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New Mexico Pueblos

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One of the primary attractions of New Mexico is its large and diverse collection of American Indian (or, if you prefer, Native American -- both terms are used in the state) pueblos, reservations, artwork, and of course, people. The 19 pueblos are spread across north central, central, and northwest New Mexico.

Understand

Many, but by no means all, of the pueblo communities welcome visitors, usually with some restrictions. Following are some tips if you're planning to see the sights of these communities:

  • Please respect local regulations regarding photography and sketching! Most north-central and central pueblos require would-be photographers and artists to pay for permits issued by the pueblo administration, and some don't allow photography or sketching at all. If the restrictions seem draconian, remember that these are not museum exhibits or theme parks, they're towns and settlements where people live their daily lives.
  • Most of the pueblos and reservations hold ceremonial dances, feasts and sings that welcome visitors, as well as some others of a more private, religious nature at which visitors are unwelcome if not forbidden. Many have succeeded in reconciling their historic religious practices with the dominant Christian (particularly Catholic) practice, and celebrations at Christmas (in some cases extending through much of December), Easter, and the feast day of San Antonio (June) are generally open to visitors.
  • For many residents of some pueblos and reservations, not only is English not the primary daily language, it may not be spoken fluently or at all. Most residents in the "service" sector (i.e., those you'll interact with first) are as fluent in English as their Anglo colleagues in neighboring communities, and there is no reason to speak to them in a patronizing or condescending manner. However, if you venture far from the main tourist centers, you may run into language issues, although you're still odds-on to deal with English speakers. Patience and gestures will overcome many obstacles, but be aware that in certain areas it is considered rude to point with extended fingers. A nod or tip of the head for indicating direction is considered more polite (true among fluent English speakers as well).

Eight Northern Pueblos

Spread across North Central New Mexico, from north to south:

Taos Pueblo

Located just outside the town of Taos and the only pueblo which is also on the UNESCO World Heritage List, Taos is one of the most popular pueblos for tourists due to its strikingly well-preserved multi-story village which looks much the same as it has for hundreds of years.

Picuris Pueblo

The smallest of the pueblos population-wise, Picuris is located in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains between Taos and Española, near the small community of Peñasco.

Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo

Located just north of Española, Ohkay Owingeh (formerly known as San Juan Pueblo) is the headquarters of the Eight Northern Pueblos.

Santa Clara Pueblo

Just south of Española, Santa Clara is perhaps most well known for their unique black and red pottery.

San Ildefonso Pueblo

A short distance south of Española, San Ildefonso is most famous for being the home of Maria Martinez, known for her black-on-black pottery style which has become the norm for San Ildefonso potters.

Pojoaque Pueblo

At Pojoaque you won't find any historic structures due to the pueblo's troubled history, having been abandoned and reestablished a few times since the arrival of Europeans. Pojoaque is more of a stop-over between Santa Fe and Española these days, with a casino, resort, and truck stop.

Nambé Pueblo

Just east of Pojoaque, Nambe is a small village without any major attractions for the average visitor.

Tesuque Pueblo

A short distance north of Santa Fe, Tesuque is a small pueblo most well known for being the home of Camel Rock, an unusual rock formation along the road between Santa Fe and Española which, from certain angles, does indeed look like a camel. Just across the road is the pueblo's Camel Rock Casino.

Central New Mexico Pueblos

Roughly from north to south:

Cochiti Pueblo

South of Santa Fe, Cochiti is the home of Cochiti Lake and administers the nearby Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument, a scenic park with some lovely geologic formations.

Santo Domingo Pueblo

Just south of Cochiti, Santo Domingo is a very scenic village.

San Felipe Pueblo

Along I-25 between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, San Felipe is a small village which also runs a casino on I-25.

Santa Ana Pueblo

Just outside the village of Bernalillo, Santa Ana Pueblo operates a casino and a luxury resort.

Zia Pueblo

Northeast of Bernalillo, Zia doesn't have much for the tourist but is well known across New Mexico because of the Zia Sun Symbol, which is on the New Mexico state flag.

Jemez Pueblo

Northeast of Bernalillo and near the Jemez Mountains.

Sandia Pueblo

Just north of Albuquerque, Sandia runs the Sandia Casino and the Bien Mur Indian Market Center.

Isleta Pueblo

Located south of Albuquerque, Isleta is a scenic village and runs the Isleta Casino.

Northwest New Mexico Pueblos

From east to west:

Laguna Pueblo

East of Grants, Laguna is a small pueblo that is a little off the beaten path.

Acoma Pueblo

East of Grants, Acoma is a striking and very historic village, located atop a tall mesa. Much like Taos, Acoma village has changed little over hundreds of years and could be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States (a title which is also claimed by Hopi Pueblo in Arizona).

Zuni Pueblo

Located south of Gallup, Zuni is a large and historic pueblo.



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