Situated throughout the west are dozens of
historic pueblos, some of which date back for centuries. These
Pre-Columbian towns and villages, which are primarily located in the
American Southwest, were often situated in defensive positions on high
mesas, cliffs, and in canyons.
The term "pueblo" was first used by Spanish
Explorers to describe the communities they found that consisted of
apartment-like structures made from stone, adobe mud, and other local
material. "Pueblo" also applied to the people who lived in these villages,
which meant in Spanish "stone masonry village dweller.”
who built these communities, are thought to be the descendants of three major cultures including the
Puebloans, with their
history tracing back for some 7,000 years.
apartment-like structures, sometimes several stories high often
surrounded an open plaza and were occupied by hundreds to thousands of
The structures were usually made of cut
sandstone or sun-dried bricks faced with adobe -- a combination of
earth mixed with straw and water. The outer walls were very thick,
sometimes several feet, which provided not only insulation, but, also
defense. Normally, outer walls had no doors or windows, but rather,
openings on the roofs with ladders leading into the interior. In case
of an attack, outside ladders could easily be pulled up. The buildings
had flat roofs, which served as working or resting places, as well as
observation points. Each family generally lived in just 1-2 rooms.
Each pueblo was an independent and separate community, though many
shared similarities in language, customs, and leaders.
Today, many of these centuries-old adobe
pueblos are still maintained and occupied and Pueblo
tribes number about
35,000 people who live primarily in
New Mexico and
Arizona along the Rio Grande and Colorado Rivers. Most of the pueblos are
open to the public and many of their ceremonies can be attended. Each
pueblo has its own rules and etiquette for visitors, which should be
reviewed before visiting.
In addition to contemporary pueblos, there are
numerous ruins of ancient communities throughout the Southwest.