Art & Literature

GIS & Mapping


Base Camp

The Pueblos - Acoma

The Acoma Pueblo is also known as Sky City and is one of the oldest continuously occupied towns in North America.

Perched high atop a mesa, southwest of Albuquerque, Acoma is a self-contained community with outlying springs, farms, and homesteads on the valley floor below, and has actively resisted efforts to westernize the community.

Acoma Well

Sky City is a 70 acre site on a massive sandstone mesa that rises 367 feet above the valley and approximately 7,000 feet above sea level. Francisco Vaques de Coronardo's army visited Acoma in the year 1540 and became the first white man to enter Sky City and there is an adobe catholic church at the pueblo. The tribe now owns 360,000 acres of land on and around Sky City, and has a population of 6,000.

From high atop its perch, Acoma has a commanding view in all directions.

Acoma, which means People of the White Rock, has been inhabited since before the twelfth century.

For many generations women have traveled from the pueblo's mesa top village down to the lower springs to gather water and then carried it back up the paths in ollas carefully balanced on their heads.

Acoma is best known for its expert thin walled pottery that has been in production and used as trade for hundreds of years. Using clay from special deposits, the knowledge of their pottery skills has been passed down through the generations for hundreds of years.

The Acoma specialize in large ollas (water jars) with multi-colored patterned bands or the black on white geometric patterns that became a design technique in the late 1900s.

The oldest pots from the 1800s can have up to five natural pigment colors in their glaze.

Another pottery form popularized by the Acoma in the 1900s has been animal effigies, much like those of their Anasazi ancestors.

Along with firing their pottery in outdoor fires, the Acoma have also been baking bread in outdoor ovens for many generations.

As you can see from the illustrations, the entire pueblo is made of adobe mud bricks,

and today has wooden and glass doors and windows, metal stoves and chimneys, yet little else seems to have changed on the mesa top for hundreds of years. Most of the tribe's present day people have residences in other parts of the reservation, in several farming villages, or may work at the tribally owned casino, and there are 30 families who continue to occupy the Sky city mesa at Acoma, living in the old houses and caring for the village.

The Acoma carry on a long tradition of conducting seasonal dances wearing traditional clothing and headdresses, making music with drums, rattles and flutes.

Acoma potters are women and men who shape, paint and fire their works to form an important part of the tribe's traditional economy and culture influence. These contemporary potters work carries a similar shape and design to pieces made by their fellow villagers several generations ago . And even follow patterns from ancient Anasazi pottery sherds.

Carmel Lewis 2000

Sandra Victorino 2000

Acoma olla early 1900s

Acoma olla 1940s

L Valle 2000