The American Indians of the Laguna Pueblo

The People of the Laguna Pueblo, call themselves the Kawaik, speak a language isolate known as Western Keresan. The Keresan (/kəˈriːsən/), or Keres (/ˈkɛərɨs/), dialect cluster comes from the Keres Pueblo People of New Mexico, including the people of the seven pueblos of Acoma, Cochiti, Laguna, San Felipe, Santa Ana, Santo Domingo, and Zia.

The word of the American Indian has led linguists, or scientists who study language, to try to understand the Native American’s origin and the relationships among the different tribes found throughout the Americas. These researchers use not only the oral tradition’s stories, tales, and recollections, but also the vocabulary, grammar, and specific sounds to trace languages to a distant past.

Interestingly, linguists agree that the Keresan language does not have the same origin as the Kiowa-Tanoan languages spoken by most of New Mexico’s other Pueblo people, making the Kawaik and the others of their dialect clusters unique in the American Southwest. Although the language varies among the seven pueblos, they are mutually intelligible, especially among close neighboring pueblos, and their language and unique culture unites them among their non-Keresan-speaking neighbors.

The Laguna share the Western dialect of Keresan with their neighbors in the Acomo Pueblo. This dialect differs significantly from the Eastern dialect, to the extreme that they have been considered separate languages. Archeologists, not surprisingly, point to many ties between the cultures and history of the two groups. Linguists, though, do not completely agree on the relationship of this language to other Native American languages, and they have separately argued the grouping the Keres speakers with stock of Hokan-Siouan, Wichita, Siouan, Yuchi, Caddoan, Uto-Azteca, and Iroquoian Native Americans.

According to the National Park Service, the ancestors of the Laguna residents occupied the area as far back as 1300 A.D., and, since at least 3000 B.C. people have inhabited the area. The Pueblo People say that they have always been there. This pueblo, located in an area where the Ancestral Pueblo People, from the north, and the Mogollon, from the south, came together, lived as an autonomous, self-governed agricultural society by the time that the Spanish penetrated the American Southwest.

Founded in 1699, the Laguna Pueblo represents a relatively recent member of the New Mexican pueblos. Its name, Laguna, comes from the Spanish diminutive of “lago,” meaning “lake,” so “Laguna” refers to a “little lake,” located on the present-day reservation. The reservation, today, covers about 500,000 acres, 45 miles west of Albuquerque, NM, in the Rio San Jose basin. Six villages, Encinal, Laguna, Mesita, Paguate, Paraje and Seama, comprise most of the Laguna Indian population. The total population of the tribe exceeds 7,000 members

The Laguna host an annual Saint Joseph feast, celebrated on the 19th of March and the 19th of September. The feasts feature handiwork and, traditionally, trade of crops. The modern festivals also feature a carnival and sporting events, particularly baseball games.



Advameg. 2015. Keres Pueblo Indians – Religion and Expressive Culture. Countries and their Cultures. [Online] 2015. [Cited: January 25, 2015.]

Center, Indian Pueblo Cultural. 2007. Laguna Pueblo. Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. [Online] 2007. [Cited: January 25, 2015.]

National Park Service. unknown. Pueblo of Laguna, Laguna, NM. The National Park Service Web Site. [Online] unknown. [Cited: January 25, 2015.]

Native Languages of the Americas. 1998 – 2015. Keres Pueblo Language (Keresan, Queresan, Queres). Native Languages of the Americas. [Online] Native Languages of the Americas, 1998 – 2015. [Cited: January 25, 2015.]

PROEL. 2013. Grupo Keresano. Lenguas del Mundo. [Online] 2013. [Cited: January 25, 2015.]

Wikipedia. 2014. Classification schemes for indigenous languages of the Americas. Wikipedia: The Free Encyclopedia. [Online] 2014. [Cited: January 25, 2015.]