PUEBLO SOCIETIES IN THE HERITAGE AREA
PUEBLO SOCIETIES IN THE HERITAGE AREA
1. The Puye Ruins in Rio Arriba County preserves one of the largest of the prehistoric Indian settlements on the Pajarito Plateau. The settlement was established in the late 1200s or early 1300s and abandoned by about 1600. The ruins, on the ancestral site of Santa Clara Pueblo, show a variety of architectural forms and building techniques.
2. Mesa Prieta is an elongated mesa situated above the confluence of the Río Grande and the Río Chama and extending north from Ohkay Owingeh to the village of Embudo, covering 36 square miles. Most of the land is privately owned, but it contains as many as 50,000 petroglyphs and other archaeological features that provide a record of area history dating from the Archaic period hunter-gatherers and early Puebloans, and extending to the current period. The mesa is considered a sacred place. The rock art collection is a unique record of impressions by multiple cultures, including Native, Hispanic, and Anglo visitors. The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project is a private non-profit community venture to record and preserve these stone images and the terrain and to provide education to visitors and local schools through tours, internships, and summer programs.
3. Pueblos are ancestral lands occupied for hundreds of years before the coming of the Spanish. Contemporary Pueblo people are descendants of the Ancestral Puebloans who lived throughout the Heritage Area. Each pueblo operates under its own government and establishes all rules and regulations for its own individual village. Tribal lands are open to the public at scheduled times for tours or attendance at feast days and dances.
Four of the six Tewa pueblos are listed on the National Register of Historic Places: Nambé, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, and Tesuque. Visitors are invited to attend many ceremonies and religious events at the pueblos, such as the June Feast Day at Santa Clara and the January Deer Dance at San Ildefonso. On feast days, it is courteous to accept an invitation to enter a Pueblo home to eat.
The Nambe Pueblo was a primary cultural and religious center at the time of the arrival of Spanish colonists. The name means “People of the Round Earth.” San Ildefonso Pueblo is famous for its matte and polished black-on-black pottery popularized in the early 20th century by Maria and Julian Martinez. Santa Clara Pueblo offers tours of the prehistoric cliff dwellings of Puye, as well as sightseeing, fishing and camping in the nearby canyon. The Tesuque Pueblo (pronounced Teh-sue-kay) is one of the most traditional of the Tewa-speaking pueblos in observing ceremonies and preserving culture. Tesuque dances are known for the excellence of the costumes and the authenticity of the execution of dances and rituals.
Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo (formerly San Juan Pueblo) has a well-known art center, the Oke Owinge Arts & Crafts Cooperative, where visitors may watch many of the artisans working in a variety of art forms. At the Pojoaque Pueblo (pronounced Po-hwa-kay), the Poeh Museum exhibits Pojoaque cultural history. In the nearby community of Pojoaque is the gallery of well-known pottery artist Roxanne Swentzell. At the annual Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Arts & Crafts Show, Indian artists themselves organize and operate the event.
4. Backed by mountains and facing a large plaza, Taos Pueblo is a National Historic Landmark and also a World Heritage Site. Taos has borrowed from Anglo- and Spanish-American cultures over centuries of contact, while retaining its cultural integrity and identity as a community. The pueblo provides daily guided tours for visitors. Its San Geronimo Feast Day in September features Buffalo, Comanche and Corn Dances, in addition to a trade fair, ceremonial foot races, and a pole climb. Picurís Pueblo (pronounced Pee-coo-reese) is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Picurís craftsmen produce pottery different from most Pueblo art; it is strictly utilitarian and without ornament.