Acoma Pueblo

Trip Start Jan 24, 2009
Trip End Mar 29, 2009

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Flag of United States  , New Mexico
Monday, March 16, 2009

WOW, what a great place!  The Acoma Pueblo is really special.  I was starting to get bummed by missing out on the Taos Pueblo and also seeing how badly the other local Pueblos were kept.  It's disheartening to see how poor or neglected some of these unique cultural sites are.  Acoma was a pleasant surprise.  First of all, the location is unique being on a remote mesa in a secluded dessert valley.  To be fair, the Acoma reservation has a casino which has provided funding to establish a beautiful visitor center and employed all the tribal members.  So many other tribes are less fortunate and the condition of their environment shows it.

The Spanish moved into the area in the 1600's and established a mission at the pueblo.  Like all the pueblos in the region, the Indians resisted the conversion and loss of native practices.  In 1680, the pueblos of the New Mexico region revolted and threw out their Spanish rulers.  For 12 years, the Indians had their freedom but the Spanish eventually returned and regained control.  The Spanish demolished the tribes seven circular ritual Kiva dwellings so the Acoma tribe rebuilt them in secret as square dwellings to disguise them as regular homes and continued to practice their native religion.

The mesa top village does not have have running water, electricity, or sewage.  Only about 20 families live full time in the pueblo, with the majority of tribal members living in modern homes in the balance of the reservation lands.  The tribe is a matriarchal society and all property is owned by the women and lineage is determined through the mothers bloodline.  Many of the members are artisans and the tribe is famous for its pottery.  I got a chance to meet several of the potters and bought a few pieces directly from them out of their homes on the mesa top!

The visitor center and museum has great examples of the tribes pottery through the different eras and famous artists.  One annoying thing is that the tribe is really guarded about photography.  I had to buy a camera permit to take any pictures and had restrictions on what I could photograph.  I had to ask permission of any tribe member to take their picture.  Technically, I wasn't supposed to take any video footage, but I at least waited until I was off the mesa.  (Hope I didn't offend the local deities)  : P

 The tribe takes great pride in their culture and heritage, and it really showed in how well taken care of the Pueblo was.  The environment, geology, and landscape were fantastic.  Add all this together, and you have a real treasure.

Well, it's on to Arizona and the family in Phoenix.  On the way, I want to check out Meteor Crater.  I've seen the crater in so many movies, I have to see it for myself.

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