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(From the American Anthropologist (N. s.), Vol. 4, No. i, January-March, 1902) 









On a map of the " Reino de la Nueua Mexico," made by 
Father Menchero about 1747,' five pueblos are figured on the 
right bank of the Rio Grande, below the site of the present city 
of El Paso, Texas. One of these, called in the legend, Presidio 
del Paso, is situated where Juarez, in Chihuahua, now stands, just 
opposite El Paso. The other four are designated on this map as 
Mision d S n Lorenzo, Mision d Cenecu, Mision d la Isleta, and 
Mision del Socorro. Each is indicated by a picture of a church 
building, with surrounding lines representing irrigation canals, as 
the legend "riego de las misiones " states. All of these lie on the 
right bank of the river, or in what is now the state of Chihuahua, 
Mexico. It is known from historical sources that Indians speak 
ing at least four different dialects, and probably comprising three 
distinct stocks, inhabited these five towns. The Mansos lived in 
El Paso, the Suma in San Lorenzo, the Tiwa in Ysleta, and the 
Piros in Senecu and Socorro; there were also other Indians 
Tano, Tewa, and Jemez scattered through some of these set 
tlements. All the above-mentioned villages had been founded in 
historic times, or since Oflate first forded the Rio Grande at the 
Pass of the North in 1598. From documentary sources we learn 
that Tiwa and Piros were colonized in this region at the end of 
the seventeenth century, having come down the river with 

1 A copy of this map was published in 1892 by the Kartographisches Institut of 
lin. Although not dated, the legend reads that it was prepared during the admin 
istration of Don Juan Francisco Guemes y Orcasitas, who was governor of New 
Mexico during 1747. 

. 5 ^ AMERICAN ANTHROPOLOGIST [N. s., 4, 1902 

; Otermin in 1680, and that the Mansos and Suma were settled in 
pueblos near the ford almost a century before. 

During an exploration of certain ruins in central New Mexico 
in the summer and autumn of 1901, under the auspices of the 
Bureau of American Ethnology, the author studied the ancient 
habitations of the Piros near Socorro and Magdalena. 1 At the 
close of these studies he visited Senecu, Mexico, and Socorro, 
Texas, where the survivors now live, in order to gather any cur 
rent tradil^bns concerning them that might be found to survive. 
He had also' in mind the forming of an acquaintance with the 
remnants of the Tiwa whose ancestors lived in New Mexico 
about the northern boundary of the old Piros range. The present 
article considers especially the Tiwa of Ysleta and the Piros of 
Senecu and Socorro. 

These Indians have practically become " Mexicanized," and 
survivals of their old pueblo life which still remain, such as their 
dances before the church, have long lost the meaning which they 
once had or that which similar dances still have in the pueblos 
higher up the Rio Grande. The southern Tiwa and Piros are 
good Roman Catholics, and their old dances are still kept up not 
from a. lingering belief of the Indians in their old religion, as is 
the case with certain pueblos in which Christianity is merely a 
superficial gloss over aboriginal beliefs, but as survivals which 
have been worn down into secular customs. They cannot give 
an intelligible explanation of the meaning of these dances, be 
cause they do not know their significance. Interest in them on 
the part of the ethnologist is purely as folklore, for they represent 
a stage through which the dances of the Pueblos ultimately 
go when the complexion of the population changes from Indian 
to Mexican. Ysleta is an instructive example of a Pueblo Indian 
settlement which has become a Mexican town, the number of 
Americans settled there not being large enough to affect ma- 

1 A special account of the ruins near this town, especially those of the " pueblo " 
visited by Vargas in 1692, is in preparation. 


terially the population. It is therefore instructive to study a. 
pueblo in this stage of transformation. 

The notes which serve as the basis of this article were col 
lected on a brief visit to El Paso, in October, 1901. While the 
author lays no claim to an exhaustive study of the survivors of 
the Pueblos, he would call attention to a field which offers much 
to the ethnologist, folklorist, and archeologist. The object of the 
article in brief, then, is to set forth, in a general way, a few facts 
regarding the Tiwa of Ysleta and the Piros of Senecu. Since 
the former are more numerous and their customs less changed, 
he will begin with them. 


The pueblo of Ysleta, Texas, situated on the left bank of the 
Rio Grande, about fourteen miles below El Paso, is a small vil 
lage with a mixed population of Indians, Mexicans, and Ameri 
cans. The Indian name of the village is Chiawipia, 1 or practically 
the same as that of the pueblo of Isleta in New Mexico, a name 
which the Hopi also give to the latter village, in which, they say, 
are settled certain Tiwa whose ancestors once lived in their terri 
tory. The name " Ysleta " would indicate its site on an island, 
and the fact that on Menchero's map it is placed on the right 
bank of the Rio Grande, while its present site is on the left, may 
be harmonized by supposing that the course of the river has 
changed since the map was made. 

The most striking building in Ysleta is the church, dedicated 
to Nuestra Sefiora del Carmen, the beautiful bell-tower of which 
can be seen for several miles. 

Several references to the settlement and early history of 
Ysleta may be found by consulting the valuable contributions 
of Bancroft and Bandelier. The author has taken the liberty of 
quoting a few lines from the former to account for the existence 

1 Or Chipiya. Note the similarity of this term with Cipia, an historic name of 
former pueblo dwellers along the Little Colorado. 


t>f Tiwa and Piros colonies in this section. " With the 385 
natives," writes Bancroft, " that had come with Otermin from 
Isleta, a few who had accompanied the original refugees of 1680, 
and some who came later, the padres proceeded to found three 
new mission pueblos in the south. These were Senecu, Socorro, 
and Isleta." l 

The author has seen a manuscript copy of a document, dated 
May 19, 1692, in possession of Father Cordovas, a priest at Ysleta, 
who claims that the original, now in Mexico, is the earliest exist 
ing record of the church. The following legend found on a 
photograph by the same priest refers to this manuscript : " This 
document in the name of the King of Spain gives charge of the 
church of Corpus Christi de los Tiguas en el Reino de la Nueba 
Mexico de el Distrito de el Paso Canton Bravos, to Fray Joaquin 
Ynojosa. Years after, the titular saint of the church was changed 
to St Anthony, the patron of the Indians, Ysleta being then a 
Tigua village. Later on a petition was sent to the Bishop to 
change the second titular saint ; this request being granted, the 
church was dedicated to Nuestra Seftora del Carmen." 

The oldest portion of the present church building is that in 
which the altar now stands, the tower and facade being of much 
later construction. The open space before the church is sur 
rounded by a low adobe wall. This enclosure, in which stands a 
cross, is called the cemetery, and was formerly a burial place, as 
its name implies, but it is no longer used for that purpose. Here 
certain dances survivals of pagan ceremonies dating back in 
the history of the pueblo to a time when it was practically a 

1 " S. Ant. de Senecu, of Piros and Tompiros, 2 leagues below El Paso (or 
Guadalupe) ; Corpus Christi de Isleta (Bonilla, Apuntes, MS., 2, calls it S. Lorenzo 
del Realito), of Tiguas i^ leagues east of Senecu ; and Nra del Socorro, of Piros, 
Tanos, and Jemes, on the Rio del Norte 7 leagues from Isleta and 12 leagues from 
El Paso." (Bancroft, Arizona and New Mexico, p. 191, note.) If Socorro was then 7 
leagues from Ysleta, it was not on its present site, if the distance given is correct. 
" In '83," according to Bancroft (p. 191), on account of a plot in Socorro to kill Padre 
Antonio Guerra, the pueblo was " moved to a site nearer Isleta," evidently to its 
present location. 


Tiwan village occur after mass on feast days elsewhere men 

The site of the old pueblo adjoins this cemetery, from which 
it is now separated by a street. The cacique remembers that 
formerly Indian houses were arranged on that site in rectangular 
form about a plaza, each building being a small one-story habita 
tion made of upright logs chinked and plastered with adobe, 
forming a type of building called by the Mexicans jacal. There 
still remain a few houses of this kind in the neighboring hamlet 
of Socorro that are reputed to be among the oldest in the pueblo. 
Piarote, the present cacique of Ysleta, lives in an adobe house 
standing not far from what was once a corner of the former 
pueblo, and other houses in the neighborhood belong to Indians 
who likewise have dwellings and tracts of land scattered in all 
directions from the church. 

In late years several Tiwa families have moved away from 
Ysleta to Las Cruces, New Mexico, and other localities along the 
railroad where they find profitable employment. The governor, 
Mariano, claims that the town of Tulerosa, near the Mescalero 
Apache reservation, was settled by Tiwa families from Ysleta, 
but others deny this. The Ys'leteflos formerly hunted bison in 
Pecos valley, and one of the masks used at Christmas in the Baile 
de Tortuga, elsewhere referred to, is made of bison hide. 1 They 
were therefore well acquainted with the Mescalero reservation, 
and the springs there were probably favorite camping places. 

Many of the Tiwa have served in the army as scouts against 
the Apache, and among the names of some twenty men recorded 
by the writer several have discharge papers setting forth the 
value of their services ; others were killed while in the service 
of the United States. None of the former receives a pension or 
rations. They have no resident agent or missionary, and, 
although poor, they are industrious, self-respecting, law-abiding 

1 This mask was obtained by the author. 


In addition to the Tiwa living at Ysleta, there are one or two 
families in a neighboring hamlet called "Zaragosa, across the river 
in Mexico. About twenty-five persons, whose names are ap 
pended, can conduct a conversation in the Tiwa language, and 
there are as many more who understand the idiom but cannot 
converse in it. 

Men: Jose Tolino Piarote, Tomal Graneo, Tebucio Olgin, 
Jose Maria Montoya, Ponciano Olgin, Patricio Perea, Manuel 
Ortega, Sebastiano Duran, Alvino Aquiar, Cristobal Aquiar, Pas. 
qual Piarote, Maleno Marque's, Robel Trujillo, Reyes Trujillo, 
Crecencio Marque's. 

Women: Cornelia Colminero, Andrea Piarote, Estefana Mon 
toya, Valentina Ortega, Augustina Olgin, Patricia Montoya, 
Nestora Piarote, Dolores Graneo, Andrea Marques, Juana Duran, 
Juana Graneo. 


The Tiwa of Ysleta still retain a survival of their tribal organ 
ization, which is set forth in two documents drawn up before a 
notary, Dr Wahl, a few years ago. These documents, formally 
signed and sealed, are written in Spanish. The author obtained 
a copy, a free translation of which follows : 

Pueblo of San Antonio de Ysleta, Texas, January 6, 1895. 

" We, the undersigned, comprising natives, have assembled for the 
purpose of making the following regulations, and complying with those 
duties which our ancestors observed and which we wish to transmit to 
our children. 

" We solemnly bind ourselves, in the first place, to celebrate in the 
best manner we are able, the festival of our patron, Saint Anthony. 

" In the second place, we bind ourselves to respect the native au 
thorities which we ourselves nominate and elect, and also to submit to 
such punishment as the same native authorities may impose, without 
complaint or appeal to any other authority regarding matters, personal 
jor domestic, pertaining to us, without prejudice to the general laws of 
the remaining citizens. 

" In the third place, we decree that every failure to respect our na 
tive authorities shall be punished, for the first offense, with twenty 


hours' arrest ; leaving the punishment, however, to the prudence of 
the same native authorities, should the same person repeat his offense. 
That this regulation may have force and authority, all desirous of doing 
so have freely affixed their signatures." 

This first document closes with the signatures of the Indians, 
all in the same handwriting, and the notary's acknowledgment of 
the transaction. The second document, signed and sealed before 
the same notary, enumerates the duties of the officers. Freely 
translated it is as follows : 

Duties of the Cacique. 

" First Duty : Every year, on New Year's eve, the Cacique Major 
shall assemble all his people and advise the meeting to nominate native 
authorities to hold power for the forthcoming year. The same Cacique 
Major shall give the badges of office in the following order : To the 
Governor, to the Lieutenant-Governor, to the Alguacil, to the Capitan 
Major, to the four subordinate Capitans. Indeed all these officials are 
subject to the Cacique, as likewise all sons of the pueblo of San Anto 
nio, according to the laws and conditions of the tribe. This dependence 
extends to the Cacique Major to look after his life and the maintenance 
of his family. 

Duties of the Lieutenant-Cacique. 

"The Lieutenant-Cacique shall exercise the same functions and act 
with the same powers as those above stipulated in case he occupy the 
position of the Cacique Major. 

Duties of the Governor. 

"This officer, with the badge of his office in his hand as a symbol 
of administering justice, represents a Justice of the Peace in minor 
matters, such as civil offenses ; he shall punish lack of respect to the 
sons of the pueblo of San Antonio, and shall give permission for cus 
tomary dances which are lawfully permitted to the sons of the tribe. 

In addition, the Governor is requested to see that fathers of families 
comply with the sacred duty of teaching the Christian doctrine to their 
sons, and of celebrating annually the festival of our patron, San Anto 
nio. Lastly, the Governor shall see to it that the sons of the tribe per 
form, in such manner as may be possible, the marriages and funerals of 
the natives. 

" In conformity with the third clause the Governor has not authority 
to impose punishment exceeding three days in prison." 


Lieutenant- Governor. 

"The Lieutenant- Governor is clothed with the same power as the 
Governor when the duties of the Governor devolve on him." 

Duties of the Capitan Major and the' Subordinate Capitans. 

" To direct the dances in the public plaza and to preserve order 
during the dance ; also to well regulate everything pertaining to hunts 
of deer, rabbits, and hares, but always after consultation with, and noti 
fication of such diversions to, the Cacique Major, who shall never permit 
them on Sunday or on those days when they are obliged to hear the 
holy mass as in the Christian faith universal. 

" Regarding the dances, it is recognized that they are permitted on 
the following days only : Christmas, St Anthony's, St John's, St Peter's, 
St James', St Ann's, and St Andrew's (if the day does not fall at the 
time of the hunt). 

" Lastly, it is the duty of the Capitan Major, aided by his subordi 
nates, to remove from the pueblo of San Antonio every kind of witch 
craft and belief contrary to our Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman 
religion. No son of the Pueblo of San Antonio is obliged to accept, 
for example, if so commanded, any sorcery or false belief. It is the 
duty of all who follow the regulations of the sons of the Pueblo of San 
Antonio to sign this enactment. On the other hand, those who do not 
wish to sign it, by the same wish do not regard themselves as sons of 
San Antonio." 

This second document is signed by the same persons as the 
former, and may be regarded as a constitution of the Tiwa of 
Ysleta. It embodies certain aboriginal customs, but it is practi 
cally of modern character and origin. 

The present Indian officers of Ysleta are as follows : 

Title Native Title Spanish Name 

Cacique, Aikamede, Jose" Tolino Piarote. 

Governor, Tuwatabode, Mariano Manero. 

Lieutenant- Governor, Felipe Cruz, 

War Captain, Wilawekamede. Tomal Graneo, 

Subordinate Captains : Bias Cominero, 

Bias Graneo, 
Cristobal Aquiar, 
Aniseto Graneo. 



Each of the chief officials above mentioned has a baton, or 
staff of office, known as a kikawee? which is held in such high 
esteem that the cacique spoke of his as " mother," which reminds 
one of the reverence paid by the Hopi to their so-called tiponi. 
The author has examined the staffs of the cacique, governor, and 
lieutenant-governor, finding them to be similar ; and he has been 
told that those of the remaining officers have the same general 
form. They are all said to be old, and to have been in possession 
of the tribe from the time the pueblo was settled ; but such asser 
tion is hardly borne out by close examination. 

The cacique's staff of office consists of a baton the length of 
the forearm and diameter of an ordinary walking-cane. It is 
made of black wood, and is provided with a silver head and two 
metal tips, one inside the other. There is a silver cross set in the 
head, and midway of its length is a hole in which a thong is tied 
by which it may be extended. The governor's baton is like that 
of the cacique, except that it is made of chestnut-colored wood. 
The lieutenant-governor's baton is black : it was broken but has 
been mended with sinew. These badges, as referred to in the 
documents setting forth the duties of the officers, are insignia of 
rank and are used as symbols in elections, dances, and races. 


The most interesting survivals of the old pagan ceremonies of 
the Tiwa of Ysleta are the dances which are performed in front 
of the church at the celebration of the festival of their patron, 
St Anthony, at Christmas, and on the days of St John, St 
Andrew, St Peter, and St James, as mentioned in the document 
above given. These dances differ but little from the secular 
dances, or bailes, which occur in winter and at other times. 

1 The church is called kikawee-missatu, signifying " house containing sacred ob 
jects of the mass," a compound of Tiwa and Spanish in which appears the name of the 
chieftain's staff. 

AM. ANTH. N. S., 45 


Shidfiird, the Rattle Dance ' 

This dance, which occurs after mass in the festival of the 
patron saint, is one of the most important of their ceremonies. 
It consists of two parts 2 the first with two male and two female 
participants, the other with many men who carry rattles from 
which it takes its Tiwa name. 

These dances are first performed in the old cemetery before 
the church, after which the dancers visit in turn the houses of the 
majordomo, Manuel Otero, George Piarote, and Patricio Perea. 
It closes with a feast at the house of the majordomo, after which 
all return to the church. 

Newafiird, the Mask Dance 3 

The dance in which two men are masked is celebrated on 
Christmas afternoon and is sometimes called Baile de Tortuga 
from the turtle-shell rattle employed. A drum is used in this 
dance, and the men carry gourd-rattles in their hands. The dance 
is first performed before the church, and then in the houses of the 
cacique, governor, lieutenant-governor, sheriff (capitan de guerrd), 
and other officers, on the three following days. It is danced on 
the fourth day by children, who imitate their elders. 4 The two 
participants wear masks, and one of them represents a male, the 
other a female personage. The mask of the latter is made of 
buffalo-skin and is painted red and yellow. These men are 
called abuelos (Spanish, " grandfathers," " ancestors "), and they 
function as clowns, frightening little children. A little girl, to 
whom the author showed the mask, called it a coco, a Spanish 
term for " bogy." 

Poafiird, the Red Pigment Dance 5 

This dance, which occurs on the festival of St John, was thus 
described to the author by the cacique : Twelve women, forming 

1 Skid, " rattle." 8 The former called Shoposane ; the latter, Shidfurd. 

3 Newa-de, " mask." 

4 The Hopi children also have a masked dance in imitation of their elders. 
8 Poaputd, red pigment. 


two lines, stand facing each other, and between them passes another, 
singing " Ha-wi-na-a-e ! " In this festival, food and other stuffs 
are thrown to the spectators. One of the women wears two 
feathers in her hair. The dance lasts one day and is called the 
Baile de la Flecha, The same song, " Ha-wi-na-a-e" ' is sung in 
the Hopi harvest festival, when food and other objects are also 
thrown to spectators. 

Kufiira, the Scalp Dance 

In this old war dance, which is no longer celebrated, both men 
and women formed a ring around one of their number a women 
who held aloft a scalp tied to a stick. A warrior danced beside 
her, and at the close of the dance ran to the river and plunged his 
head under the water four times. 


This dance occurs during the time of the carnival, and in it 
the participants are divided into two parties, each having a drum. 
It takes place in the houses of the cacique and other Indians. 

Nakupura, the House Dance * 

While the author was at Ysleta, several secular dances were 
performed by the Indians in one or another of their houses. 
These dances were characteristically aboriginal and closely re 
sembled those celebrated on festival days before the church. 
Permission for them is obtained from the governor, who, in fact, 
gave one of those witnessed by the author in his own house. 
The dance began about 9 oclock, but for some time before that 
hour a young man sat at the entrance to the house, violently 
beating a drum made of an earthen jar, and singing a song with 
monosyllabic words. Later this youth went inside, where he 
was joined by other singers, forming a chorus. Several of his 
companions clapped their hands in time with the songs, as in 
certain characteristic Spanish dances. 

1 The Hopi, who call this harvest festival ffowinakwi, undoubtedly derived it, as 
did the Zufii (who call it Owinahe) from Rio Grande colonists. * Naku, house. 


There were two distinct figures, or rather two kinds of dances,, 
practically differing in the number of participants. In the first 
kind, two persons, a man and a woman, took positions facing: 
each other on opposite sides of the room. These began the 
dance by beating time with their feet, at the same time almost 
imperceptibly swaying their bodies to the beat of the drum. As 
the drumming continued the two dancers approached each other,, 
and the man put first one hand, then the other, on the woman's 
shoulder, at the same time dancing with a sort of shuffle, like 
that of the Bison dance at Hano. Spectators and those not 
taking part in this dance were seated about the room. 

Several men and as many women participated in the second 
figure of the dance. Two lines, one of men, the other of women,, 
faced each other and opened the dance with slight movements of 
their bodies. Both lines then turned, faced the drummer, and 
marched around the room to the opposite side, as in the well- 
known "Virginia reel." The step, song, and drum accompani 
ment recall the solemn religious Katcina dance of the Pueblos,, 
but, unlike them, is secular and accompanied with merriment. 

FOOT-RACE {Kivekwewehirn) 

The Ysletefios have a foot-race strictly comparable with that 
of their northern kindred. It occurs at midday, on Palm Sunday,, 
and in it the contestants divide into two groups of about half a 
dozen men each, distinguished by facial painting. The course is 
from the house of the cacique, past the church, and along the 
main street. The cacique stands at the place of starting, holding: 
a bow and arrow, and calls out three times. First he shouts, 
" We-va ! " when all get ready ; the second signal is " We-cho ! " 
when he draws the bow fitted with an arrow; the third signal 
is " Pa-cho-win ! " when he shoots the arrow in the direction of 
the course, and the runners start. 1 

1 The words used by the cacique are apparently those for " one, two, three," re 
spectively. The numerals and the method of formation of the larger numbers may be 
seen by a study of the following: One, wima ; two, wisi ; three, pacha-win ; four, 


In awarding the prizes, the cacique receives the first prize 
and the winners the second ; but other participants are also re 
warded. The object of the race, they say, is for rain, and the 
shooting of the arrow a symbolic act to aid the runners as well as 
to indicate the course. 

RABBIT-HUNT (Sktaito) 

Both the Tiwa of Ysleta and the Piros at Senecu still have 
rabbit-hunts in which aboriginal elements survive. The war-chief 
is leader of the hunts, but permission for them is always asked of 
the cacique or the governor. The hunters having assembled in 
the field, a fire is first built and a section of country surrounded 
by the huntsmen. The men, forming a ring, close in, shouting 
" Hotcha-pe-we-a-newa ! " at the same time killing the rabbits with 
sticks and other weapons. 

When the hunters return home with their rabbits, the women 
rush out to meet them and to seize the game. If, as sometimes 
happens, two women grasp the same rabbit, the war-chief divides 
it between them. In old times, they say, the dead rabbit was 
sprinkled with sacred meal (tliika), which, however, is not now 
made or used in Ysleta. 


Ysleta affords a good opportunity for the collection of 
material for a knowledge of the Tiwa idiom ; but such work 
must be done at once, as a speaking knowledge of this variant, if 
such it be, of the Tiwa, will probably not survive the present 
generation. No Ysleta child can at present speak the language, 
and those adults who can converse in it are old men and women. 
It is imperative that philological studies among these people be 
made at once, for it will soon be too late. fiflntrc-t Library 

The special interest attached to a study of the Ysleta Tiwa is, 
of course, for comparison with the Tiwa of the pueblos of Sandia 

iviran; five, pantoiva ; six, matle ; seven, weede ; eight, whang; nine, tetehem ; ten, 
te ; eleven, tewin ; twelve, tewisi ; twenty, wete ; twenty-five, -wete-pantowa ; thirty, 
pacho-ate ; forty, wiante ; fifty, pantoate ; one-hundred, shute. 


and Isleta in New Mexico. It has been known that the idiom of the 
pueblos of Taos and Picuris hasTiwan affinities, but the Ysletefios 
say that it is very different from their language. Several years ago 
an old man went from Taos to Ysleta to live, but he later settled 
in Senecu, where he died recently. His speech was incompre 
hensible, his native tongue differing greatly from that spoken at 
Ysleta. Some of the southern Tiwa have visited Isleta, New 
Mexico, and claim, as one would expect, that the language of 
the two pueblos is practically identical, differing only in minor 
details. During his visit to Ysleta, the author recorded a con 
siderable Tiwa vocabulary, which he hopes later to compare with 
the northern Tiwa. These words were obtained during several 
councils with the chiefs, which generally lasted late into the 
afternoon, when the angelus sounded from the bell-tower of the 
neighboring church. At the close of these councils, the cacique, 
Piarote, repeated a long Tiwa formula, or prayer, with which 
other Indians were familiar. It would be interesting for one who 
seriously takes up the linguistics of the Ysleteftos to transcribe this 
prayer as a specimen of their language. All these Indians 
at present speak " Spanish," but when together the old men con 
verse in their native language. The more aged, in fact a major 
ity of the adults, can neither speak English nor write their own 

There still remain in Ysleta survivals of the former clan sys 
tem of the Tiwa, in which the descent was matriarchal. All have 
Spanish baptismal names, and a few have Tiwa names. They 
assert that when the latter were given them, an aboriginal rite in 
which water was used was performed. The Tiwa name of Piarote, 
the cacique, is Shiu-tusan (Eagle-tusan) ; the governor, Mariano, 
Yekap-tusan (Corntassel - tusan). Another man is called Yen- 
tusan (Mountain - tusan) ; and still another, Thiiwirpo-tusan 
None of the children now have Tiwa names. 

1 The root thur, meaning sun, occurs in thiisaina, sunrise ; tathuakin, sunset. 
Apparently the idiom of Ysleta differs somewhat from that of their kindred in Isleta 


The YsUu.Tivta*ual very suggestive folktales, to 


which the aJutfto fian bftltf'rffcfior at*, tfiis *t5re- He listened to 

* ' < 

several, but it was said that there were many more, all of 
which are well worth collecting. They retain traditions of the 
Shipapu or Shlpapunai, the ancestral opening in the earth out of 
which the races of men originally emerged, and they declare it 
to be a lake in the far north. 

So far as their clothing is concerned, it is impossible to dis 
tinguish the men and women of Ysleta from their Mexican 
neighbors ; even the want of a beard not being always a dis 
tinguishing trait among the men. One man was seen with long 
hair, but it was not tied in the usual Pueblo fashion. Several 
wore moccasins, and one a leather wrist-guard. 

The houses are not characteristic, and exteriorly there is 
nothing in the present appearance of the village to lead one to 
suspect that it was once a purely Indian pueblo or that at present 
any people of Indian blood inhabited it. 

One or two old Pueblo customs are still kept up by the 
Ysleta Tiwa. They know how to use the fire-drill and the fire- 
stick (fiikurisla), and how to kindle fire with them, although 
they generally use flint-and-steel or matches. Of their weapons 
several bows and arrows were shown the author, and he has also 
seen rabbit-sticks, a lance, and a drum of aboriginal manufacture. 
One or two women know how to make paper-bread, which they 
call pahnshave? and to color it into various tints. They at times 
grind corn (ae) on metates which have an ancient appearance, 
and one of the old women said that this custom was common in 
her childhood. She added that while the women were thus at 
work over a mealing-stone the men sang, beating a drum or 
folded sheep-skin. A diligent search for aboriginal pottery in 
Ysleta was not successful ; a few old pieces were found, but they 

and Sandia, as would be expected from the two centuries of separation. If the ter 
mination lusan means people, or clan, its phonetic relation to " Tusayan " is highly 

1 Apparently related to the Spanish pan. 

[N. s., 4, 1902 

were very rude and probably Mexican.; nevertheless, .ajl said that 

. , 

in former times the T-iwa 'women We5 > e**eooo> 6ottetfe and made 

.~-l .<=% ~t 

black ware like that of the Santa Clara Indians. 


The survivors of the Piros live in the hamlets of Socorro and 
Senecu, the former situated in Texas, about three miles below 
Ysleta, and the latter on the opposite or right bank of the Rio 
Grande, about six miles from Juarez, in Mexico. The settle 
ment at Socorro ' is small, and while there are at present only a 
few families that claim to be of Indian blood, none of them speak 
the Piros idiom. They have no tribal organization, and the town 
is thoroughly Mexicanized. 

It is commonly said in Ysleta that the Indians of Socorro are 
descended from Piros and other tribes, and that their ancestors 
spoke differently from the Tiwa, in fact more like the Senecu 
people. Piarote, the Ysleta cacique, states that in his youth the 
irrigation ditch of Socorro was called " acequia de los Piros," im 
plying that Piros Indians were settled in this pueblo in old times. 
The fact that the native language has vanished, and that Jemez 
and Tanos Indians were among those colonized there, partially 
explains the total disappearance of their language. The author 
visited one or two old men who claimed to be pure Indians, but 
they could utter not a word of Piros, and one of them apologeti 
cally said that even his father was totally ignorant of any language 
but Spanish. 2 


The pueblo of Senecu, 3 in which the Piros who once lived in 
New Mexico were colonized at the close of the seventeenth cen 
tury, is situated in Chihuahua, about six miles from Juarez, on 

1 The Ysletefios speak of Socorro in New Mexico as Socorrito, " Little Socorro." 
3 Later information reached the author that there is an old man living near 

Socorro who speaks the Piros dialect. 

3 The word Senecti is of Piros origin, and was formerly applied to a New Mexican 

pueblo where San Antonio now stands. 


the right bank of the Rio Grande. It consists of a small cluster 
of adobe houses, in the midst of which rises an old church con 
taining many ancient santos, a few old paintings, and interesting 
altar paraphernalia. 

The majority of the Piros live in or near Senecu. They pos 
sess a tribal organization, with a cacique (who is also custodian of 
the church), a governor, a war-chief, and subordinate officials 
identical with those of Ysleta. 

The following names of Piros Indians were obtained at Senecu : 
Augustin Allegro (cacique), Pablo Allegro (governor), Victoriano 
Pedraza (War-chief), Casimera Pedraza, Valentin Gonzales, Jose 
Maria Podraqua, Vicente Paiz, Caspio Paiz, Dolores Allejo, Juan 

Delgado, Nicasio Alban, Tomas Ortiz, Ortiz, Toredo 

Podraqua. In addition to these there are many women whose 
names were not recorded, making in Senecu fully fifty persons 
twho may be called Piros Indians. 

The Senecu Piros perform dances in the open space before 
the church building, and are accompanied by a drum and rattles. 
They are practically secularized pagan dances which have lost all 
their aboriginal significance. These occur after mass on the festi 
val of their patron, St Anthony, at Christmas, and on the festivals 
of St John, St Peter, St Ann, and others. 

The old drum used in these processions and dances is still 
preserved in one of the houses not far from the church. It con 
sists of a hollow log with a piece of rawhide stretched over each 
end, closely resembling those used for the same purpose by the 
Pueblos higher up the Rio Grande. The drum employed in their 
secular dances, of which they have many, consists of a jar with 
skin stretched over the top. 

The author saw in the village several hand rattles and one or 
two bows and arrows. It was not learned whether masks were 
worn in their dances, inquiry sufficient to decide that point not 
being pursued. The Senecu Indians have rabbit-hunts and foot 
races similar to those of other Pueblos. 


The Piros language, as a means of conversation, has practi 
cally disappeared, as no one at Senecu or Socorro now converses 
in it ; but there are still remembered many words which, if 
recorded, would form a larger vocabulary than any known to 
exist. 1 There may be other Piros, living in other pueblos, who 
know more of the language than do the Senecu people. The 
governor of Senecu claims that there are Piros living at a place 
in Mexico called Ajotitlan, but the author does not know the 
situation of the settlement. 

The writer visited the church of San Lorenzo, about two 
miles from Senecu, but was not successful in finding ethnological 
traces of the Sumas. The present church building is a new one, 
the fourth of its name, the others, at least the last, the Ysleteflos 
declare, having been destroyed by freshets. 

An instructive survival of Indian customs at San Lorenzo is a 
dance which occurs before the church, when a masked personage, 
called Malinche, appears. Malinche is a common modern name 
of a masked dancer, occurring throughout the Nahua region of 
Mexico, and its existence at San Lorenzo, as well as in some of 
the New Mexican pueblos, is significant. About the middle 
of November fires were kindled at night on the hills near El Paso 
and Juarez. The explanation given the author was that these 
fires were to guide Moctezuma, a Messiah, who, folklore has it, 
will come down the Rio Grande and cross the river at this point. 

It is suspected that there may still be traces of Suma blood, 
and perhaps survivals of their customs, at Samalayuca, in Chihua 
hua, where these Indians were early colonized, but he was not 
able to visit that place. No studies were made of the survivors 
of the Mansos near Juarez. 

The treatment adopted in the preceding pages is intended to 
be ethnological rather than historical. Fortunately these pueblos 

1 The Bureau of American Ethnology has a small vocabulary of Piros words 
recorded by John Russell Bartlett. 


have been studied from both these aspects by Bandelier ' to 
whose valuable researches the writer refers with great respect. 
As there still remain many important data to be gathered re 
garding both the history and the ethnology of the El Paso 
pueblos, the author hopes that in these pages he has done some 
thing to attract attention to the immediate necessity of additional 
studies in this locality. 

1 Final Report ; Archaeological Institute of America, Amer. ser. , ill. 

tTbc ftnfcftcrbocfter press, Hew