Thursday, June 16, 2011

Acoma Publeo

One of the great things about moving with kids is that school field trips can offer glimpses into new surroundings.

Sky City

Last month, I visited the Acoma Sky City Pueblo with Ella's class. 


The Pueblo is built atop a 367 foot sandstone bluff and is believed to have been founded in 1150 A.D.  making it the oldest continuously inhabited community in North America.  
I have to think this used to be lush, fertile ground. 

 There are approximately 250 dwellings on the top of the mesa - none of which have any modern "conveniences" like electricity, sewer or water (by choice). 

I had hoped our house would have a small kiva in the backyard (though not in lieu of our oven). The dark stone is volcanic & probably came to the top of the mesa many years ago after a two week trek across the valley.
Construction of this church began in 1629 when Spanish missionaries visited the Pueblo.  No photos are allowed inside the San Esteban del Rey Mission or at the nearby cemetery.  In fact, photo taking anywhere is closely restricted. 

Our guide said that the tribesman had their own religious beliefs before the Spanish missionaries forced the church to be built.  It was an amazing feat to have the church built - nearly 20,000 tons of dirt and stone had to be carried up the mesa (there was no road).  Many men who died during construction of the church are buried in the walls (destroying the church would wreak havoc on their souls). That the Spanish forced the Native Americans to build the church atop a sacred site is another reason it is still standing. The inside is very impressive - gorgeous paintings from the 17th century and beams of wood that were transported up the mesa & never allowed to touch the ground.
We were allowed to walk down the 'original' pathway (can you see the disgusting collection of chewing gum on the rock?). I felt like I was entering the canyons from 127 Hours. It was steep! And with 30 8 year-olds scampering down like little mountain goats, it was even scarier!
But, we all made it (even a sure-footed 5 year old). This part of the tour is optional - you can opt to take the bus down the path.
The Pueblo is about an hour and a half East of Albuquerque. It has a lovely gift shop and many local artists are selling their goods. The price isn't cheap - $20 for adults (or $55 for a family). But, it's not something you can see in many parts of this country.

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