Send Steve Where?: Acoma Pueblo rich in culture, pride | KOB 4

Send Steve Where?: Acoma Pueblo rich in culture, pride

Steve Soliz
February 06, 2018 10:26 PM

Send Steve Where? This is the latest in a series to let KOB anchor Steve Soliz learn New Mexico, and to give New Mexico a chance to get to know Steve. Send your suggestions on where Steve should visit at


ACOMA PUEBLO, N.M. -- Long before New Mexico became a state, many Native Americans were sprawled across the Land of Enchantment. Each tribe took great pride and care of the land they called home.

One of those tribes perched themselves on top of a mesa in the 12th century. Nine centuries later, Sky City continues to be the crown jewel of the Acoma Pueblo. It's the historical center of this unique community.

"On the top is San Estevan Del Rey, the historic Spanish mission," said Pueblo Gov. Kurt Riley, referencing the structure built in the early 1600s. "During the Pueblo Revolt, most of these churches were destroyed. Our ancestors did not and so it's still the original building."

Today, the church still serves as a place of worship. Sitting next to the historic mission are homes built centuries ago.

"There are various people, families who live here year-round without the modern conveniences," Riley said. "It's a hardship -- no running water, no electricity."

Walking through Sky City is like taking a step back in time.

"We've tried to maintain it as well as we can to give the visitor a unique experience," Riley said.

The traditions of the Acoma Pueblo are on display for visitors at their cultural center and museum.

"They get a better understanding of how we continued throughout the years," said Melvin Juanico, operations manager at the Sky City Cultural Center and Haak'u Museum.

Each exhibit tells the story of the Acoma Pueblo.

"It's very important, especially for the younger generation because it helps them to understand this is who we are," Juanico said.

The traditions of the Acoma Pueblo live on in the youngest of its people -- from a group of young dancers to one young beauty queen. Taylia Vallo is Miss Pueblo of Acoma Teen. She's proud of her home.

"It's a nice feeling to know that you came from this spot and it's embedded into you and embedded into your heart and your mind," she said. "And it just makes you a stronger person to know you're Acoma."

Five thousand people live on the Acoma Pueblo, although many people have decided to live elsewhere.

"The attraction is jobs, education, opportunity," Riley said. "And so, that's what we're trying to bring back to the community."

There is a plan in place to build infrastructure for affordable housing, which will give many people a place to call home.

"Housing, education and economic development are very important things," Riley said. "Because without those basic provisions of life, people won't want to live here. That's the major reasons people leave."

Riley said tribal leaders are working to bring more jobs and opportunities to the Acoma Pueblo. It's a push to get people to move back.

"The whole purpose of that is to maintain our language and our culture and our traditions," he said.

The future of the Acoma Pueblo lies in its past. Their culture and tradition are enriched by its people. Its beauty is on display for all to see.

"What we try to leave the visitor with is a sense of the landscape and appreciation for who we are," Riley said.


Steve Soliz

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