North American Native American Cultural Areas: Southwestern Area


Figure 1.--This reproduction of a painting by William R. Leigh appeared in a 1921 book. It depicts a Navaho shepard boy in New Mexico. The painting is entitled, "The land of his fathers".

This area comprised chiefly the states of Arizona, New Mexico and adjacent areas of Texas, California and northwestern Mexico. It is a warm, arid area, but adapted for some kinds of agriculture by many of the tribes. The historic (more recent) tribes comprise the true Pueblos, such as the Hopi, Zuņi, Taos, and Navaho, Apache, Walapai, Mohave, Yuma, and Pima as well as other tribes in northern Mexico. The largest tribe in the United States was the Navajo. The most war-like and difficult to control was the Apache. The south-western peoples comprise two distinct cultural groups, destinguished by the type of villages in which they lived--pueblo and non-pueblo, as well as other cultural characteristics. The pueblo peoples beside the destintive villages shared te use of the kiva (ceremonial house), kachina dances, altars, and sacred corn meal. tilling of the field and weaving of cloth by men rather than women, a clan system and ceremonies, and domestication of the turkey. The Hopi are one of the best known pueblo peoples and practice a distinctive dance, the snake dress, not practiced by other pueblo people. The non-pueblo tribes are much less uniform in culture. The main non-pueblo tribes, the Navaho, Apache, and Pima, were more nomadic than the pueblos, but all cultivated fields to varying degrees--the Apache the least and the Pima the most. The Apache began caring for sheep. Great variations were reported in baskert weaving and pottery. The social and political organization of the non-pueblos was much simplier and less sophisticated than the pueblos, more like the plains tribes. The Yuman were an important Southwestern language group. There were many small tribes, including the Paiute.

Geography

This area comprised chiefly the states of Arizona, New Mexico and adjacent areas of Texas, California and northwestern Mexico. It would have been part if the overland route south that led to Meso-America anf South America. It includes arid and desert areas. As a result, many of the important civilizations of Meso-America have origins from warlike tribes that migrated from this area. It ws alo the location that the Clovis point was first found (Clovis, New Mexico). The Clovis point once dominated Native Americn histrorgraphy, although questions have been raised in recent years. The area was part of the Spanish Empire as part of New Spain which include both the Southwest and the Great Plains. Then for a short period the more northerly trans-Mississpi Great Plains area (Louisiana) was obtained by France. Napoleon was going to use it for a North American campaign, but instead sold it to the United States. With the Latin Amrican wars of liberation, what is now the American Southwest and Txas became northern Mexico. While part of Mexico, very few Mexicans moved north into the area. A generally arid landcpe was part of the reason. Another part of the reason was that the area was occuoied by Natgove Americans, maby of who fooercly defended their lands. The Mexican Army was unavle to provide security. For this reason, at the time of the Texas War for Independence (1835) and the Mexican-American War (1846-48), few Mexicans actully lived in the area. This was a major reason Mexico lost both wars. It is also why the Mexican-American War is best scene as not a war betwwen America and Mexico, but instead a war between two expanist countries over who would control the area primarily populated by Native Americans.

Climate

It is a warm, arid area, but adapted for some kinds of agriculture by many of the tribes.

Tribes

The south-western peoples comprise two distinct cultural groups, destinguished by the type of villages in which they lived--pueblo and non-pueblo, as well as other cultural characteristics. The historic (more recent) tribes of the southwestern cultural area comprise the true Pueblos, such as the Hopi, Zuņi, Taos, and Navaho, Apache, Walapai, Mohave, Yuma, and Pima as well as other tribes in northern Mexico. The largest tribe in the United States was the Navajo. The most war-like and difficult to control was the Apache. The pueblo peoples beside the destintive villages shared te use of the kiva (ceremonial house), kachina dances, altars, and sacred corn meal. tilling of the field and weaving of cloth by men rather than women, a clan system and ceremonies, and domestication of the turkey. The Hopi are one of the best known pueblo peoples and practice a distinctive dance, the snake dress, not practiced by other pueblo people. The non-pueblo tribes are much less uniform in culture. The main non-pueblo tribes, the Navaho, Apache, and Pima, were more nomadic than the pueblos, but all cultivated fields to varying degrees--the Apache the least and the Pima the most. The Apache began caring for sheep. Great variations were reported in baskert weaving and pottery. The social and political organization of the non-pueblos was much simplier and less sophisticated than the pueblos, more like the plains tribes. The Yuman were an important Southwestern language group. Several tribes composed the Yuman group including the Hualapai and Yuma tribes. The largest reibe was the Navajo centered in the Four Corners region and relatively recent arrivals. There were many small Southwestern tribes, including the Paiute and Qahatika.






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Created: 6:06 AM 1/19/2009
Last updated: 5:16 PM 8/21/2015