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Cathy Robbins Thinking Aloud

A holiday blend: Pueblo Indian Christmas

Every year, for more than 30 years, our family entered the world of Pueblo Christmas, unlike any that other Americans celebrated. At San Felipe Pueblo, a short distance north of our home in Albuquerque, we joined our Pueblo friends in their unique celebration. While many Americans blend family traditions in their modern families, the Pueblos have done this for centuries. The Spaniards “converted” the Pueblos in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. They forbade any Native religions for several decades, but after a violent Pueblo revolt, they stepped back and the Pueblos were able to bring back their Native practices in the context of Catholicism.

Those Native ways often overpower the Christian ones, beginning on Christmas Eve. In the small mission church of San Felipe, midnight mass ends, the priest leaves. And then the first of the Native dancers enters the church, almost to remind everyone just who is  Read More 
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Indians and Thanksgiving

Americans can easily recite the story of the first Thanksgiving. In 1621, a group of 53 colonists at Plymouth, MA, after enduring a harsh winter, sat with nearby American Indians - Wampanoag - for a harvest feast. Chief Massasoit himself and some of his men hunted for some deer that they brought to the feast.

What followed the arrival of the Europeans in North America, though, was not quite so festive. As many as 90 percent of the thousands of Wampanoags in Massachusetts and the offshore islands had already succumbed to disease, at first thought to be small pox but subsequently determined to be some other fever condition. By 1621, although they were as weakened as the colonists, they continued to welcome the outsiders. Then in the 1670s, their resistance to conquest led to the near obliteration of the tribes. The English confiscated their lands and enslaved the survivors.  Read More 
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