THE FIRST AMERICANS

BY F. S. DELLENBAUGH
IN the middle of the sixteenth century, when the Spaniards who had followed Columbus and Cortes to the New World worked their way northward into the region that is now New Mexico and Arizona, they found to their surprise a people dwelling there in well-constructed, flat-roofed houses of stone. They gave to these people the name of Pueblos, or villagers, to distinguish them from the wild tribes; and by this name they have been known in general ever since, though each village and cluster of villages has its distinctive title.

The Pueblos, instead of roaming about, subsisting on chance game, cultivated Indian corn so largely that they ordinarily were able to store a supply to provide against the possibility of future famine; and such is still their custom. Not only had they made this progress in agriculture and architecture, but they had also done something in the way of manufacturing, especially in the making of pottery and weaving of blankets. Their pottery was varied in shape and ornamentation and skilfully modeled without the aid of a wheel. Of the potter's wheel they are ignorant to this day, still following the practice of their forefathers in this matter as in many others. Their blankets of cotton were unique in their designs; and these designs are perpetuated to-day in woolen material, as well as in cotton, though the latter is now used principally in the sacred ceremonies.

Those towns nearest to Santa Fé (which itself was originally a Pueblo village and is, probably, the oldest town inhabited by white people in the United States) came most directly under the influence of the Spaniards. They made Santa Fé their seat of government, and gradually many Spanish customs prevailed among the natives in this part of the country. The Spanish priests, following the army of invasion, soon made converts, and eventually the barbarous rites of the people in the towns near Santa Fé were abolished in favor of Christianity. Churches of adobe, or sun-dried brick, were erected, and the Christian religion was in time accepted by numerous communities.

The towns at a distance were not so easy of access, and hence longer maintained their independence, supporting and favoring the smoldering discontent of those in other localities whose prejudices or patriotism resented the Spanish dominion. These native patriots believed the salvation of their country demanded the expulsion of these domineering foreigners from their land. We cannot blame them for thus regarding the Spaniards, for we should certainly resent any interference by foreign powers with our affairs, and the Pueblos were, in many respects, a civilized people and had governed themselves for centuries before the Spaniards appeared in their territories. Secretly, these patriots worked to arouse their fellow-countrymen against the intruders, hoping to succeed in a revolution which should annihilate the Spanish power and restore the ancient rites and customs. Several of these conspiracies were discovered by the Spanish Governor-General, and the conspirators paid for their patriotism with their lives; but, in a few years, others took their places, and while peace seemed to smile on all the land, a volcano was seething under the very feet of the invaders.

There had been so much internal dissension among the Pueblos over religion and over water-privileges (often a matter of the utmost importance in those arid lands) before the arrival of the Spaniards, that concerted action must have been difficult to bring about; but at last, near the end of the seventeenth century, there was a mighty uprising, the foreigners were driven out of the country, and retreated into Mexico, and those villages which had been under the Spanish yoke revived their native ceremonies, which had been in disuse for a full century.

Meanwhile the Spaniards were not content to let slip so easily this accession to their king's domain. Collecting a stronger army, General Vargas returned, and conquered village after village, until the rebellion was extinguished for all time. Never since that day have the Pueblos shown a warlike spirit, having accepted their subjugation as inevitable. They were made citizens by Spain, but since their territory became a portion of the United States they have ranked politically with the other Indians. The last locality to be brought under subjection was the Province of Tusayan, the home of the Mokis.

A PUEBLO INDIAN BESIDE AN EAGLE-CAGE

A PUEBLO INDIAN BESIDE AN EAGLE-CAGE

At that time this province was so difficult to reach, that the horses of the Spanish general's troops were completely demoralized, and he was therefore obliged to omit a visit to Oraibi, the largest and furthest removed of the villages. He had, however, met with little resistance from the inhabitants, and, doubtless, did not deem the Mokis a warlike race. After the departure of Vargas, the Mokis continued their old ways and were seldom visited, so that even now, three and a half centuries after the first visit of the Spaniards, they remain nearly in their original condition.

Next to the Moki towns, the Pueblo of Zuñi maintained its primitive customs to the greatest extent, and from similar causes.

The illustration is from a photograph made in Zuñi by Mr. Hillers, photographer of the Bureau of Ethnology, and shows one of the natives, dressed in the costume of to-day, beside an eagle-cage. The costume is composed of simple materials, the trousers being of unbleached cotton, the shirt of calico, and the turban generally of some soft red cloth. The Mokis wear their hair cut straight across the eyebrows in a sort of "bang," then straight back even with the bottom of the ear, the rest being made up into a knob behind. All are particular about their ornaments, caring little for any common sorts of beads, but treasuring coral, turquoise, and silver.

The eagle is sacred among Pueblos who have not abandoned their native religion, and the feathers are used in religious ceremonies. For this reason the eagle is protected and every feather preserved. His nesting-places are carefully watched, and often visited, so that a supply of feathers, from little downy ones no larger than a twenty-five cent piece to the stiff and long ones from the wing and tail, are preserved in every family,—the first, or downy ones, to breathe their prayers upon; the larger ones for other sacred uses. Sometimes several "prayers" are fastened to one little twig that all may proceed together to their destination. There is something very poetic in this breathing of a prayer upon a feather from the breast of an eagle—in flight the king of birds, familiar with regions which man can know only through sight.

The Navajos have no reverence for the bird. They make raids upon the nesting-places where for centuries the Mokis have obtained feathers, and these raids are a common source of trouble between the two tribes.

None of the present buildings of the Pueblos are equal in masonry to the ruins common throughout the region. These were ruins even when the Spaniards arrived, and, consequently, it is supposed that a superior people once occupied the country, who may, however, have been either ancestors or kindred to the Pueblos. In time the question may be solved through the numerous legends illustrated in pottery decoration, for all the decorations have a meaning, and the legends are handed down by word of mouth from father to son. Once when the legends were being discussed, Pow-it-iwa, an old Moki, poetically remarked to a friend of mine, "Many have passed by the house of my fathers, and none has stopped to ask where they have gone; but we of our family live to-day to teach our children concerning the past."