ACOMA PUEBLO is a native American Pueblo. The word “pueblo” is the Spanish word for “town” or “village”. It comes from the Latin root “populus”. The Word “Acoma” is from the Acoma word ACOMA or ACU which means “the place that always was” or “people of the white rock”.
The Pueblo lies on a 365ft MESA. The isolation and location of the Pueblo has sheltered the community for more than 1,200years, which sought to avoid conflict with neighbouring Navajos and Apaches. Francisco Vazquez de Coronado’s expedition (in 1540) described the Pueblo as “one of the strongest places we have seen”. Upon visiting the Pueblo, the expedition “repented having gone up to the place”. The only access to the Acoma Pueblo, during this time, was a set of almost vertical stairs cut into the rock face.
Acoma Pueblo has no electricity, running water or sewage disposal. A reservation surrounding the Mesa, totalling 1,600 sq.km. Tribal members live both on the reservation and outside it. Contemporary Acoma culture remains relatively closed, however. According to the 2000 Us census, 4,989 people identify as Acoma.
Before contact with the Spanish, Acoma people ate corn, beans and squash, primarily . MUT-TZE-NEE was a popular thin corn bread. They also raised turkeys. They hunted deer, rabbits and antelope. Wild seeds, berries, nuts and other foods were gathered. After 1700, new foods are noted in the historical record. Pudding, corn mush, corn balls, wheat cake, peach-bark drink, flour bread, wild berries and prickly pear all became staples. After contact with the Spanish, goats, horses, sheep and donkeys were raised.
In contemporary Acoma, other foods are also popular such as apple pastries, corn tamales, green-chilli stew with lamb, fresh corn and wheat pudding with brown sugar.
Tourism is a major source of income for the tribe. In 2008, Pueblo opened the Sky City Cultural Centre & Haak’u Museum at the base of the Mesa, replacing the original which was destroyed by fire in 2000. Films about Acoma culture are shown and a café serves traditional foods. The complex is fire-resistant, unlike traditional Pueblos, and they are painted light pink and purple, to match the landscape surrounding it. Traditional artwork is exhibited and demonstrated at the centre, including ceramic chimneys crafted on the rooftops. Arts and crafts also bring income into the community.
The Acoma Pueblo has a Casino and a Hotel, the Sky City Casino Hotel which are alcohol-free and it is maintained by Acoma Business Enterprises, which oversees most Acoma businesses. Acoma Pueblo is open to the public by guided tours for most of the year. Photography of the Pueblo and the surrounding land is restricted. Tours and Camera permits are purchased at the Sky City Cultural Centre, while photography may be produced, with permit. Video recordings, drawings and sketching are prohibited.