Tewa is a
Tanoan language Tanoan , also Kiowa–Tanoan or Tanoan–Kiowa, is a family of languages spoken by indigenous peoples in present-day New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Most of the languages – Tiwa languages, Tiwa (Taos, Picuris, Southern Tiwa), Tewa ...
spoken by
Pueblo people The Puebloans or Pueblo peoples, are Native Americans in the Southwestern United States who share common agricultural, material, and religious practices. Pueblo, which means "village" in Spanish, was a term originating with the Colonial Spanis ...
, mostly in the
Rio Grande The Rio Grande ( and ), known in Mexico as the Río Bravo del Norte and as the Río Bravo, is one of the principal river A river is a natural flowing watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, sea, lake or another r ...

Rio Grande
valley in
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Greater Albuquerque , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English English usually refer ...

New Mexico
north of
Santa Fe
Santa Fe
, and in
Arizona Arizona ( ; nv, Hoozdo Hahoodzo ; ood, Alĭ ṣonak) is a U.S. state, state in the Southwestern United States, Southwestern region of the United States. It is also usually considered part of the Mountain States, Mountain states. It is th ...

. It is also known as Tano, or (archaic) Tée-wah.

Dialects and usage

The 1980 census counted 1,298 speakers, almost all of whom are bilingual in English. Each pueblo or reservation where it is spoken has a dialect: * Nambe Pueblo: 50 speakers (1980); 34 speakers (2004) *
Pojoaque Pueblo Pojoaque (; Tewa language, Tewa: P'osuwaege Owingeh ’òhsũ̀wæ̃̀gè ʔówîŋgè, Po’su wae geh, which translates to “water gathering place”, is a census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, Santa Fe County, New Me ...
: 25 speakers (1980) *
San Ildefonso Pueblo San Ildefonso Pueblo (Tewa The Tewa are a linguistic group of Pueblo In the Southwestern United States The Southwestern United States, also known as the American Southwest or simply the Southwest, is a geographic and cultural list o ...

San Ildefonso Pueblo
(''P'ohwhóge Owingeh''): 349 speakers *
Ohkay Owingeh Ohkay Owingeh (Tewa language, Tewa: ), known by its Spanish name as San Juan de los Caballeros from 1589 to 2005, is a pueblo and census-designated place (CDP) in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, Rio Arriba County, New Mexico. Ohkay Owingeh is also ...
: 495 speakers (1980) *
Santa Clara Pueblo Santa Clara Pueblo (in Tewa language, Tewa: Kha'po Owingeh ɑ̀ʔp’òː ʔówîŋgè ″Singing Water Village″, also known as ″Village of Wild Roses″ is a census-designated place (CDP) in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, Rio Arriba Count ...
: 207 speakers (1980) *
Tesuque Pueblo Tesuque (Tewa language, Tewa: Tetsuge Owingeh ) is a census-designated place (CDP) in Santa Fe County, New Mexico, Santa Fe County, New Mexico, United States. It is part of the Santa Fe, New Mexico, Metropolitan Statistical Area. The population w ...

Tesuque Pueblo
: 172 speakers (1980) As of 2012, Tewa is defined as "severely endangered" in New Mexico by UNESCO. In the names "Pojoaque" and "Tesuque", the element spelled "que" (pronounced something like in Tewa, or in English) is Tewa for "place". Tewa can be written with the
Latin script Latin script, also known as Roman script, is an alphabetic An alphabet is a standardized set of basic written symbols A symbol is a mark, sign, or word In linguistics, a word of a spoken language can be defined as the smallest sequ ...

Latin script
; this is occasionally used for such purposes as signs (''Be-pu-wa-ve'', "Welcome", or ''sen-ge-de-ho'', "Bye"). Because alphabet systems have been developed in the different pueblos, Tewa has a variety of orthographies rather than a single standardized alphabet. The written form of the language is not as ubiquitous as in languages such as
Cherokee The Cherokee (; chr, ᎠᏂᏴᏫᏯᎢ, translit=Aniyvwiyaʔi or Anigiduwagi, or chr, ᏣᎳᎩ, links=no, translit=Tsalagi) are one of the indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands Indigenous peoples of the Southeastern Woodlands, ...
Navajo The Navajo (; British English: Navaho; nv, Diné or ') are a Native American people Native Americans, also known as American Indians, First Americans, Indigenous Americans and #Terminology differences, other terms, are the Indigenous peop ...
, because some Tewa speakers feel that the language should be passed on through the
oral tradition Oral tradition, or oral lore, is a form of human communication Human communication, or anthroposemiotics, is the field dedicated to understanding how human Humans (''Homo sapiens'') are the most populous and widespread species of prima ...
. The Tewa language was a spoken language through the 1960s; digital language documentation efforts were underway as of 1995.


The phonemes of Rio Grande Tewa are as follows:



Language revitalization

Esther Martinez Esther Martinez also known as Estefanita Martinez (1912 – September 16, 2006) was a linguistics, linguist and storyteller for the Tewa people, Tewa people of New Mexico. Martinez was given the Tewa language, Tewa name P’oe Tsáwä (meani ...
, who lived to be 94 years old, was nationally known for her commitment to preserving the Tewa language. Her San Juan Pueblo Tewa Dictionary was published in 1982. The Esther Martinez Native American Languages Preservation Act is named for her, and as of Sept. 15, 2012, members of the New Mexico congressional delegation have introduced legislation to extend the program for another five years. Tewa language programs are available for children in most of the Tewa-speaking pueblos. The Santa Clara Pueblo Tewa Language Revitalization Program also sponsors cultural activities, such as visiting Crow Canyon. Children's stories in Tewa have been digitized by the University of New Mexico, and are available online. A 2012 documentary film, "The Young Ancestors", follows a group of teenagers from
Santa Fe Preparatory School Santa Fe Preparatory School is a private school located in Santa Fe (New Mexico), Santa Fe, New Mexico The school provides grades 7-12 with an enrollment of 340 students. It was founded in February 1961. History The school was founded in Febru ...
as they learn the Tewa language in a self-study program with the help of a mentor, seventh grade literature teacher Laura Kaye Eagles.


* Harrington, John P. (1910)
A brief description of the Tewa language
''American Anthropologist'', ''12'', 497-504. * Speirs, Randall. (1966). ''Some aspects of the structure of Rio Grande Tewa''. (Doctoral dissertation, SUNY Buffalo). * Martinez, Esther. (1982). San Juan Pueblo Tewa Dictionary. San Juan Pueblo Bilingual Program, San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico.

Further reading

* * * * * Ortman, Scott G. (2012) ''Winds from the North: Tewa Origins and Historical Anthropology''. .

External links

Tano/Tewa Indian Language

OLAC resources in and about the Tewa language

Tewa Language-SantaFedia

New Testament in Tewa

Research paper on Tewa
{{Tanoan languages Tanoan languages Indigenous languages of New Mexico Indigenous languages of Arizona Indigenous languages of the Southwestern United States Indigenous languages of the North American Southwest Tewa