Pojoaque Pueblo

    P'osuwaege - The Water Drinking or Gathering Place
  • Language: Tewa
  • Size: 11,963 acres
  • Population: About 260

The area of Pojoaque Pueblo saw its first settlers in the 500s CE. The lifestyles of those settlers evolved in parallel with the rest of the Ancient Puebloan world. The northern Rio Grande valley (Tewa Basin) was a bit of a backwater in those days. Technological innovations got there later than they did in Chaco, Aztec and Mesa Verde. The area was settled by small communities of hunter/gatherer and early agriculuralist groups, mostly living in pithouses and moving up and down the eastern slopes of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains with the seasons.

In the late 1200s CE is when the first groups of Tewa started moving into the valley and, over time, they merged into the local societies and added their knowledge and experience to the whole. Villages sprung up and grew as new technology was better able to feed more mouths. The ancient pueblo of Jacona was built in those early days and abandoned between 1350 and 1400. There were several other small pueblos in the area, too, mostly beside the floodplains along the course of the Rio Nambé. There was also the problem of Apache and Navajo raiders coming in and stealing food and women. Isolation in the mountains wasn't safe any more. The population of the Pojoaque area rose until the Spanish arrived just before 1600 CE. Because of the location, Pojoaque wasn't defensible.

The priests and early settlers immediately set about abusing the people, forcing the construction of the San Francisco de Pojoaque mission in the early 1600s. The tribe was almost reduced to starvation by the seizure of their food stores and the reduction of their ability to work their own fields. Immediately after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, Pojoaque was abandoned and the people moved to places where they felt safer from any Spanish reprisals.

Around 1706 people began resettling in the former pueblo area and by 1712 there were about 80 residents. Once New Mexico was in the hands of the Americans, the pueblo started feeling increased pressure and encroachment from incoming Anglo settlers. President Abraham Lincoln finally gave the people a land grant and that helped for a while. Then in 1908 a severe smallpox epidemic killed the village's last cacique and the governor left to find work somewhere else. That led to the pueblo being abandoned again. There were fewer than 20 residents left anyway.

An Act of Congress in 1933 caused the Bureau of Indian Affairs to publish ads in local newspapers asking for Pojoaque tribal members to return or face complete loss of their heritage. The people began to return in 1934 and they successfully became a Federally Recognized Indian Reservation again in 1936.

Today, Pojoaque is probably the least "native" pueblo. Pojoaque Pueblo is most known for its Buffalo Thunder Resort: hotel, golf course and casino. Very little pottery comes out of Pojoaque any more and the little that does often comes with the name of another pueblo attached.

Pojoaque Pueblo Potters