The Jumanos utilized the common Southwest native practice of building pueblos from adobe and mud plaster instrumental in survival in the harsh climate. However, a nomadic branch of the tribe utilized the familiar plains version of the tepee. Before being destroyed by famine and war, the Jumanos built a large culture of over 10,000 people that stretched over vast amounts of land.
The Jumanos were separated into two distinct cultures, a stationary people and a nomadic people. Like most native groups of the Southwest, the stationary Jumanos built pueblos. Digging shallow bases, they used adobe bricks to build foundations covering over 800 square feet. They would use wood to build the walls and roofs and cover in a mud plaster for strength. Adding color, most notably red or yellow, was one of the finishing projects on these single story homes. However, the nomadic Jumano, often lived in the traditional buffalo skin tepee when hunting in the southern Great Plains. Using large timbers placed to a point and then wrapped in buffalo skins, the tepee was instrumental in a nomadic lifestyle.
Located in the Big Bend area of Texas, the Jumanos inhabited a land of cottonwood and abundant fish populations from the Rio Grande and Rio Concho. Much of the area was desert but some Jumanos traversed the southern Great Plains in search of Buffalo. Agriculture was sporadic, sometimes plentiful and sometimes with drought, making the pueblo design a necessity. Corn, beans and squash were the staple crops.
The Jumanos first built the pueblos at the beginning of the second millennium. Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca was the first to make contact with the Jumanos in 1535,who noted the enormity of the communities. Trade was established between the Spanish and various other tribes, the Jumanos often brokering deals between the Europeans and natives. Although occasionally rebelling, the Jumanos were appreciated by the Spanish until the 1660's when widespread famine across the southwest led to war with the Apaches. The Jumanos were essentially wiped out by raids on their pueblo communities, leaving only a few survivors who are believed to have joined the Apache and founded the Kiowa tribes. Others married Spanish settlers.
The Spanish were the first to confront the Jumanos and as such bear the only eye witness accounts available of their culture and practices. Archeology has unveiled how they lived, where they hunted, and agricultural practices, but has failed to delve into the traditions of the people or why there was such a divergent style of housing between the two types of Jumanos. Although evidence does show an interconnectivity between the hunter-gatherers and the agrarian society.
The Jumanos wore tattoos covering their bodies, a fact that shows in various artwork and the decoration of their pueblos. Murals showcasing this adorned rocks surrounding their housing. Creating five distinct pueblo groups, the Jumano structures spanned forty miles of land with over 10,000 people. The pueblos were instrumental in the survival of the people from the hot sun and offered excellent storage of crops and foods.
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