The Pueblos are a modest people—polite, well behaved, and noted for mildness of manner. Ruth Benedict points out that "the southwest pueblos are ... Apollonian, and in the consistency with which they pursue the proper valuations of the Apollonian they contrast with very nearly the
whole of aboriginal America; they possess in a small area islanded in the midst of predominantly Dionysian cultures an ethos distinguished by sobriety, by its distrust of excess, that minimizes to the last possible vanishing point any challenging or dangerous experiences. They have a religion of fertility without orgy. They have abjured torture. They indulge in no wholesale destruction of property at death. They have never made or bought intoxicating liquors in the fashion of other tribes about them, and they have never given themselves up to the use of drugs. They have even stripped sex of its mystic danger. They allow to the individual no disruptive role in their social order."
Accompanying this sobriety and evenness there is a pronounced secretiveness which makes it almost impossible to disentangle their extraordinarily complex religious and ceremonial life. For centuries they have successfully evaded the curious and the inquiring. Even the Catholic friars who came up from Mexico to establish religious centers and to 'convert the heathen' were able to scratch only the surface of their ceremonial system, and instead of bringing salvation to the 'heathen' they found in the end that there remained only the same Indian rite clothed superficially in Catholic custom. The saints' days are celebrated, to be sure, on dates stipulated by the Church, and these celebrations may include the usual Mass and church observances, followed by general festivity; but the dance, the native prayer and worship, the fundamental aspect of Pueblo religion is as Indian today as it was before Coronado's visit in 1540.