The setting of the Acoma Pueblo certainly does lend to thoughts of the discovery of a mythical lost city, especially on a rainy overcast day. Acoma is perched atop a very picturesque rock outcrop mesa that towers over the valley below and the mysterious look this ancient village imparts is enough to command reverence. A lot of history has been made in this sacred place, because Acoma Pueblo actually is the oldest continually occupied city in America.
Construction of stone block and mortar pueblos began at Acoma about 1,000 years ago and this settlement likely dates back much further. The original occupants relied upon foraging and hunting, while agricultural practices were set in place. The classic native Three Sisters combination of beans, corn and squash provided the fuel for a blossoming society. The hidden location in the maze of mesas in this region also helped to prevent raids from neighboring tribes, which became more common during the severe drought that occurred back in the 1300s. Even after a few meager living centuries, Acoma was occupied when the Spanish explorers rolled through in the early 1500s. The natives in this place survived slavery, unspeakable acts of torture and a massacre organized by the Spanish, which is still a sore topic to this day. European diseases also took their toll, yet Acoma was never completely abandoned.
Native artisan traditions that date back an eternity are still practiced at Acoma Pueblo and this is the charm that attracts visitors in the modern age. A wealth of historical information can be found in the visitor center, which also has a snack bar restaurant and a gift shop full of mementos of the journey. These areas are open to all that pass through, while touring the old Acoma Pueblo Village requires a fee and special permit for photographers. Tour buses cart visitors to the top of the mesa where native artisans and local storytellers await. Everything from native silver smith turquoise jewelry to to hand crafted baskets and pottery can be found in the village for a fair price. For this reason, be sure to save some shopping dollars for this opportunity because the artisan goods at Acoma are available nowhere else in the world!
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