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Acoma "Sky City"

Graphics Copyright © 2000.Located 75 miles from the mountain land for sale by owner, Acoma is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. It is an experience that tourists and residents will not want to miss.

Francisco Vaques de Coronado's army visited Acoma in the year 1540 and became the first white man to enter the Sky City. He described Acoma as:

"One of the strongest ever seen, because the city was built on a high rock. The ascent was so difficult that we repented climbing to the top. The houses are three and four stories high. The people are of the same type as those in the province of Cibola (Zuni) and they have abundant supplies of maize, beans and turkeys like those of New Spain (Minge 1976:4).

Many people consider the location of Sky City as an ideal site for defense against enemies. The oral heritage of Acoma tells of the origin and migration of Acoma people in search of HaK'u. Acoma (pronounced eh-Ko-Ma or Ah-Ko-Ma) is derived from the Keresan word Hak'u. It was prophesied from the beginning that there existed a place ready for the people to occupy. HaK'u means in a sense to prepare or plan. Recently, archaeologists theorized the occupation of Acoma to A.D. 1150.

San Esteban del Rey Mission

Like the Pueblo, San Esteban del Rey Mission rests on a 70 acre site of massive sandstone mesa which rises 367 feet above the valley and approximately 7,000 feet above sea level. The mission built in 1629 was under the direction of Friar Juan Ramirez and completed in 1640. The building of the mission restituted peace after a three day battle occurring in December of 1598 between the Acomas and Vicenti de Zaldivar's Spanish troops. This incident isolated common interests for quite sometime thereafter. According to legend, Friar Juan gained entry to Acoma when he saved an infant from a fall off the edge as he approached the mesa. His delivery of the child back to the mother was considered a miracle.

Many interesting features of the mission can be seen. A previous settlement rested in the area now occupied by the mission. The establishment of the mission represents a tremendous amount of toil. All building materials were hand carried or hauled up the steep slopes of the mesa. Most remnants contained within the mission date between the mid-1600s to the later 1800s. Both the mission and the pueblo have been proclaimed National Historic Landmarks.

Recently a permanent museum exhibit entitled One Thousand Years of Clay: Pottery, Environment and History has been completed. The Exhibit is housed in the Visitor's Center located at the base of the mesa along with the Native Food and Crafts shops. These shops offer the famous Acoma pottery, jewelry and fine native foods. Souvenirs are also available for the visitors.

Calendar of Events

Acoma hosts a number of festivities during the year. Those which are open to the public can be viewed during the days listed but cameras are now allowed.

Acoma tradition draws people back to old Acoma at intervals throughout the year. Though Acoma has always been inhabited, nearby settlements which started out as farming villages have become permanent homes for the people. These neighboring communities are known as Anzac, Acomita and McCartys and are located 14 miles north of Acoma along Rio San Jose and Interstate 40.

The days on which people return parallel traditional celebrations. One such example is the annual Saint Estevan Day Fiesta of September 2, on which day the patron Saint of the Pueblo is honored. Acoma Pueblo hosts the following events throughout the year:


February -- Governor's Feast at Old Acoma
March/April -- Easter Celebration at Acomita and McCartys. Usually closed at Old Acoma
May -- 1st Sunday, Santa Maria Feast at McCartys.
Date Flexible -- Annual Arts & Craft Festivities, Tourist Visitor Center.
August 10 -- Feast Day in Acomita -- Saint Lorenzo's Day
September 2 -- Harvest Dance & Annual Feast of San Estevan at Old Acoma.
December 25-28 -- Christmas Festivals at San Estevan del Rey Mission at Old Acoma

Pueblo of Acoma -- Visitor's Etiquette

Pueblo of Acoma, Sky City Tours are privileges granted by the Acoma Tribal Council and Tribal Administration. Therefore, your cooperation is requested to adhere to the Pueblo's Laws, rules and regulations.

  • Please stay on the pavement when descending from Sky City.
  • Please stay within the plaza and street areas, stay from restricted areas, and where off-limit signs are posted. (Restricted areas: water cisterns, cliff edges, behind the church).
  • Absolutely no video recorders/cameras are allowed at any time, and no still picture taking allowed on special feast days only.
  • Please keep off homes, kivas, ladders, especially those that are ancient and in ruins.
  • Please keep clear of dancers, as Acoma dances symbolize a special honor for a special day.
  • Please restrain your children, and advise them of the requirements when visiting the Pueblo.
  • When you leave, please stay on the highway, as camping, hiking or climbing rock formations are prohibited.
  • Please place all trash in proper receptacles.

This information is courtesy of the Pueblo of Acoma. For further information please write or call: Acoma Visitor Center; PO Box 309; Acoma, NM 87034. Tel: 505 470-4966 or 800 747-0181.

We offer mountain land for sale by owner in the Zuni Mountains of New Mexico, approximately 75 miles from Acoma Pueblo.

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