The American Southwest

The Native Southwest Peoples

San Ildefonso Pottery MakerSan Ildefonso Pottery MakerPhotograph in Harvey Co. Publication, 1926, PICT 2001-022, Indian Detours Photograph Album, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New MexicoSan Ildefonso Pottery MakerPhotograph in Harvey Co. Publication, 1926, PICT 2001-022, Indian Detours Photograph Album, Center for Southwest Research, University Libraries, University of New Mexico

Native peoples have been living in the southwestern part of the United States for thousands of years. Numerous tribes live in this area, the most prominent of which are the Apache, Hopi, Navajo, and the nineteen Pueblos of New Mexico (Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Santo Domingo, Laguna, Nambe, Ohkay Owingeh, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Taos, Tesuque, Zia, and Zuni). Agriculture has always been an important part of Southwest Native life ever since corn was introduced in 1500 B.C. Aside from the Apache, who are historically nomadic, many tribes were sedentary due to their agricultural lifestyle. The Southwest tribes are extremely diverse in language, tradition, history, and belief.

European Contact

The Spanish arrived in the Southwest and made contact with the various tribes throughout the mid-1500s. The culture clash and harsh demands of the Spanish led to the Pueblo Indian Revolt of 1680. The Pueblos were able to force the Spaniards out of the region for twelve years until 1692. The Spanish learned their lesson from the Pueblo Revolt and after returning to the area they no longer sought tribute from the Pueblo Indians and recognized Pueblo land rights. Other tribes in the region were not as lucky and were relocated through the Indian Removal Act of 1830 by the U.S. government.

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