Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



In Approaching Textiles, Varying Viewpoints: Proceedings of the Seventh Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2000


Copyright © 2000 by the author(s).


For over a thousand years, textiles have played a vital role in Pueblo ritual and social identity, linking past and present and reinforcing cultural bonds between widespread Pueblo communities. The group known collectively as the Pueblo Indians of the southwestern United States includes the Hopi people of northern Arizona, the Acoma, Laguna, and Zuni people of western New Mexico, and a string of Pueblo communities located near the Rio Grande in the vicinity of modem-day Albuquerque, Santa Fe, and Taos. Contemporary Pueblo people use virtually the same styles of ceremonial garments as those worn by their ancestors five to six hundred years ago, decorating these fabrics with motifs derived from ancestral textiles, ceramics, and other media (Dutton 1963; Hibben 1975; Keegan 1999; Kent 1983; Mera 1943; Roediger 1941; Smith 1952).

European colonization of the American Southwest brought dramatic changes to Pueblo societies, first in the form of Spanish tribute and labor demands and later with the transition to the American cash economy. These changes led to major shifts in the production, use, and exchange of Pueblo textiles (Webster 1997, in press).1 Five aspects of Pueblo textile production were affected: 1) the gender of weavers, 2) the scheduling of production, 3) the settings of production, 4) the materials and tools of production, and 5) networks of textile exchange. In this paper I look at changes to three of these systems-the sexual division of labor, the incorporation of labor-saving materials and techniques, and changes in regional exchange--to see how each contributed to the survival of the craft into modem times.