While looking for interesting sites to see near Albuquerque I noticed that Coronado Historic Site was close by AND yet another "first contact" site. Having been to Jamestown, St Augustine, Pensacola and Plymouth we decided to add Coronado to the list. What a great visit we had!
The site is easy to find and just off I-25 so easy to visit. It is at the (partially reconstructed) ruins of the Pueblo of Kuaua occupied from 1300 AD/CE to the end of the 16th century. The site, however, is named for Francisco Vasquez de Coronado, the Spanish conquistador and his force of 500 soldiers and 2000 "Indian" allies from New Spain, who came upon the Kuaua pueblos of the Tiwa people in 1540 and may have stayed for 2 years.
From the entrance where we stopped to talk to volunteers who were watering the gardens of local medicinal plants we then stood in the shade of a veranda and spoke with a number of Native Peoples craftspeople from different nations. The most interesting were Raphael and Pauline Sarracino who are Hopi and Jemez, respectively. Raphael is an award winning Kachina carver and spent a long time not only telling us about the symbolism of each design but about his travels and beliefs about living as an Native American in the US. We also bought a dreamcatcher from another craft person but have been told since that although they are made and sold by the people of many of the Nations of Native Americans, the dreamcatcher is only authentically Ojibwe/Chippewa.
From this enlightening conversation we stepped into a tour and a room with the mud paintings lifted from the walls of the square kiva discovered when archeologists from the University of New Mexico excavated the site in the 1930s. Because the figures are religious photographing them is not allowed but the story of the process of how a Master's student, William Bliss, figured out how to transfer the paintings which are now stored here and in special vaults to help preserve them, was fascinating.
We then toured the kiva which has replica paintings on the walls, another fascinating story, and the grounds.
|Tumbleweed against the fence|
|Spanish icon-the Spaniards came to convert the "savages" to Christianity and the story of the struggles of not often told from the perspective of those whom it affected most|
|Native pottery and feathers|
|The Sandias from Bernalillo NM|
From here we continued to our campsite at Cochiti Lake where we'd be based for our visit to Santa Fe.