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Dances of the Tewa Pueblo Indians

Expressions of New Life, Second Edition

Jill D. Sweet

Great changes have swept the world of the Tewa Indian peoples of New Mexico since 1985, when this volume first appeared, including changes in relationships between Indian communities and the anthropologists who wish to study them. Returning to her classic work, anthropologist Jill D. Sweet revisits the ideas and the people who first inspired her love of the Tewa Pueblo dances. The Tewa have become increasingly sophisticated in managing tourism, including the new casinos, to ensure that it contributes to the persistence and even the revitalization of ancient ritual practices.

This expanded edition reflects these changes by featuring the voices of Tewa dancers, composers, and others to explain the significance of dance to their understanding of Tewa identity and community. The author frames their words with her own poignant reflections on more than twenty years of study and friendship with these creative and enduring people.

2004. 136 pp., 33 black-and-white and color illustrations, references, index, 7 x 10

Contributors: Jill D. Sweet

Download an excerpt.

Dances of the Tewa Pueblo Indians … brings to life the experience of attending the Tewa dance, awakening our sense of sight, smell, and sound as well as intensifying our understanding of the movements and patterns.”
Dr. Judith Chazin-Benahum, Journal of Anthropological Research Vol. 41 (Fall 1985)

“This publication goes well beyond its stated purpose as an introduction for the generalist and traveler. It includes new information and insights which contribute to a fuller understanding of Tewa life.”
Dr. Donald Brown, American Indian Quarterly, Vol. XII, no. 4 1988

“The text and photos of Dances of the Tewa Pueblo Indians remain absorbing and inspiring….[T]he Preface to the second edition and, even more importantly, [the] Epilogue should be required reading for every visitor to the sacred dances of the region.”
Barbara Riley, Southwest Book Views Vol. 4, no. 1 (Winter 2005)

“[This] is a lavishly illustrated volume that offers a fine introduction to ceremonial and social dances of the Tewa speaking pueblos of the northern Rio Grande Valley in New Mexico.”
Claire R. Farrer, Western Folklore Vol. XLV (October 1986)

“This excellent short essay answers most of the commonly asked questions concerning the whats and whys of Tewa (and, by extension, other Pueblo) sacred dances. Visitor etiquette, the difference between village ceremonies and exhibition dances, Tewa and tourist perceptions of each other-it is all here in readable form.”
James S. Griffith, Books of the Southwest, no. 325 (December 1985)

“Sweet captures the depth and the complexity of the world of dance, illuminating in pioneering ways the key dynamics between ritual and theatrical or tourist-oriented performances. This excellent work makes the teaching and learning of dance traditions and ritual practices among Native Americans a pleasure.”
Zoila Mendoza, University of California, Davis


  1. Seekers of Life
  2. Tewa Village Rituals
  3. Theatrical Productions
  4. Visitors in the Tewa World
  5. Keeping the Rituals Alive

There are no working papers for this book at the present time.