Ancient & Modern Pueblos – Oldest Cities in the U.S.

Nambé Pueblo, New Mexico –  Pronounced Nam-bay, the pueblo was established in the 1300’s and is one of eight Northern Pueblos. Located about 18 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico, today there are about 1800 people living in the pueblo that sits within the beautiful foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. Numerous recreation opportunities present themselves in the area and visitors are welcome at the ceremonials held on July 4th and October 4th each year. There’s a fee for photography, sketching or tape/video recording. The pueblo is located north of Santa Fe. Travel on Highway 84/285 north for 16 miles to the junction with NM 503 north of Pojoaque, then travel east two miles on NM 503. Contact information: Nambé Pueblo, Rt. 1 Box 117-BB, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87506; 505-455-2278.

Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, New Mexico –  Previously known as the San Juan Pueblo until returning to its pre-Spanish name in November 2005, the Tewa name means “place of the strong people.” Founded around 1200 A.D., the pueblo became the site of the first Spanish colony in 1598, when Conquistador Don Juan de Oñate established the first Spanish capitol of the new province of Santa Fe de Nuevo Mexico near the pueblo. He renamed the pueblo San Juan de los Caballeros after his patron saint, John the Baptist and was shortly afterwards named the governor of the new province. Near here, Onate established the first capital called San Gabriel de los Espanoles. When the Pueblo Revolt erupted, the Pueblo people destroyed every trace of the Spanish on their lands, including the San Gabriel settlement. Today, the pueblo is the headquarters of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council and is called home to some 3,500 residents. Guests are welcome during certain feast days but, there is a fee for photos, videos, or sketching. The community is located about 25 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, P.O. Box 1099, San Juan Pueblo, New Mexico 87566; 505-852-4400.

Picuris Pueblo, New Mexico –  Located in what is known as the “hidden valley” of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of Northern New Mexico, the Picuris Pueblo  is the smallest of the Tewa-speaking pueblos. The original pueblo, built in the twelfth century, was abandoned after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, but was reestablished in the early eighteenth century. Today Picuris provides visitors with a museum, ancient ruins, outdoor recreational opportunities and numerous shops featuring native arts and crafts. Visitors are welcome at several celebrations held throughout the year. Tours and photographs are allowed with a fee. Picuris Pueblo, PO Box 127, Penasco, New Mexico 87553; 505-587-2519.

Pojoaque Pueblo, Edward S. Curtis, 1905

Pojoaque Pueblo, Edward S. Curtis, 1905

Pojoaque Pueblo, New Mexico – The smallest of all the pueblos, Tewa-speaking people established the original pueblo about 500 A.D. However during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Pojoaque was abandoned, and was not resettled until about 1706. In about 1900, a severe smallpox epidemic caused the pueblo to be abandoned again. However, in 1934, Pojoaque Pueblo was reoccupied and became a federally-recognized Indian Reservation in 1936. The ruins of the original pueblo, as well as other pueblos deserted after the Pueblo Revolt, are nearby. The Pueblo features a museum called the Poeh Cultural Center and twice annual dances are open to the public. The community is located about 15 miles north of Santa Fe on US 285/84. Contact information: Pojoaque Pueblo, 39 Camino del Rincón, Santa Fe, New Mexico 87506; 505-455-2278.

Sandia Pueblo, New Mexico, late 1800s

Sandia Pueblo, New Mexico, late 1800s

Sandia Pueblo, New Mexico –  This small pueblo, established in the 1300’s, lies on the northern outskirts of Albuquerque. It was a bustling and thriving community long before Europeans entered the area. Sandia became a settlement for Spanish explorers in 1617 when it was established as the seat of the Mission of San Francisco. Less than five decades later, Sandia participated in the Pueblo Revolt, a bloody rebellion that exploded simultaneously among the northern Pueblos on August 10, 1680. Sandia Pueblo, located 15 miles north of modern-day Albuquerque and three miles south of Bernalillo. Its some 500 residents of today provide visitors with the Sandia Casino, the Bien Mur Indian Market Center, and the Sandia Lakes Recreation Area. Its annual feast day is open to the public. Sandia Pueblo, 30 Rainbow Road, NE, Albuquerque, New Mexico   87113; 800-526-9366 or 505-867-3317. See article HERE.

San Felipe Pueblo, New Mexico – The pueblo was established by Keresan -speaking Pueblo Indians in the 1500’s and is one of the most culturally conservative of all the Keresan speaking people, passionately retaining their traditional religion and customs despite relentless pressures from the outside world. Known for its ceremonial dances and native arts and crafts, the pueblo ‘s current population exceeds 3,000 members. At certain times of the year, the pueblo welcomes visitors, such as the Green Corn Dances in May and San Pedro’s Day festival in June. Photography and sketching are prohibited at the pueblo . It is located 26 miles north of Albuquerque at exit 252, then north 2 miles on local road. 505-867-3381

San Ildefonso Pueblo, New Mexico – A Northern Pueblo of Tewa-speaking pueblo, its ancestors originally lived at Mesa Verde and Bandelier. Occupied since the 14th century, the San Ildefonso Pueblo is one of the best known of the New Mexico “living” pueblos, containing adobe buildings, ceremonial kivas, a central plaza, and a 1905 church built on the remains of a 17th-century mission church. Famous for its hand-crafted black-on-black  pottery and its annual Northern Indian Pueblos Artist and Craftsman Show, the pueblo is located south of Española, New Mexico on NM 502. The pueblo can be visited daily.  Photography and sketching are prohibited at the pueblo. 505-455-2273

Santa Ana Pueblo, Bernalillo, New Mexico –  The pueblo was established in the late 1500’s  by Keresan-speaking Pueblo Indians and first called Tamaya, but were forced to submit to Spanish rule in 1598 and renamed. Today, the Santa Ana Pueblo lands cover 73,000 acres east and west of the Río Grande River and are home to about 500 residents. Today, the community has become a bit of a resort, which includes a golf course, casino, and other recreational activities. However, they also provide a view of their traditional ceremonial dances several times throughout the year. Pueblo of Santa Ana, 2 Dove Road, Bernalillo, New Mexico   87004; 505-771-6700.

Santa Clara Indians, 1907

Santa Clara Indians, 1907

Santa Clara Pueblo, New Mexico – Established in about 1550, the pueblo is a member of the Northern Pueblos of the Tewa speaking Pueblo Indians. They first inhabited the Puyé Cliff Dwellings in Santa Clara Canyon until such time as drought forced the villagers to leave to their current location nearer the Rio Grande River. Today the Santa Clara Indians are noted for their pottery, and provide recreational opportunities as well as tours to the ancient 740-room Puye Cliff Dwellings. The pueblo is located about one miles south of Española, New Mexico on N.M. 30. Visitors to the pueblo must check in at the governor’s office, where photography, sketching and video recording permits are available throughout most of the year, with the exception of feast days. Santa Clara Pueblo, P.O. Box 580, Española, New Mexico  87532; 505-753-7326.

1 thought on “Ancient & Modern Pueblos – Oldest Cities in the U.S.”

  1. i have stumbled upon an older civilization of native healers who while not known by name were perhaps the origin of southwestern native american medicine. i have no other resource except a tale told to me while in college in pueblo, colorado. if anyone knows about this lost race please contact me at daletalbot70@gmail.com. thank you.

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