"Haak’u: A Place Prepared" Top 5 Page for this destination Acoma Pueblo by goodfish

Acoma Pueblo Travel Guide: 68 reviews and 130 photos

You don't see it until you're nearly under it. The sheer, 350 ft. walls of the mesa rise from the floor of the valley, and as you scan this massive mountain of stone, angular shapes of adobe - earth-toned and blended into the cliffs -slowly come into view.

Acoma (Ah-ko-ma) Pueblo is one of three indigenous settlements (along with Taos Pueblo and Old Oraibi) with the claim of being the oldest continually inhabited village in the United States. All of them exhibit the celled, multi-storied adobe architecture synonymous with the Southwest, share involvement in the most historic of pueblo revolts, and a common belief - although differing somewhat - in Shipapu: their sacred places of origin. All three were also unknown to outsiders until Spanish Conquistador Francisco Vázquez de Coronado's, expeditions stumbled across them in 1540 during their search for the fabled Golden Cities of Cibola. The sad chapters of Native American history common to all our indigenous peoples aside, that's where most of the similarities end. Creation stories, languages, traditional crafts and beliefs are unique to each of their Sovereign Nations to the extent that members of one tribe are not allowed access to the most sacred places - such as a kiva - or ceremonies of another.

Acoma does have one of the darkest chapters of the hundreds surrounding the suppression of America's first people. In 1599, Spain appointed Don Juan Onate governor to the "new" Mexican territory, and a small regiment of his army, headed by nephew Juan de Zaldivar, were involved in an altercation with the Acomans. Accounts vary on exactly which side was the aggressor but 13 Spaniards, including de Zaldivar, were killed. In retaliation, Juan's brother, Vicente de Zaldivar, returned with troops and at the end of a violent 3-day battle the village was torched and 600 - 800 Acomans lay dead. It's written that some were burned alive in the inferno, some were executed and their bodies thrown from the cliffs, and still others died by the hands of their own people; preferable to capture by the Spanish. The survivors were herded off to Santo Domingo for trial and all pronounced guilty. Warriors over age 25 were sentenced to having their right feet chopped off and everyone over the age of 12 to twenty years of slavery. The children were sent to Spanish households as servants.

While atrocities of the past haven't been forgotten, Acomans survived this and many more difficult times but they don't talk much about the things they can't change. These are a people with their faces to future, working hard to promote greater understanding, reconcile the old with the new, and the spiritual with the earthly.

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:Terrific visitor center, tour and panoramas from the pueblo
  • Cons:Ticket prices on the high side, closed on some ceremonial days
  • In a nutshell:Best of New Mexico's pueblo experiences
  • Last visit to Acoma Pueblo: Sep 2008
  • Intro Updated Feb 18, 2015
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Reviews (13)

Comments (3)

  • songlines's Profile Photo
    Sep 28, 2014 at 3:55 PM

    I so love your photos of rock formations - and the other ones too!

    • goodfish's Profile Photo
      Sep 29, 2014 at 5:12 AM

      Haha! We've spent weeks in the Southwest over many trips and never get tired of the scenery! I'm in the process of sorting 10 gig of new photos, and writing new reviews as fast as I can…which is never fast enough!

    • songlines's Profile Photo
      Sep 29, 2014 at 5:30 AM

      I'm looking forward to read and see :-)

  • toonsarah's Profile Photo
    Sep 4, 2011 at 3:38 AM

    Another place that's high on our list of must-sees for our New Mexico trip. Thanks for the inspiration and useful advice :-)

  • hunterV's Profile Photo
    Dec 13, 2010 at 8:09 AM

    A lot of things to see there... Thanks for your story....


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