The Pueblo peoples emerged from the ancient Anasazi agricultural culture. Early Spanish explorers named the Pueblo after the Spanish word for "town"; unlike many nearby tribes, the Pueblo lived in permanent settlements. Pueblo ancestry in the Colorado basin dates back to at least 1000 B.C.
The Pueblo descend from the Anasazi, a culture known for creating permanent cliff towns above the valleys in which they cultivated their crops. Ancestors of the Anasazi lived in the Colorado basin for many years before agriculture spread to the area from Mesoamerican civilizations to the south. The Anasazi name comes from the Navajo word meaning "enemy ancestors" and some archaeologists now refer to the culture as the Ancient Pueblo instead.
During the 13th century the Ancient Pueblo abandoned most cliff towns. Archaeologists theorize a combination of factors, such as drought leading to religious disillusionment and civil war.
When encountered by the Spanish explorer Vásquez Coronado in the 1540s, there existed more than 90 Pueblo groups across New Mexico and Arizona, living in stone or adobe towns, and growing corn, squash and beans. Relations between the Spanish and the Pueblo deteriorated over time as the Spanish demanded tribute and even took women by force.
As of 2015, there exist 21 Pueblo groups, mostly in northern New Mexico. The Pueblo split into various cultural subsets by language and religious differences dating to before European contact. Many Pueblo also incorporate aspects of Christianity into their cultures following centuries of European pressure.