Date of Award

Spring 4-1-2018

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

First Advisor

Scott Ortman

Second Advisor

Catherine Cameron

Third Advisor

Sarah Kurnick


This research examines the designs on ceramics in the Mesa Verde and Northern Rio Grande regions to investigate the origins of the non-kin-based moieties that characterize contemporary Tewa Pueblo social organization. Previous archaeological work has drawn upon evidence of divided villages in arguing that moiety organization first emerged at the village level, but Tewa tradition suggests non-kin-based moieties were associated with paired villages, not divided single villages. In this research I draw upon Tewa tradition and metaphorical expressions in pottery designs to argue that the non-kin-based moieties that characterize contemporary Tewa communities originated in paired villages as opposed to single divided villages. This points to the need for a different explanation for divided villages.

Moieties, or dual tribal sodalities, are central to traditional Tewa social organization, and recent work suggests ancestral Tewa society is descended in some senses from the ancestral Pueblo society of the Mesa Verde Region. There is extensive discussion of Summer and Winter moieties in Tewa oral tradition (Ortiz 1969) which suggests dual division social organization pre-dates the migration of Tewa ancestors into the Northern Rio Grande Region where their descendants live today. This thesis investigates this possibility through analyses of pottery designs, guided by ideas concerning the symbolic associations of Tewa moieties and metaphors expressed through pottery designs. The results provide some support for the notion that Tewa ancestors were experimenting with paired summer/winter village associations prior to their migration to the Northern Rio Grande, and that this form of organization became prominent in the immediate aftermath.