Keres Pueblo Indians - Religion and Expressive Culture



Religious Beliefs. The Keresan Pueblos, both Western and Eastern, practice a blend of their native religious practices and beliefs and those of Roman Catholicism. Some Protestant sects are present, but they have remained relatively insignificant in the overall religious picture. Because of stringent requirements in terms of time, energy, and dedication, the numbers of members in the various secret societies are slowly declining rather than growing. As these societies lose members, there comes a time when one or another disappears from the ceremonial scene. Subsequently, some of its practices may be taken over by another society. If not, the tribe simply carries on without the services of the defunct society. In time, however, if there is sufficient interest, members of that tribe may go to another tribe where there is such a society and learn what is necessary to reinstate the society in their own tribe. There are still widespread beliefs, especially among the older people, in the supernaturals traditionally respected in the tribe. These are commonly revered along with the Christian beliefs acquired through contacts with the Franciscan priests who have served the Keresan Pueblos since the Spanish reconquest in the 1690s. The feast days of the various patron saints associated with the missions, the Christmas season, and the Easter season are all celebrated. Variations in the intensity of these observances are found when pueblos are compared; similarly, the degree of intensity varies among the residents of any one village—the same as one would find in mainstream communities or among families within a Community. Among the Keresans, Christian practices are often combined with dances and other activities from the native Religious life. No conflict is seen in this blending of the two religious traditions.

Religious Practitioners. As explained above, religious Duties are carried on at present much as they have been performed traditionally. There are, however, continual losses among personnel with the result that portions of the old ways have been lost to the tribe. Newcomers in the religious Structure may have sufficient training to continue; in other instances, these apprentices may not have had time to learn their roles completely. Accordingly, content is lost unless it can be made up with the aid of society members in another tribe.

Ceremonies. The ceremonial observances referred to in the previous section may occur as separate and distinct activities, or they may be combined, as noted. Outsiders are usually welcome to attend and observe such ceremonies; exceptions are in the cases of secret dances or rites, at which time the performers may be either masked or unmasked. Although the Hopi and Zuni Pueblos allow outsiders to witness aspects of such masked dances, the Keresans rarely, if ever, do. Unlike the Tewa Pueblos to the north of Santa Fe, the Keresans permit no photography, sketching, recording, or note-taking at their ceremonies even when they do allow the ceremonies to be watched. Ceremonial information is jealously guarded from the non-Indian, or nonbeliever; one can detect some erosion and loss of knowledge over the years. It is claimed that if there is knowledge of a ce"remonial, or any part of it, it cannot be termed extinct. But there are increasing instances in which the qualified personnel or necessary paraphernalia can no longer be called into play, despite the fact that the ceremony, at least in its broad outlines, can be recalled.

Arts. As is the case in essentially all cultures having a nontechnological base, the Keresans have made their material items from wood, bone, leather, clay, stone, feathers, and various fibers. For items not easily handcrafted, trading networks were established among the Keresans themselves or with other Puebloan and non-Puebloan groups. At times, trade involved travel to the Gulf of California, the Pacific coast, or the Gulf of Mexico; if not actually covering such distances, tribes living in the intervening areas often served as middlemen, facilitating the exchanges between the Keresan villages and the more distant sources of desired goods. In the years since World War II, Keresan Indians have been among the leaders from the pueblos in general in the conversion of these former utilitarian products to objects aimed at the tourist and collector trade. Many of these have been termed "objects of fine art rather than 'arts and crafts.'"

Medicine. Traditionally, illnesses and injuries were treated by medicine men or medicine societies, usually those present in the particular village. If circumstances permitted, such practitioners would be sought in neighboring pueblos. In cases of childbirth, midwives usually took care of matters; however, if the birth were difficult, the assistance of a Medicine man was sought. In recent times, since about 1950, more and more use has been made of hospitals, trained nurses, and doctors. At present, the health and health care enjoyed by the people are greatly improved over what existed prior to mid-century. Today, very few babies are born away from the hospital and modern medical care. Older people still have a tendency to consult the native medicine men for more psychological problems or what might be termed psychosomatic ailments.

Death and Afterlife. When death occurs with little or no warning, the body is prepared by the family or medicine men, and burial (in a blanket rather than a casket) takes place in a matter of hours. Time usually does not permit the summoning of the Catholic priest, and the sacristan will officiate. The priest blesses the grave when he is next in the village. The Keresan Indians, if one may generalize, vary in their beliefs between the teachings of the Catholic church or other Christian faiths and the traditional ideas of the soul going to live with the ancestors and/or becoming a kachina, in some cases returning to the pueblo in the generic form of rain-bringing clouds. Much of this has to do with the degree of acculturation attained by individual Indians and by the pueblos in which they live.

User Contributions:

1
Cindy
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Mar 11, 2016 @ 11:11 am
Helpful, this is reallgoing to help with my wring work in class :P
2
Cj
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Oct 9, 2018 @ 10:10 am
This article is smart because it tells you there religon
3
Granny
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Oct 10, 2018 @ 9:09 am
I will trap you in my house for this article and whack you with a bat
4
Joe Mama
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Feb 6, 2020 @ 6:06 am
This was a good read. Very informative, might not fail now!
5
lil smoke
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Apr 16, 2020 @ 1:13 pm
make that three nimber 9s, and two number 7s, and animal style fries.

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