Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Acoma Pueblo of New Mexico

This pueblo is also called "Sky City". It sits on a mesa 370 feet above the desert floor. For 2000 years it has served as the physical and spiritual homeland for the Acoma people. Many of them live in the Sky City, but  on a part-time basis. We were told by our guide Limbert that only 15-20 families live there full time now. It is a matriarchal society so the homes are owned by females who pass them on to their youngest daughter. There is no electricity or fresh water in the village. Two cisterns in the village,which catch rain water, were pointed out to us on the tour. That water is used for cleaning and building purposes.The cistern pictured below is the largest one in the village.  This was the place where for many years  women of the village washed the clothes of their families.
 The homes of the village vary, some having one story and others may have either two three. Over the years it has been necessary to rebuild them so that much of the original parts of the homes are now on the interior. The original homes were designed to make it difficult for enemies to enter. Outside of the kiva, or ceremony building, ladders are still placed today for entrance through the roof of the building. According to the Pueblo Indian belief the horizontal piece on one of the ladders symbolizes a cloud- the ladders have pointed ends which can pierce the clouds and hopefully create rain.
In the village we also saw a couple of  outdoor ovens which the women use to bake their bread. The village also has a place of stone benches where leaders of the village have their meetings to discuss tribal affairs.
 For many years there was only a rugged foot path up the mesa to this village. In 1920 Henry Fonda made a movie here, Nobody knows my Name, and a road was constructed up to the village. When we had completed our tour of the village Limbert gave us the choice of either taking the foot path down or again riding the bus. All of us on the tour opted for the walk down. It was a rather steep and rugged trail!

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