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Native Government
Native American Government

Around A.D. 1000, Pueblo People of the Tiwa language group migrated to the Río Grande Valley and split into the Northern and Southern Tiwa.  By this time systems of formal government and religion had already developed, along with an oral tradition that equaled the written word in its power and effectiveness.  Through oral history, for example, it is known that the All Indian Pueblo Council has existed for centuries, well before its first recorded meeting in 1598 and in response to increasing threats from raiding Indian tribes.

The traditional form of Pueblo government, before 1598, saw each pueblo as having an autonomous government interconnected through the All Indian Pueblo Council.  In addition, each pueblo had a cacique who governed through a functioning arm, the war chief, who enforced rules, regulations and ordinances and served for his entire lifetime.  Organized under the war chief were the war captains and their aides, who were responsible for policing the pueblo and supervising dances and recreational activities.  They were also responsible for reservation land, hunts, and issues related to wild and domestic game.

A second system of government was introduced by Don Juan de Oñate in 1598, and further modified in 1620 by royal Spanish decree to supplement the traditional governing body.  The office of the governor was incorporated into the Pueblo system of government, and it is through this office that the Pueblos have since created strong connections with business and economic communities outside the pueblos.

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