Tewa Pueblos - Settlements



At the time of Oñate's arrival at Yungue, there were unknown numbers of villages occupied by the Tewa. In 1630, Fray Alonso de Benavides is reported to have listed eight Tewa pueblos with a total population as high as six thousand. Today, hundreds of Pueblo ruins in north-central and Northwestern New Mexico have been identified by archaeologists as ancestral sites for contemporary Rio Grande Pueblos; at least sixty pueblos were abandoned in historical times. The number of these that can be directly tied to Tewa villages is uncertain because most of the sites have not been fully investigated. Between the arrival of the Spanish and up to the early 1900s population densities within the pueblos fluctuated, with periods of severe decline in numbers owing to diseases first introduced by the Spanish, warfare, and total abandonment of villages as the peace-loving Pueblos sought to escape the pressures brought on by European expansion.

Population density for the Tewa Pueblos began to rise slowly in the early 1900s and showed a steady climb after the Pueblo Lands Board settled the land claims in 1920. Between 1950 and 1964, population in all six of the Tewa Pueblos nearly doubled. Maternal and infant mortality rates were reduced through better health care. Improved nutrition (largely due to an increase in economic opportunities) and water and sewage systems also contributed to lower morbidity rates. Today housing is of several types. Some families live in the center of their pueblo in homes built originally by their ancestors as long as 350 years ago; they retain their original adobe walls but have been modernized with new roofs, windows, electricity, and water and sewage systems. These homes are built in clusters around central plazas where ceremonial activities take place. Other people live in homes built as singlefamily dwellings at some distance from the pueblo center and are made of cinder blocks covered with stucco, wood, or stabilized adobe. The kivas, or religious centers, are also located near the plazas, as are the tribal offices and Catholic church. All six New Mexico pueblos have most of the following, which may be located in the same area on a given reservation: arts and crafts store, senior citizen center, schools, recreation center, library, and health clinic.


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