Native American Facts For Kids was written for young people learning about the Pueblo Indian
tribe for school or home-schooling reports. We encourage students
and teachers to visit our Pueblo language and
pages for in-depth information
about the tribe, but here are our answers to the questions we are most often asked by children, with
Pueblo pictures and links we believe are suitable for all ages.
How do you pronounce the word "Pueblo"? What does it mean? Pueblo is pronounced "PWAY-bloh." This just means "town" or "village" in Spanish, and was originally used to refer to the Indian cliff dwellings and
large adobe house complexes of the Southwestern Indian tribes. Today, the word "Pueblo" (with a capital P) is also used to refer to these tribes
themselves. There are many different Pueblos and each has its own name, including
the Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Santo Domingo, San Ildefonso,
San Juan, Santa Clara, Taos, Tesuque, Ysleta del Sur, Zia, and Zuni. The Hopi
are also Pueblo people, but they are culturally more distinct from the others, have a separate government, and are usually considered as a
Where do the Pueblo Indians live?
The Pueblo are natives of the Southwest deserts, particularly New Mexico.
(The Hopi live in Arizona, while the Ysleta del Sur Tigua live in
Texas.) Unlike many Native American tribes, the Pueblo Indians were never
forced to leave their homelands and are still living there today.
How is the Pueblo Indian nation organized?
The nineteen Pueblos of New Mexico belong to a confederation called the All Indian Pueblo Council, which makes joint political decisions
on behalf of all of them. Each Pueblo also has its own local government, with laws, police, and
services just like a small country. However, the Pueblos are also US citizens and must obey American law.
In the past, the Pueblo Indians had a theocratic government. That means that the head priest or cacique (pronounced kah-seek)
was also the town chief. Today, each Pueblo still has its own cacique, but he is primarily a religious leader. Most Pueblos are now led by an elected
governor and tribal council.
What language do the Pueblo Indians speak?
Almost all Pueblo people speak English today, but most of them also speak one of the native Pueblo languages.
Though the Pueblo Indians all have closely related cultures, they do not all speak the same language. The
Hopi language is a Uto-Aztecan language, distantly related to the language of the Aztecs.
The Zuni language is a language isolate, not related to any other living language.
Seven of the remaining Pueblos speak Keresan languages, and the other twelve speak
Tanoan languages related to Kiowa. Speakers of these four language groups cannot
understand each other at all. In the past, they needed to use interpreters to communicate with each other. Today, they use English for that purpose.
All four of these language groups are traditionally oral languages, which means they were not written down. Caciques and elders in some Keres and
Tanoan-speaking Pueblos don't want their languages to be written down at all, while other Pueblos encourage children to read and write their
traditional languages today. If you'd like to know an easy Pueblo word, "k'ema" (pronounced k-ay-mah) means "friend" in San Juan Tewa (one of the
Tanoan languages from a Pueblo that has published a written dictionary.)
What was Pueblo culture like in the past? What is it like now?
Here is the homepage of the All Indian Pueblo Council.
On their site you can find information about the Pueblo people in the past and today.
How do Pueblo Indian children live, and what did they do in the past?
They do the same things all children do--play with each other, go to school and help around the house.
Many Pueblo children like to go hunting and fishing with their fathers. In the past, Indian kids had more
chores and less time to play in their daily lives, just like colonial children. But they did have
dolls, toys, and games to play.
A Pueblo mother traditionally carried a young child in a
on her back--a custom which many American parents have
What were men and women's roles in the Pueblo tribe?
Generally, Pueblo women were in charge of the home and family. Pueblo men were in charge of politics, agriculture and war.
Women played important roles in Pueblo religion and clan governance, but caciques and warriors were traditionally always men.
Both genders took part in storytelling, music and artwork, and traditional medicine.
What were Pueblo homes like in the past?
Pueblo people lived in adobe houses known as pueblos, which are multi-story house complexes made of adobe (clay and straw baked
into hard bricks) and stone. Each adobe unit was home to one family, like a modern apartment. Pueblo people used ladders to reach the upstairs
apartments. A Pueblo adobe house can contain dozens of units and was often home to an entire extended clan.
Here are some pictures of Pueblo adobe homes
and other Indian houses.
Unlike most old-fashioned Indian shelters, traditional Pueblo houses are still used by many people today.
In fact, some Pueblo people have been living in the same adobe house complex,
such as Sky City, for dozens of generations. Other Pueblo families live in modern houses or apartment buildings, just like you.
What were Pueblo clothes like? Did the Pueblos wear feather headdresses and face paint?
Originally, Pueblo men didn't wear much clothing-- only breechcloths or short kilts.
Pueblo women wore knee-length cotton dresses called mantas. A manta fastened at a woman's right shoulder, leaving her left shoulder bare. Missionaries
didn't think this dress style was modest enough, so in the 1900's many Pueblo women started wearing blouses or shifts underneath their mantas. This style is still
in use today. Men and women both wore deerskin moccasins on their feet.
For dances and special occasions, women painted their moccasins white and wrapped white strips of deerskin called puttee around their shins as leggings.
Here is a site with photographs of Pueblo clothing styles,
and some photos and links
about Indian clothing in general.
The Pueblos did not traditionally wear headdresses like the Sioux.
Pueblo men usually wore cloth headbands tied around their foreheads instead. For special ceremonies, Pueblo dancers sometimes wore painted masks or
crowns of feathers.
Both men and women wore their hair gathered into a figure-eight shaped bun called a chongo, but some Pueblo men preferred to cut their
hair to shoulder length. Except for certain religious ceremonies, the Pueblos didn't paint their faces
or bodies. But they are famous for their beautiful silver and turquoise ornaments, particularly their elaborate necklaces.
Today, many Pueblo people still wear moccasins or mantas, but they
wear modern clothes like jeans instead of breechcloths...
and they only wear puttee or kilts on special occasions like a dance.
What was Pueblo transportation like in the days before cars? Did they paddle canoes?
No--the Pueblo Indians weren't coastal people, and rarely traveled by river. Originally they just walked.
There were no horses in North America until colonists brought them over from Europe, so the Pueblos used dogs pulling
travois (a kind of drag sled) to help them carry heavy loads.
Here's a website with travois pictures.
Once Europeans brought horses to America, the Pueblo Indians
could travel more quickly than before.
What was Pueblo food like in the days before supermarkets?
The Pueblo Indians were expert farming people. They raised crops of corn, beans, squash, and sunflowers, as well as cotton and tobacco. Pueblo men also hunted deer, antelope,
and small game, while women gathered nuts, fruits, and herbs. Favorite Pueblo recipes included hominy, popcorn, baked beans, soups, and different types of
cornbread. Here is a website with more information
about the agriculture of Native Americans.
What were Pueblo weapons and tools like in the past?
Pueblo hunters used bows and arrows. In war, Pueblo men fired their bows or fought with
spears and war clubs. Here is a website with pictures of Indian weapons.
Pueblo tools included wooden hoes and rakes for farming, spindles and looms for weaving cotton (and later wool), and pump
drills for boring holes in shell and turquoise beads.
What other Native Americans did the Pueblo tribe interact with?
The Zunis traded extensively with other tribes of the Southwest. Pueblo trade routes reached into Mexico and to the California
coast, supplying Pueblo craftsmen with shells, coral, and turquoise for their jewelry. The Navajos
and Comanches were favorite trading partners, though they often fought with each other as well.
Other enemies of the Pueblo tribes included the Apache and
Utetribes, who frequently raided their territory, and the Spanish, who forced many Pueblo Indians into
slavery and violently suppressed their religion.
What kinds of stories do the Pueblos tell?
There are lots of traditional Pueblo legends and fairy tales. Storytelling is very important to the
Pueblo Indian culture. Here is a Cochiti Pueblo story about a custody fight between Crow and Hawk.
Here's a website where you can read more about Pueblo mythology.
What about Pueblo religion?
Sorry, but we cannot help you with religious information. Religions are too complicated and culturally sensitive to describe appropriately
in only a few simple sentences, and we strongly want to avoid misleading anybody. You can visit this site to learn more about the
Keres Pueblo religion
or this site about Indian religions in general.
How do I cite your website in my bibliography?
You will need to ask your teacher for the format he or she wants you to use. The authors' names are Laura Redish and
Orrin Lewis and the title of our site is Native Languages of the Americas. We are a nonprofit educational organization
working to preserve and protect Native American languages and culture. You can learn more about our organization
here. Our website was first created in 1998 and last updated in
Thanks for your interest in the Pueblo Indian people and their languages!