Collection Description

Culture Name

Tewa Pueblos

Culture Description

The Tewa are a pueblo dwelling people living in seven distinct communities in the southwestern United States primarily in the states of New Mexico and Arizona. Tewa homes are built in clusters around central plazas where ceremonial activities take place. The Tewa were basically horticulturalists who developed hydraulic irrigation to water their principal crops of maize, beans, and squash. These crops were supplemented by hunting and gathering. Kinship groups were based on moieties and matrilineal clans.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


North America --Southwest and Basin


United States

OWC Code


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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in the eHRAF collection and are reference by author, date of publication, and eHRAF document number.

The NT18 Tewa Pueblos documents, all in English, cover a time span from approximately 1540 to the late twentieth century. Although this collection does deal to some extent with most of the Tewa pueblos of New Mexico – San Juan, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Tesuque, Pojoaque, and Nambe - major emphasis in this document is on the two pueblos of San Juan and San Ildefonso. A “classic” study of traditional Tewa ethnography, at least up to 1927, is found in Parsons (1929, no. 1), focusing on social organization, ritual, and ceremonies, but lacking much information on material culture. Brief culture summaries on some of the other pueblos will be found as follows: San Ildefonso (Whitman 1947 no. 5, Edelman 1979 no. 21); Santa Clara (Armon & Hil, 1979 no. 20); Nambe (Speirs 1979 no. 22); Pojoaque (Lambert 1979 no. 23); Tesuque (Edelman & Ortiz 1979 no. 24); and San Juan (Ortiz 1979 no. 19). Other major topics include population statistics on San Juan in Aberle (1940, no. 7); recent (twentieth century) culture change in San Ildefonso in Whitman (1940, no. 6); Tewa world view and the role of dual moiety organization in a functioning society in Ortiz (1969. no. 16); and details of the Raingod Drama, and the making of medicine men in San Juan in Laski (1958, no. 15).

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

John Beierle

Aguacil – sheriff - use "LEGAL AND JUDICIAL PERSONNEL (693)"

Cacique – religious practitioners - use "PRIESTHOOD (793)" sometimes with "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)"

Canes of office - use "PARAPHERNALIA (293)" with "STATUS, ROLE, AND PRESTIGE (554)"

Earth navels - use "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)" and/or "ETHNOGEOGRAPHY (823)"

Fiscales – church wardens - use "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)" with "CONGREGATIONS (794)" and/or "MORTUARY SPECIALISTS (767)", depending on context

Keh – medicine men - use "SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS (756)"

Kivas – religious structures - use "RELIGIOUS AND EDUCATIONAL STRUCTURES (346)"

Kossa – clowns and clown societies - use "HUMOR (522)" and/or "SODALITIES (575)", depending on context

Kwirana – clowns and clown societies - use "HUMOR (522)" and/or "SODALITIES (575)" depending on context

Kwiyoh - the women’s society - use "SODALITIES (575)"

Outside chiefs - use "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)"

Oxua – deities impersonated in Tewa rituals - use "SPIRITS AND GODS (776)"

Pika – officials in charge of burials - use "BURIAL PRACTICES AND FUNERALS (764)" with "MORTUARY SPECIALISTS (767)"

Pinan – magical power - use "MAGIC (789)" with "RITUAL (788)"

Po'se'e – scalps taken in warfare - use "AFTERMATH OF COMBAT (727)"

Prayer sticks - use "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)", with "PRAYERS AND SACRIFICES (782)"

Pufona – medicine societies - use "SHAMANS AND PSYCHOTHERAPISTS (756)"

Punabe – the ceremonial shinny game - use "ATHLETIC SPORTS (526)"

Punan - advisers to the governor - use "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)"

Releasing ceremony, following death - use "MOURNING (765)" and/or "RITUAL (788)"

Sacristan – assistant to priest - use "CONGREGATIONS (794)"

Sehshu – lay assistants to the chief - use "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)"

Summer chief – chief of the Summer moiety - use "MOIETIES (616)" with "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)"

Towaé – political organization of Tewa including Spanish as well as Tewa officials - use "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)" with "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)" and/or "LEGAL AND JUDICIAL PERSONNEL (693)" and/or "CONGREGATIONS (794)"; also a term used for supernaturals - use "SPIRITS AND GODS (776)"


Tsave yoh– masked supernatural beings impersonated by the Tewa in their rituals - use "SPIRITS AND GODS (776)"

Tseok e - scalp takers - use "MILITARY ORGANIZATION (701)  

War or hunt chief - use "LOCAL OFFICIALS (624)" sometimes with "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)

Water giving ceremony – a ceremony in which a child begins his recruitment into the moiety of his father - use "CEREMONIAL DURING INFANCY AND CHILDHOOD (852)"

Water pouring ceremony – a ceremony in which an individual becomes a member of Tewa society - use "PUBERTY AND INITIATION (881)"

Winter chief – chief of the Winter moiety - use "MOIETIES (616)" with "COMMUNITY HEADS (622)"

Xayeh – objects endowed with spiritual value; the tangible manifestations of ancestral souls - use "SACRED OBJECTS AND PLACES (778)"

Indexing Notes by

John Beierle

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