Laguna Pueblo

    Ka-waikah: Lake People
  • Language: Western Keres
  • Size: 425,000 acres
  • Population: 7,700

Pueblo History

The youngest of today's pueblos, Laguna Pueblo also has one of the largest land reserves of all pueblos. The settlement was established between 1697 and 1699 by refugees seeking to avoid warfare with the Spanish. When Don Diego de Vargas and his Conquistadores arrived in northern New Mexico in 1692 (after the Spanish were expelled from northern New Mexico by the Pueblo Revolt of 1680), residents of several of the pueblos first attacked by the Spaniards had scattered to places like Isleta, Zuni, Hopi and Acoma, seeking refuge from the fighting. That strained the resources of those pueblos and soon forced the refugees to consider beginning their own settlement. That was the seed that began today's Laguna Pueblo. To ensure the survival of that seed, the organizers of Laguna Pueblo made peace with the Spanish in 1698, beginning construction of the San Jose Mission church in 1699 and finishing it in 1701.

The first recorded settlement at Laguna is dated to 1669 but archaeology and oral history say the area has been occupied off and on for thousands of years. Today, the pueblo consists of Old Laguna (the main village) and the smaller villages of Paguate, Paraje, Encinal, Mesita and Seama. Each village still celebrates its own feast day and all villages celebrate September 19 as the Feast of St. Joseph.

Less than half the enrolled population of Laguna Pueblo actually lives and works on the pueblo as many folks have been lured to Albuquerque in search of work.
Pottery History

Laguna's pottery tradition is very similar to that of Acoma, although that tradition essentially died for almost 100 years after the Santa Fe Railroad laid tracks across the reservation in 1880. Then Nancy Winslow taught two four-month arts and crafts sessions at the pueblo in 1973 and 1974. The first class was composed of 22 pueblo members, among them Evelyn Cheromiah and her daughters. By the 1980's the Cheromiah's had become established potters and traditional Laguna pottery making was well on its way to a comeback.

Some artisans at Laguna also produce jewelry, baskets, woodcarvings, paintings and moccasins.

Polychrome olla by an unknown Laguna Pueblo potter
Olla by an unknown Laguna potter
Fine line, medallion and geometric design on a polychrome jar by an unknown Laguna Pueblo potter
Polychrome jar decorated with a fine line and geometric design by an unknown Laguna potter
12 1/2 in h by 12 in Dia
Lightning bolt, kiva step and geometric design on a polychrome jar
Polychrome jar decorated with a kiva step, lightning bolt and geometric design
8 in H by 10 in Dia