A few thousand years ago, the Pueblo tribe or the Puebloans lived throughout the southwestern United States. These people are believed to be closely related to the Aztec tribe. The Pueblo tribe earned their name because of the pueblos (Spanish for villages) they lived in.
Each tribe in the Americas lived and thrived in its own way, with unique survival modes. However, one of their common everyday activities was finding food.
Older tribes such as the Maya, Aztec, and Incas harvested food from their planted crops. These could be any edible plants such as maize, beans, tomatoes, and chilies. Since the Puebloans were related to the Aztec people, did they share the same way of life?
How did the Pueblo get their food?
The Pueblo tribe got their food from hunting and farming activities. They were both hunter-gatherers and farmers.
Men from the Pueblo tribe would venture into the surrounding lands and hunt small game birds, wild turkeys, antelope, bison, and deer to obtain meat. On the other hand, women would gather nuts, fruits, herbs, and other crops. The Puebloans also raised farm animals such as goats and sheep. Aside from being their meat source, they traded these animals with other Native American tribes that lived in the regions.
How Did the Pueblo Farm Their Food?
Farming and planting crops were some of the easy ways for the people during the Pueblo I period to obtain food.
This way of living suited them best, especially when they decided to inhabit a specific location for a very long time.
These crops provided them with all the nutrients that they needed. For instance, beans and corn are excellent sources of carbohydrates, protein, fiber, and other essential vitamins.
Keeping a constant water supply in arid regions can be quite challenging to keep the crops alive.
However, the Pueblo people were resourceful enough to develop a farming method that could retain water for a more extended period. They used pumice as mulch.
Pumice possesses the ability to absorb and retain water and makes a good mulch.
Additionally, their chosen crops were also heat-resistant and possessed the ability to thrive in an arid environment. For instance, corn can withstand the heat and full sunlight and create shade for the other two low-growing crops.
The Puebloans also implemented other farming techniques to conserve water, such as terracing, waffle or grid gardens, and small dams to counteract erosion while reducing the flow of water between slopes and elevations.
Lastly, the Pueblo people also choose the best locations to plant their crops.
For instance, they planted the crops on small plots between narrow canyons. They tried to avoid steep canyons that blocked most of the sunlight during the day and weren’t exposed to enough rain.
Most of the best locations for farming were located on top of mesas. This is due to the fact that mesa tops are open spaces that can receive enough moisture.
How Did the Pueblo Tribe Get Water?
When the hot season arrived, the Pueblo tribe needed water more than anything. They also had to keep their crops alive, especially during the drought.
Hence, Pueblo farmers started building small dams and reservoirs to store water. This invention also helped them to collect and store rainwater and melted snow.
How Did the Pueblo Hunt?
Hunting was the domain of Pueblo men to obtain meat and furs for the tribe. They hunted with a spear-like weapon called an atlatl. The atlatls were thrown towards the animals they targeted from a long distance.
In some cases, herbivores such as deers, rabbits, and rodents would linger around their farmed areas in search of food. They usually took this opportunity to catch these animals without having to go out of the village.
Today, the heritage of the Pueblo people remains one of the oldest and most famous among Native Americans. As of November 2021, there were around 35,000 tribal members living along the Rio Grande in New Mexico and the Colorado River in Arizona.
Most of their villages, or pueblos, are open to the public. However, each pueblo lives by its own set of rules and etiquette, especially during ceremonies and other tribal rituals. If you want to explore their villages and learn about their culture, check their rules before your trip.