Rio Grande Pueblo Indians
Rio Grande Pueblo Indians live in pueblos (villages) along the Rio Grande (Big River). Sometimes they are referred to as the Santo Domingo Pueblo Indians but there are many pueblos, and Santo Domingo is just one. Others include Acoma, Laguna, Isleta, Santa Clara, Taos, Zuni and others. (The word "pueblo" has many meanings and does not refer to a particular tribe. It can mean people, race, nation, town, or village.)
In fact pueblos cover an area from approximately Taos, New Mexico to Albuquerque. Each pueblo is very separate and its inhabitants are often of different ethnic groups and speak different languages. There are about 35,000 Pueblo Indians today that live in New Mexico and Arizona along the Rio Grande and the Colorado Rivers.
The Pueblo Indians are descedants of the Anasazi, the first people to enter the Americas, 20,000 years ago. Acoma pueblo is the oldest continuously inhabited place in the United States. It is said to have had residents since the 12th century.
The Pueblos economy has centered around farming and trade. Agriculture is dependant on a good source of water and fertile riverbottom land which explains why they have settled along the southwest's most reliable water sources, the Rio Grande and Colorado Rivers. Crops include corn, beans, melons, squash, chile peppers and cotton.
The Pueblo artists are skilled potters and basket weavers. In addition, Santo Domingo and other pueblos are famous for their skill in making hand rolled and cut beads known as heishi. Made from shell, turquoise, and other stones, they are painstakingly cut by hand into delicate beads and strung on necklaces.