Grade Levels: K-3

This page contains information to support educators and families in teaching K-3 students about the Pueblo people and culture. The information is designed to complement the BrainPOP Jr. movie Pueblo. It explains the type of content covered in the movie, provides ideas for how teachers and parents can develop related understandings, and suggests how other BrainPOP Jr. resources can be used to scaffold and extend student learning.

Many children learn that explorers “discovered” the New World, but it is important for them to understand that native people had been living in the area for thousands of years, long before the arrival of European explorers. Understanding Native American history is a crucial part of understanding American history. Your children should know that the Pueblo people are made up of many different Native American tribes in the Southwest, such as the Hopi, Zuni, Acoma, Taos, Santo Domingo, and Laguna. Each community has its own culture and language, though some share similarities. Many of the Pueblo people are descendants of the ancient Anasazi people who lived in the Southwest thousands of years ago. Today the Pueblo live mostly in New Mexico and Arizona, though they have also lived in Texas, Utah, and Colorado.

The Pueblo people are known for their homes and buildings, which are made of stone or adobe, a type of reddish clay. The adobes are often rectangular with flat roofs, and they can be multiple stories high with movable ladders. The Pueblo have built their villages on the edge of canyons, along cliffs, and on top of mesas, which are hills with flat tops. Historically, the Pueblo people are farmers, growing corn, beans, squash, and cotton. Though they live in a hot, dry area, the Pueblo have farmed successfully for hundreds of years because they found way to divert streams and rivers to irrigate their crops as well as developing advanced farming techniques. Nearly all Pueblo people are divided into clans, or small groups. The clans work together to run their communities and take turns governing and making important decisions. Historically in many Pueblo communities, the women care for the family, do light farm work, and make pottery, while the men weave, do heavy farm work, and lead ceremonies. Women in Pueblo cultures help build homes and also own their own houses. When a Pueblo woman marries, the man comes to live in her home. The Pueblo people are also skilled leather workers and make jewelry out of turquoise. Today many Pueblo still farm to make a living, but they also rely on trading and other occupations.

Some Pueblo people believe in kachinas, which are spirits of their ancestors. Remind your children that an ancestor is a family member from the past. The Pueblo may honor and pray to their kachinas and ask for advice and help. There are hundreds of kachinas, and from a young age, Pueblo children are given kachina dolls to familiarize themselves with the spirits of their ancestors.

The Pueblo lived peacefully for hundreds of years, but when the Spanish explorers arrived, the Pueblo’s way of life changed. In the 1800’s Spanish explorers arrived to the Southwest via Mexico and saw groups of native people living in adobe homes. We recommend watching the Mexico movie together for more information on Mexico. The Spanish explorers called the native people pueblo, which means “village” in Spanish. The explorers enslaved some of the Pueblo people, but many resisted and remained independent. The Spanish stole their crops, and built missions in order to convert the Pueblo to Christianity. Missionaries forced the native people to destroy their religious relics and demanded that they cease practicing their religious ceremonies and rituals. Many Pueblo people still practiced their religion in secret, often in underground rooms. The European settlers also brought smallpox, a contagious disease that decimated thousands of Pueblo people. The Pueblo remained strong, relying on each other to survive. In 1860, Pueblo communities banded together to revolt. They succeeded in driving the Spanish for a brief period of time.

Today, many Pueblo speak their native language, as well as English and Spanish. Many Pueblo celebrations blend Christianity with traditional practices. Remind your children that the Pueblo community remains strong today.

Filed as:  K-3, Pueblo, Social Studies