July 6 2021
The first Native Americans arrived in the Southwest thousands of years ago, and the local tribes are still deeply important to the spirit and community of Santa Fe. From their influential art and jewelry to the adobe-style structures the area is known for, indigenous people have left their mark on this city. Keep reading to explore Native American culture in Santa Fe, NM.
The Apache and Navajo Nations have both left their mark on New Mexico, but the Pueblo people are the most prevalent near Santa Fe, and their tribal communities are among the oldest in the nation. While they began to put roots down approximately 1500 years ago, it is believed the Pueblo people arrived long before that.
There are 19 Native American Pueblos in the state, and many of these sovereign communities are just outside of Santa Fe. If you would like to visit one of these communities for yourself, we do suggest calling and/or researching ahead of time. While the locals are warm and welcoming people, some Pueblos only allow guests on certain days, and each has customs and rules that should always be respected by visitors. Typically feast days and celebrations are the most popular times to go when you can experience the music, the dancing, the storytelling, and of course the incredible food.
Artwork is a deeply important part of Native American tradition and has been for at least 3000 years. Clay pots, jewelry, blankets, clothing, are just a few of the unique and beautiful creations handmade by the local tribes. The Museum of Contemporary Native Arts in downtown Santa Fe is a great place to learn more about the history, culture, and techniques of the Pueblos and other Southwestern Natives.
Under the portal of The Palace of the Governors in Santa Fe Plaza is another great place to learn Native history, and is one of the best places to purchase authentic Indian jewelry, pottery, and more. The Native American Artisans Program offers buyers the chance to interact with artisans who display their handmade wares under the portal of the Palace of the Governors, as they have for decades. The ever-changing array of handcrafted items includes pottery, some textiles, and jewelry made of traditional materials such as turquoise, coral, and silver. The Palace itself is an adobe structure built in the early 1600s, and the architecture is just as much a part of Native culture as the exhibits inside. The Pueblo people have been building adobe structures in New Mexico for centuries, and that style of architecture has become absolutely synonymous with Santa Fe.
These are just a few of the countless ways that Native American culture has helped define our city, our state, and our entire country. We would like to encourage anyone reading this to learn more about the practices, traditions, and history of indigenous people directly from Native American sources, and also encourage you to support them through buying only authentic American Indian goods and art from the people making them.
If you are interested in exploring the museums, seeing the architecture, or taking a day trip to visit the Pueblo communities, book a stay with Inn of the Turquoise Bear. Located moments away from downtown Santa Fe, this adobe-style lodge features 9 luxurious rooms, incredible lush gardens, and the best breakfast in town.