American Indian Heritage Month: Commemoration vs. Exploitation
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Santa Clara Pueblo

The Tewa name for the Santa Clara Pueblo is Capo, variously translated. The word "pueblo" comes from the Spanish for "village." It refers both to a certain style of Southwest Indian architecture, characterized by multistory, apartment-like buildings made of adobe (pueblo), and to the people themselves (Pueblo). Rio Grande Pueblos are known as eastern Pueblos; Zunis, Hopis, and sometimes Acomas and Lagunas are known as western Pueblos. The Santa Clara Pueblo is located on the west bank of the Rio Grande, about twenty-five miles north of Santa Fe. The people spoke a dialect of Tewa.

The Santa Clara Pueblo experienced a major political schism in the 1890s. The winter division, the more "progressive" for much of the nineteenth century, had resisted the rigid dictates of pueblo life and advocated a separation of religious from secular life. In 1894, the summer division and some winter people applied for and received recognition from the Indian agency in Santa Fe as the legitimate governing authority at the Pueblo. For the next thirty years, the summer division elected all secular officials except the lieutenant governor and tried to enforce the traditionally rigid sacred–secular connection. The winter group resisted and openly defied them.

In the 1930s, each division split along progressive and conservative lines; now there were four factions, each allied with a like-minded group. Their government in shambles, the Pueblos requested arbitration by the Indian Service in Santa Fe, with the result that they incorporated under the Indian Reorganization Act (IRA) and turned to a constitution and an elected government. Thus religious and secular affairs were finally split, and participation in ceremonies was made voluntary.


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