• $5.99

Publisher Description

In November 1922, the Council of All the New Mexico Pueblos issued "An Appeal to the People of the United States" in protest against the Bursum Bill, then under debate in Congress. The Bursum Bill was intended to settle longstanding title disputes over ancestral Pueblo lands, but its opponents claimed it would strip the Indians of approximately sixty thousand acres. The council, which included delegates from all nineteen of New Mexico's pueblos, protested not only against this threatened loss of land, but also against the bill's potential to disrupt every aspect of tribal life. They wrote, "This bill will destroy our common life and will rob us of everything which we hold dear--our lands, our customs, our traditions." (1) This Pueblo statement linked the preservation of land and of culture, and over the next several years the Pueblos were forced to defend both. In the midst of bitter public debates over the disputed Pueblo lands, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) issued new policies aimed at severely restricting traditional Native American dancing. Although these policies applied to all Indians, the ensuing controversy focused largely on the Pueblos because so much public attention was already focused on them. Many of the people involved in both the Pueblo land and dance controversies, including the Pueblo Indians themselves, saw connections between the two disputes. But despite their observations, historians have not yet explored the extent or significance of these connections. (2) This essay does so, arguing that the early-twentieth-century pressures on Pueblo landholdings were among the reasons for the attempts to repress Pueblo culture and sovereignty in the period. More specifically, those who wished to reduce Pueblo landholdings both contributed to and benefited from the attacks on Pueblo tribal governments and ceremonies. Of course, this dynamic is not unique to the Pueblo experience. The history of federal Indian policy is one of attacks on both Indian land and Indian culture, and these attacks have often been intertwined in complex ways. Thus, the controversies over Pueblo land and Pueblo religion illustrate some of the interrelationships among land, culture, and sovereignty in American Indian history.

June 22
University of Arizona
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

More Books by Journal of the Southwest