Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2017

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Catherine M. Cameron

Second Advisor

Scott G. Ortman

Third Advisor

Douglas B. Bamforth


This study examines use of pipes and smoking materials at trade centers in the Northern Rio Grande region of New Mexico. It explores whether these objects were part of ritually mediated interactions between these two regional groups, asking: were smoking pipes an element in negotiations between Pueblo people and their Plains neighbors? Ethnographic and ethnohistoric literature indicates that pipe-smoking was part of rituals that cemented inter-tribal trade relationships. Therefore, I propose that pipes, which were used in trade negotiations and ceremonial interactions, can be useful for examining social interaction and regional mediation aspects of trade and decision making.

Three categories of data totaling 1,306 pipes were collected. The first was a comprehensive analysis of pipes from Pecos Pueblo, a large Protohistoric trade center located at the boundary of Pueblo and Plains territory. The second was an analysis of pipes from a selection of Southwest and Plains sites held in several museums. The third involved data collected from site reports for Eastern Pueblo sites. The methods used in this study included analyses and tabulations of particular physical attributes of pipes that provide information on pipe use and regional style, as well as spatial and temporal analyses of pipe concentrations and concentrations of particular pipe attributes.

The overall abundance of pipes, particularly at sites in the Northern Rio Grande, as well as the large number of pipes with use-wear, suggests that pipe smoking was a frequent activity in the Protohistoric period. Finding pipes of ceremonial forms and materials, as well as concentrations of pipes in areas where ceremonial structures were located and at locations within sites where interaction between Plains and Pueblo people was reported to have taken place, provides evidence that at least some pipes were used in ceremonial interactions between different groups. The presence of non-local pipe forms and materials at Pueblo sites and Plains sites supports the idea that Plains and Pueblo people were interacting, and that pipes were part of this interaction. The blending of Plains and Pueblo form and materials suggests that there may have been a certain level of integration, alliance, or partnership in these interactions.