Albuquerque is the gateway to Native American culture in New Mexico. Discover ancient cliff dwellings and petroglyphs that serve as a glimpse into the lifestyles and beliefs of the area’s earliest civilizations. The city is home to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, which provides an overview of pueblo life and the differentiating characteristics of each pueblo in New Mexico. The state is home to 22 Indian tribes, comprised of 19 pueblos, two Apache tribes (the Jicarilla Apache and the Mescalero Apache) and part of the Navajo Nation, which spreads through New Mexico, Arizona and Utah. The pueblos are Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jémez, Laguna, Nambé, Okhay Owingea, Picurís, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia and Zuni. Most are within an hour’s drive of Albuquerque.
Fall signals the celebration of the harvest season with special ceremonies, dancers in authentic dress and sacred rituals. Drums beat with an insistent cadence. Each dance tells a different story and serves a distinct purpose. The natives converse in tongues both unique and fascinating to the outsider. The air is filled with the fragrance of piñon smoke. Red chile ristras (strings) decorate many homes, with the chiles destined to add their distinct flavor to stews and sauces throughout the winter. The sights, sounds and smells are a feast for the senses. The works of talented Pueblo Indian artists and craftsmen are on display and available for purchase including hand-made jewelry, pottery, distinctive crafts and even traditional Indian food, like hot oven bread.
Pueblo life is a window to another world and time. Not relegated to history books or museums, this is a living culture carrying on the centuries-old traditions of their ancestors. Visitors admitted into pueblos to view the dances are expected to respect the customs and traditions. Some pueblos have strict rules governing photography, sketching and tape recording. Visitors must abide by the laws and rules of the pueblo they visit. Most pueblos have a tribal office that can answer any questions.
The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is located in Albuquerque and contains exhibits that represent all 19 pueblos in the state. The center is home to an extensive art gallery and shopping: Native American pottery, jewelry, music, paintings and sculpture are available for enjoyment and purchase. The Pueblo Harvest Café provides a taste of local cuisine infused with flavors common to Native American pueblos throughout New Mexico. (505) 843-7270 www.indianpueblo.org
Puye Cliffs: Located approximately 100 miles north of Albuquerque near Española, the Puye Cliff Dwellings showcases cliff and cave dwellings, early Pueblo architecture, an original Harvey House, and extraordinary panorama views. www.puyecliffs.com
Kasha-Katuwe Tent Rocks National Monument: Just 45 minutes north of Albuquerque at Cochiti Pueblo, you will feel transported to another place and time during a hike through tent rocks, known as “ hoodoos,” and slot canyons. www.blm.gov/nm/st/en/prog/recreation/rio_puerco/kasha_katuwe_tent_rocks.html
Jemez Pueblo: Driving about 50 miles northwest of Albuquerque, you will encounter the Jemez Pueblo along a scenic byway trail. Red rocks frame the village landscape with fry bread and pottery stands below. The visitor center provides a nice overview of the history of the pueblo and the area.