KWABLA has entered into partnerships with artisans of the Acoma Native American culture from New Mexico. To browse KWABLA's catalogue of goods or listing of artisans from the Acoma culture, click on the icons at the bottom of the page.
The Acoma Native Americans trace their heritage to the prehistoric Anasazi people of the Four Corners region of New Mexico. The Anasazi (meaning “ancient ones”) were the original puebloan peoples and are most well known for their cliff dwellings and unique style of pottery. The Anasazi people eventually merged into tribes of other puebloans and their distinctive culture was lost. However, today, the Acoma Native Americans continue many of the traditions of the Anasazi, reflected in their beautiful pottery and historical villages.
Tracing their lineage to the inhabitants of ruins to the west and north, the Acoma people continue the traditions of their ancestors. Acoma people practice their traditional religion and some also practice the Catholic religion that came with Spanish settlers in the 1500's. Acoma people have traded and interacted with their neighbors for centuries, some of which extended beyond the local Pueblos. Trade between the Aztec and Mayan people was common prior to European settlement. Only more recently has trade and interaction with other tribes been hampered by international boundaries. Traditional alliances still exist between the Pueblos who often speak different dialects or different languages. Throughout the year feasts are held in celebration of historic occasions.
There are several translations of the name “Acoma”. Some believe that the name Acoma means “People of the White Rock” while others say it actually comes from the word haaku meaning “to prepare or plan”. Acoma oral history tells of the origin and migration of Acoma people in search of haaku , it was prophesized from the beginning that there existed a place ready for the people to occupy. Given the defensive position of the Acoma Pueblo “Sky City” it can be said that the Acoma people found their place of preparation and achieved haaku.
Acoma Pueblo, also known as "Sky City", is built on top of a massive sandstone mesa which rises 367-foot (112 m) above the valley and approximately 7,000 feet above sea level. The Pueblo, believed to have been established around 1150 AD, was chosen in part because of its defensive position against enemies. In 1540, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado became the first white man to enter Acoma Pueblo Sky City and he described the Acoma fortress 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.” Access to the pueblo is extremely difficult as the faces of the mesa are sheer rock. Before modern times access was gained only by means of a hand-cut staircase carved into the sandstone.
Acoma Pueblo Sky City is the oldest continuously inhabited community in the US. The Spanish settlers had the mission church of San Esteban Rey built at the pueblo from 1629 to 1641. Its 30-foot beams were carried 30 miles from Kaweshtima or Mount Taylor Mountain, and the dirt for its graveyard was carried up the mesa from the valley below. Both the mission and the pueblo are registered National Historical Landmarks. Like other pueblos, Acoma and the surrounding area are considered federal trust land, administered by the federal government for the pueblo. Several families still live on the mesa itself year-round, while others elect to live in nearby villages. The 2000 US Census lists 2,802 inhabitants of the Acoma Pueblo and off-reservation trust lands.
The Acoma people are most well known for their pottery of both traditional and contemporary styles. To browse KWABLA's catalogue of goods or listing of artisans from the Acoma Native American tribe of New Mexico, click on the icons below.