The spiritual roots that sustain the 19 distinct pueblos of New Mexico (including Kewa “Santo Domingo”, Zuni, Acoma, Sandia, Santa Clara, San Ildefanso, Taos and Isleta among others in Dragonfly’s collection) connect them to the earth and sky, to the wind and water, to the sun and moon and to their ancestors.
The 19 Pueblos of New Mexico are the oldest tribal communities in the U. S. Located primarily in central and northern New Mexico, most Pueblos are within one hour of Albuquerque or Santa Fe. Modern day Pueblo culture evolved largely along the fertile Rio Grande Valley where Pueblo people developed advanced agriculture and animal husbandry. Zuni Pueblo is in western New Mexico close to the Arizona border.
Archeologists theorize that the Pueblo Indian groups began evolving from 12,000 to 30,000 years ago. During this span of time groups of prehistoric Indians wandered throughout what is now New Mexico and the Southwest, some possibly arriving from across the Bering Strait.
Generally, anthropologists believe the Hopi (in Arizona) and Rio Grande Pueblo peoples descend from the ancestral Pueblo culture which built the giant stone structures aligned the the heavens at Chaco Canyon and carved the cliffside caves at Bandelier as well as Mesa Verde and other locations in New Mexico, southern Colorado and eastern Arizona.
Native American spiritual leaders dispute the generalized archaeological theories of their evolution. Elders choose to teach young tribal members that their people evolved from the earth itself and that the people are as specific to their homeland region as the trees and the terrain which also sprouted from the earth.
Despite the loss of land to colonization by the Spanish, Mexican and American governments, the Pueblo Indians remain on their original homelands to this day. They take great care to preserve ancient traditions and languages. Pueblo Indians are well-known for their fine arts and crafts including hand coiled pottery, jewelry, weaving and drums. Annual Pueblo feast days celebrate the Pueblos’ traditional religious calendar and consist of religious dances that personify animals, nature and agricultural cycles to ensure the continuation of Life. Due to centuries of European contact, many Pueblo feast days coincide with days honoring the patron saints of Pueblo Catholic Missions.