When the Spanish arrived in America in the 16th century they encountered people living in New Mexico and Arizona. As they lived in permanent settlements of adobe houses they gave them the name Pueblo, the Spanish for town.
The Pueblo appear to be the oldest of all any Native American tribes in the United States. There is evidence that they lived in New Mexico and Arizona as early as 500 A.D. They irrigated desert lands and grew corn, vegetables, fruit and cotton. They were skilled craft workers and made baskets, pottery, textiles and jewelry.
Pueblo settlements were built on a high, steep-sided, flat-topped rock formation, which served as a natural fortress against their enemies such as the Navajo. The different apartments were connected by removable ladders.
In the 17th century the Spanish attempted to impose their authority over the Pueblo people. They were forced to pay taxes in the form of goods or labour. In an attempt to convert them to Christianity the Pueblos were ordered to abandon their own religious ceremonies and practices.
In 1680 the Pueblos rebelled against the Spanish and managed to drive them out of New Mexico. The area was not retaken until 1682 when the Spanish army under Diego de Varga defeated the Pueblos.
In 1848 the United States and Mexico signed the Treaty of Guadalupe de Hidalgo. Pueblo territory now became part of the United States. However, subsequent rulings by the Supreme Court has managed to restore most of these lands to the original owners.