American Indian Heritage Month: Commemoration vs. Exploitation
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Zia Pueblo

"Zia" comes from the Spanish spelling of its Keresan name. The word "pueblo" comes from the Spanish for "village." It refers both to a certain style of Southwest Indian architecture, characterized by multi-story, 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 Zia Pueblo is located on the Jemez River, thirty miles north of Albuquerque, New Mexico. Several thousand people may have lived on the pueblo during 1540, although fewer than 300 remained in 1690 and fewer than 100 in 1890. The Zia Indians spoke a dialect of Keresan.

The Zians participated in the 1680 Pueblo Revolt against the Spanish. They suffered a bloody military defeat by Spanish forces in 1687: Six hundred were killed, and many were held captive for ten years. In 1689 the Zians received a royal land grant from Spain. In 1692 they accepted mass baptism and collaborated with the Spanish in their campaigns against other pueblos throughout the rest of the decade.

In the sixteenth century, the Zia Pueblo featured two- to three-story, apartment-style dwellings arranged around eight plazas. The buildings were constructed of adobe (earth-and-straw) bricks, with beams across the roof that were covered with poles, brush, and plaster. Floors were of wood plank or packed earth. The roof of one level served as the floor of another. The levels were interconnected by ladders. As an aid to defense, the traditional design included no doors or windows; entry was through the roof. Two pithouses, or kivas, served as ceremonial chambers and clubhouses. The village plaza, around which all dwellings were clustered, was the spiritual center of the village where all the balanced forces of the world came together.


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