Pueblo Languages of the Southwest

Authored by: Christine Sims

Handbook of Heritage, Community, and Native American Languages in the United States

Print publication date:  January  2014
Online publication date:  January  2014

Print ISBN: 9780415520669
eBook ISBN: 9780203122419
Adobe ISBN: 9781136332494

10.4324/9780203122419.ch19

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Abstract

Pueblo Indian languages of the American Southwest are spoken primarily among the 19 Pueblo Indian tribes of New Mexico, as well as the Hopi and Hopi-Tewa people of Arizona. Pueblo was the Spanish term used by 16th-century Spanish explorers to describe the indigenous agricultural villages they encountered while on their quest for the legendary, fabled cities of gold. Numerous Pueblo villages with their multistoried dwellings and cultivated fields encompassed a vast cultural area in what is known today as the Four Corners region of the southwestern United States. Here, where the present-day state boundaries of New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Utah meet, traces of ancient dwellings can still be seen today, scattered throughout the surrounding region of wide-open mesas, canyons, and sandstone bluffs. The most notable of these sites include Mesa Verde in southwestern Colorado and Chaco Canyon in northwestern New Mexico. As descendants of these ancestral Puebloan people, many present-day Pueblos consider these ancient sites sacred places that hold special significance in their oral traditions and reflect an ancient history that predates the Spanish, Mexican, and American settlement of the region.

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