The United States of America has welcomed countless groups of people to its shores over the last few hundred years. However, it's easy to forget the Indigenous groups who have in many cases lived on the same land for thousands of years prior to recent immigration.
A great example of this is the Acoma Pueblo who have lived in three villages near Albuquerque, New Mexico for the best part of 2,000 years. At Route 66 Tours, we often take a stop at Acoma Sky City, so you can experience some of the culture and history of these Native Americans.
Where is Acoma Pueblo?
Acoma Pueblo is located west of Albuquerque, in one of the most picturesque regions of New Mexico. Large expansive canyons cover the landscape, with amazing rock formations and barren red desert sand covering the ground.
Despite being in the desert, Acoma Pueblo is situated at close to 2,000 metres above sea level. This means that the climate is dry, resulting in hot temperatures during the summer and very chilly conditions at night and over winter.
The settlement sits atop one of these massive sandstone bluffs, at a height of more than 100 metres above the ground. As well as providing good protection from neighbouring Navajo and Apache peoples in the past, this isolation has allowed the culture to flourish. Of course, before you get to Acoma Pueblo, it pays to know a little more about this special cultural location.
The history of Acoma Pueblo
One of the more impressive details about Acoma Pueblo is its longevity. Emerging in around the 13th century, according to fossils and carbon dating, Acoma Pueblo is regarded as the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in North America and is a National Historic Landmark.
With historic land totalling around 5,000,000 acres, Acoma Pueblo is split into three villages – Sky City (Old Acoma), Acomita, and Mcartys. At the moment, the population of Acoma sits at around 30, with this figure rising on the weekends and public holidays.
Acoma pottery and Native American crafts
The Acoma Pueblo is arguably most famous around the world for its unique art and crafts. Over the course of hundreds of years, people have used the same traditional techniques and materials, preserving their cultural values and way of life.
One of its most famous products is pottery. Used for everything from cooking and eating, to storage by men going on long hunting trips, examples of Acoma pottery are not just revered for their historical value, but also for their beautiful design. While primarily orange and black, the pottery often features grand rainbow bands, animals such as deer and parrots, and even impressive geometric patterns.
Thanks to the Native American connection with nature, a lot of the pottery includes the lifecycle between life, water and sky – all important elements of this special culture.
What can you do at Acoma Sky City?
Whenever we go to Acoma Sky City, our guests are always fascinated by its vast history, interesting culture and unique experiences. In recent years, the Sky City Cultural Center and Haak'u Museum have been established to both preserve Acoma traditions and showcase the history to the wider public.
At the Sky City Cultural Center, you can embark on a guided tour of the village, seeing how people live high on the mesa. It's also possible to admire the Acoma pottery and crafts or even buy a souvenir to take home with you. One of the benefits of the Sky City Cultural Center is that it's great for visitors of all ages – with activities for the kids as well as more historical exhibitions for adults.
Over at the Haak'u Museum, the focus is on the ancient and modern history of this group. There are countless galleries to explore that take you through the generations of Acoma people and the different influences on their lifestyle.
Until December 31, 2017, there is a special exhibit at the museum from cartoonist Ricardo Cate. Having grown up in the Native American community, Cate's observations showcase the lighter side of the clash of cultures between Acoma Pueblo and the outside world.
Travelling with Route 66 Tours
At Route 66 Tours, it's our aim to ensure your trip is as diverse as possible. Whether that's taking in the bright lights of Las Vegas, the architecture of Chicago or the history of Acoma Pueblo, your journey is designed to be informative.
If you would like more information about which of our trips is best for you, get in touch with our friendly team today – we look forward to hearing from you!