Subsistence and Commercial Activities. For centuries prior to the arrival of the Spaniards in the area, the Keresans depended for the most part on an agricultural economy. Among the Western Keresans, herding was a significant addition to the economy; this was less true of the Eastern Keresans. All Pueblo tribes, however, benefited from the introduction of sheep and cattle by the Spanish. Oxen, mules, and horses were also involved, but in lesser numbers in the Beginning. Of essentially equal importance were the metal-tipped agricultural implements—shovels, hoes, rakes, plows, and other tools—that enabled the Pueblo Indians to improve their relatively primitive ditch systems and expand the acreage of fields served by these ditches. New crops—a variety of grains and alfalfa—were also important additions to the agricultural scene.
In the years following World War II, there has been a steady growth in nonagricultural pursuits. Some of these involvements have taken the Keres to such Anglo-Spanish centers as Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Grants, and other communities, some at considerable distances, where wage-earning has assumed increasing significance. Another important economic development has occurred in the area of arts and crafts, or, as some observers have noted, fine arts. This has involved painting and the making of pottery, jewelry, drums, leather goods, and other creations. Potters have expanded their products to include figurines such as the famous "Story Tellers" introduced by Helen Cordero of Cochiti Pueblo and now widely made, both among other Cochiti potters and potters elsewhere. With the unexpected and disastrous seepage from the recently completed Cochiti Dam on the Rio Grande a mile north of Cochiti Pueblo, agriculture at that pueblo has virtually ceased—being replaced by wage-earning and a variety of arts and crafts.
Trade. Through the centuries, the trading of agricultural produce and other material goods—pottery, baskets, woven belts and blankets, jewelry, and other items—has served to establish relations between pueblos and also to reinforce these ties over time by repeated visits, generally reciprocal in nature.
Division of Labor. From aboriginal times until at least the post-World War II period, the division of labor between the sexes was rigidly observed. In recent decades, however, the line between male and female activities has been all but obliterated. Pottery making and decorating are no longer exclusively the bailiwick of women; jewelry making and other crafts have become essentially bisexual endeavors. Artists of both sexes have achieved wide recognition for their paintings, sculptures, and other creations.
Land Tenure. Traditions in land tenure—land and crops in the field belonging to the man, and harvested produce and the house belonging to the woman—have remained little changed. There has been, nonetheless, a gradual shift away from the old customs. In such cases, there has been a tendency to switch to Spanish-Anglo practices when the situation seems better served by such changes. Rules of Inheritance, as an integral facet of land tenure, have shown a similar tendency to switch when circumstances indicate the advisability of making changes.