Indigenous Identity

The existence of the pueblo people is often framed by the locations they happened to be inhabiting when the Spanish encountered them, locations which they are in large part still inhabiting to this day. American policy reinforces this frame; defining nineteen independent sovereign pueblos as nations within borders, their nationhood loses legal legitimacy outside those borders. 

While traditional pueblo lifestyles may seem to confirm this perception—agricultural and sedentary, they were not as given to constant nomadism as other local tribes that subsisted more on hunting—to see pueblo history and culture only within the limitations of their present localities is to ignore their larger history of immigration, migration, intermarriage, human trafficking, and resettlement. For example, when early archaeologists (predisposed to this limited perception) first came across ancient ruins throughout the southwest, such as those near Abiquiu, they attributed the ruins to a ‘vanished’ people they termed the “Anasazi”—instead of connecting the past they had uncovered to the present. This lack of connection tends to shrink the story, shutting out varied complex lineages—such as Chicanos, Genizaros, pueblo people with Anglo fathers, and so on—from indigeneity.