Route 66 took us off the beaten path to discover the amazing Acoma Indians. Members of the Acoma tribe have continuously lived atop a 70-acre plateau called Sky City since 1000 A.D. That’s right- 500 years before Columbus hit our shores in 1492. Sky City is nearly 370 feet above the canyon floor in the desert of Western New Mexico. About 50 Acoma Indians now inhabit the once thriving Pueblo.
You meet at the Visitors Center to take a bus trip up the side of the plateau. Your tour guide is an Acoma Indian and Sky City resident. As you walk around with your guide, locals spread their art out for sale. You can talk directly to those artisans who make the beautiful Acoma pottery. Art experts agree, “Acoma pottery is like no other“. It is prized because it is very, very strong. They also use a white “slip” which makes it unique.
You also visit San Estevan del Rey Mission, the twin towered church that took 12 years to build, starting in 1629. Because of the arid climate the paintings and wall hangings in the church are well preserved. When the Spanish conquered the Acoma, the mission was built on the Acoma’s sacred spot.
The Y’aak’a Café at the Sky City Cultural Center is well worth planning a meal around. An Acoma native who has trained around the country, Lawrence Jay Riley, prepares local favorites like butternut squash, fry bread, traditional lamb, and blue corn pancakes with sausage.
To think that this tenacious tribe had been living on that plateau for the last 1000 years and I had no idea of this accomplishment reminded me how shockingly inadequate all levels of my public school education had been about the history of the United States. How can I be a person who loves history and have no idea about the Acoma Indians?
Who was your favorite history teacher and why?
Pueblo of Acoma
1-40 , Exit 102
Acoma, NM 87034
May 23, 2013