Not Abandoning the Middle Place: Rethinking the Historic Tewa Pueblo World

Author(s): Samuel Duwe

Year: 2018


In the 1500s the settlement patterns of the Tewa Pueblo world fundamentally shifted. The Rio Chama valley was a population center with 12 villages housing thousands of people at the beginning of the fifteenth century. By century’s end it was nearly devoid of full-time habitation. The timing and causes of the protohistoric ‘abandonment’ of the Chama has sparked interest from archaeologists and historians. Was this movement out of the Chama the continuation of a centuries-long process of Pueblo coalescence, or rather a response to early Spanish contact and colonization? The latter idea is bolstered by the fact that the Chama is the ancestral homeland of Ohkay Owingeh where Governor Oñate established the first capitol of New Mexico in 1598.

I reframe this debate by assuming that the Chama was never abandoned. Based on archaeological, historic, and ethnographic documentation the Chama remains the heart of Ohkay Owingeh’s cosmography, and was visited and occupied throughout the Historic period. Opposed to favoring a prehistoric or historic cause for sixteenth-century landscape change, I take a ‘long-view’ that incorporates these disparate sources of knowledge and blurs the lines between history/prehistory to understand how the Tewa cosmos evolved in the face of dramatic change.

Cite this Record

Not Abandoning the Middle Place: Rethinking the Historic Tewa Pueblo World. Samuel Duwe. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443722)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -124.365; min lat: 25.958 ; max long: -93.428; max lat: 41.902 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 20062