New Mexico is home to 19 pueblos, five of which are located near Santa Fe.
The five Pueblos located closest to Santa Fe are Tesuque, San Ildefonso, Pojoaque, Nambé, and Santo Domingo. The Pueblos are sovereign nations and the oldest tribal communities in the United States, remaining on their original homelands despite loss of land to colonization by the Spanish, Mexican and American governments. More indigenous people live on their original land in northern New Mexico than do in the entire east of the Mississippi. Following are brief insights of each.
The Tesuque Pueblo is believed to have been inhabited as far back as 1200 AD. It is home to Camel Rock, a historic landmark due to its unique formation.
The people of the San Ildefonso Pueblo used to live in what is today Bandelier National Monument, but a serious drought during the 14th century forced the people to move to the Rio Grande Valley.
The Pojoaque Pueblo is the smallest of the pueblos, with only 300 inhabitants, but it is one of the most economically prosperous due in part to its operation of Cities of Gold Hotel & Casino and the Buffalo Thunder Resort & Casino.
Nambé is located 15 miles north of Santa Fe at the foot of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains.
The Santo Domingo Pueblo is famous for its jewelry-making method known as "liquid silver." The pueblo’s silver and turquoise jewelry is sold under the portal at the Palace of the Governors.
When visiting a Pueblo, keep in mind that the public dances performed on Feast Days are ceremonies and not put on for tourists. Refrain from asking questions or interrupting, and remember that all Pueblos restrict photography.
Photo by Larry Lamsa