Indians. It is a semi-subterranean council hall, where matters of public business are discussed by the chiefs. The government of the Pueblos is practically the same as when the Spanish found them. Each village seems to be completely independent of its neighbors, and no member of one tribe is allowed to sell real estate to members of another, or to marry into another clan without permission from his own. Each settlement is governed by a council, the members of which, including its chief, are chosen annually. Heredity counts for nothing among them, and official positions are conferred only by pop-ular vote. Even their war-chieftains are elected and are under the control of the council.
All matters of public importance are discussed by this body in the estufa, the walls of which are usually whitewashed; but a more dismal place can hardly be imagined, not only from the dubious light which there prevails, but from the fact that it contains no furniture whatever, and no decoration. Sometimes a village will have several estufas, each being reserved for a separate clan of the tribe. In any case, whether many or- few, they are used exclusively by men, women never being allowed to enter them except to bring food to their male relatives. As we approached the Acoma estufa, it presented the appearance of a monstrous bean pot, from the opening of which a ladder rose to a height of twenty feet. This proved to be the only means of descending into an enclosure, to which we were politely but firmly de-nied admission. Peering into the aperture, however, and noting the warm, close air which came from it, I understood why the Spanish word estufa, or oven, was applied to these underground cells by their European discoverers; for neither light nor ventilation is obtainable except through the one opening, and in summer the temperature of the shallow cavern must be warm indeed.