Native American Terms – What does Pueblo Mean?

Hi Paula,

I’m confused about the meaning of the word pueblo and wonder if you can clear it up for me. Thank you,


Hi Paul,

I can see why. The meaning of the word in the Native American sense has several layers, all somewhat distinct yet related.

The general definition for pueblo is community.

In Spanish pueblo means a village or town.

In Native American usage, pueblo has more specific meanings:

* There is the Pueblo culture, the people themselves, the Pueblos.

* There are the various Pueblos, or communities.

* There are buildings called pueblos.


The Pueblos are Native Americans from the Southwest US. Historically they have been farmers and traders. In the 16th century, Spanish explorers encountered the Pueblos living in small villages.


Today there are 21 individual Pueblos (see list below). Some of the most familiar are Zuni, Taos, Hopi, Santo Domingo, Acoma and Isleta. They are located in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas. Previously there were pueblos in Colorado such as the Anasazi cliff pueblos at Mesa Verde. The inhabitants of the Southwest Pueblos are thought to be descendants of the Anasazi cliff dwellers.

Today’s 21 Federally Recognized Pueblos

* Hopi Tribe of Arizona

* Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Acoma, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Cochiti, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Jemez, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Isleta, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Laguna, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Nambe, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Picuris, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Pojoaque, New Mexico

* Pueblo of San Felipe, New Mexico

* Pueblo of San Ildefonso, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Sandia, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Santa Ana, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Santa Clara, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Santo Domingo, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Taos, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Tesuque, New Mexico

* Pueblo of Zia, New Mexico

* Ysleta Del Sur Pueblo of Texas

* Zuni Tribe of the Zuni Reservation, New Mexico

Examples of some Native American pieces from some of the pueblos above:

10-Strand Coral and Turquoise Heishi Necklace by Frank Ortiz, San Felipe Pueblo

5-Strand Turquoise Spirit Necklace by Doris Coriz, Santo Domingo Pueblo

Turquoise Petit Point Cluster Pin Pendant by Kevin Quam, Zuni

Sterling Silver Kokopelli Belt Buckle by Steven Sockyma, Hopi


Pueblo also refers to a stone or adobe communal building – one that houses multiple families and is for use by other members of the community. The apartment-like structures were/are multi-level with ladder access.  Pueblos often had a common courtyard or plaza.


2 thoughts on “Native American Terms – What does Pueblo Mean?

  1. Pingback: Food and Clothes of Ancient Pueblos « Native American Jewelry Tips

  2. Pingback: Dragonfly and the Isleta Cross | Native American Jewelry Tips

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