Tewa Pueblos - Economy



Subsistence and Commercial Activities. The Tewa were horticulturalists who developed hydraulic irrigation to water their principal crops of maize, beans, and squash. They also hunted deer, bison, elk, rabbit, birds, and other animals, and gathered berries, piñon nuts, wild greens, roots, and other fruits and vegetables. They made tea from several herbal plants. The introduction of new crops and animals by the Spanish enlarged their farming activities to include raising cows, pigs, chickens, chili and other spices, wheat, tomatoes, apples, pears, peaches, and other fruits. Iron kettles and pots were readily accepted for cooking, although pottery remained the main form of storage and eating vessels until the early 1920s. In the recent past, and still today, some people, make and sell pottery as their primary source of income; for other people, making pottery, jewelry and woven goods supplies supplemental income. Today, most people depend on wage labor, welfare, or Social Security or other pensions for their income.

Industrial Arts. Aboriginal crafts included pottery making, weaving, and wood carving. Painted pottery was used for storage, cooking, and eating, as well as for trade with other tribes. Hides from deer, rabbits, and other game were made into clothing and shoes; cotton was woven for clothing. After a period of decline in pottery making, it was revived as a Commercial craft in the early twentieth century. Today, needle-work, pottery, jewelry, and woven garments (such as belts and leggings) are made for sale or trade, ceremonial or other Personal use, or decoration.

Trade. An extensive trade network existed throughout the Southwest prior to Spanish contact. Items from as far away as California, central Mexico, the lower Mississippi Valley, the Great Plains to the east, and the great basin to the north appear in old Pueblo ruins. Salt was traded into some pueblos. Trading with people of the plains, the great basin, and Mexico as well as with non-Indians continued to take place well into the twentieth century. Basketry from the Apache and Papago are highly prized; feathers, shells, and beads from Mexico are highly prized for religious and decorative purposes. Trading with other tribes continues today at the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show, the Santa Fe Indian Market, and other such events held each year.

Division of Labor. Women were responsible for building and maintaining the homes until the mid-1970s. They gathered plants and insects, processed and stored the harvest, prepared the meals and made pottery. Men were responsible for planting, tending, and harvesting the crops and for hunting. They wove cotton for clothing and carved wooden utensils and ceremonial objects. Although women were primarily responsible for child care, it has regularly been noted from the earliest accounts to the present that men also engage in child care on a daily basis. Since World War II, women and men have sought employment in diverse occupations, and many have held professional positions, both on and off the reservations. Men hold most political and religious offices, but both women and men are involved in community political and Religious affairs.

Land Tenure. Land belongs to the tribe but is assigned to Pueblo members on the basis of need for farming or housing. Once a piece of land has been assigned to an individual, it may be passed to offspring for their use or traded to a pueblo member or to the tribe in exchange for another piece of land or other recompense; the tribe may reclaim it for reassignment if it goes unused. Pueblo land cannot be sold to nontribal members.


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