New Mexico has a hugely rich history of Indian culture. Toward the end of our stay in Albuquerque we were feeling that we hadn’t experienced enough of the culture. Going to an Indian-owned casino (and we did) just doesn’t count.
We again drew on our Aerial America TV show experience and took a trip out to the Acoma Pueblo. Without the show, we probably would not have known to go out there. We were very glad we did. And the landscapes on the trip were amazing too.
When the Spanish explored north of what is today’s Mexico, they found about 20 separate Indian cultures and territories in New Mexico. The Spanish gave these territories the name Pueblo which now largely signifies a city of adobe dwellings and the occupants became known as Pueblo people.
The highlight of the Acoma Pueblo is its “Sky City” or village on top of a 370 foot rock mesa. It is reported to be longest continuously occupied village of what is now the United States, believed to have been occupied for over 1,100 straight years and maybe as many as 2,000.
When the Spanish arrived, they largely left the Acomas alone both as they found them to be peace loving people and that they would be extremely different to conquer on top of their rock where there was no easy way up. Reports differ over just what happened but eventually the Spanish did conquer the Acomas after many sieges of the rock and brutally enslaved them after they did. They forced the Acomas to build a large Mission on the mesa where the Acoma people were converted to Catholicism.
Even today, Sky City is not served by electric lines, running water, or sewers. But there is a road that runs up to the top of rock. Many Acomas only come to the mesa on the weekend to sell their pottery and other handicrafts to the tourists.