ABSTRACT

The archaeological record of Puebloan groups in the American Southwest shows two widespread and broadly shared periods of population aggregation: an initial development of small farming villages and a later period of nucleation into the high-density settlements that the Spanish referred to as pueblos, or towns (e.g., Cordell et al. 1994). In general, the Spanish explorers, conquerors, and missionaries seem to have viewed each pueblo as a relatively well-organized and integrated community, with internal governance and varied relationships with neighboring groups. The Spanish also recognized that shared religious beliefs and communal rituals were important in creating a sense of community within each pueblo. Some of these rituals and activities were private, involving only selected individuals in the secluded space of an interior ceremonial room or kiva (Adams 1991). Other activities on the plaza involved larger groups and were visible to all pueblo residents and even visitors. The Spanish recognized pueblo plazas as open areas similar to their own marketplaces or town squares-that is, areas that functioned in part as a symbol and expression of the community as a whole (Adler 1996; Adler and Wilshusen 1990; Barrett 2002).