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Celebrate Native American Heritage in New Mexico

by Megan Hill

From northwest to southeast and just about everywhere in between, New Mexico’s Native presence is palpable.

It’s a presence that dates back more than two millennia, when early ancestral tribes lived as hunter-gatherers throughout the Southwest. More than 1,000 years ago, some of these groups joined together to establish permanent settlements, commonly known as pueblos. It’s a way of life that continues to this very day among New Mexico’s 23 pueblos, tribes, and nations.

Bandelier National Monument (Los Alamos) 

Bandelier National Monument protects over 33,000 acres of rugged but beautiful canyon and mesa country as well as evidence of a human presence here going back over 11,000 years. The Ancestral Pueblo people lived here from approximately 1150 CE to 1550 CE. They built homes carved from the volcanic tuff and planted crops in mesa top fields. Corn, beans, and squash were central to their diet, supplemented by native plants and meat from deer, rabbit, and squirrel. Domesticated turkeys were used for both their feathers and meat while dogs assisted in hunting and provided companionship.

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument (Silver City) 

For thousands of years, groups of nomadic people used the caves of the Gila River as temporary shelter. In the late 1200’s, people of the Mogollon Culture decided it would be a good place to call home. They built rooms, crafted pottery and raised children in the cliff dwellings for about twenty years. Then the Mogollon moved on, leaving the walls for us as a glimpse into the past.

Chaco Culture National Historic Park

Today the massive buildings of the Ancestral Puebloan people still testify to the organizational and engineering abilities not seen anywhere else in the American Southwest. For a deeper contact with the canyon that was central to thousands of people between 850 and 1250 A.D., come and explore Chaco through guided tours, hiking & biking trails, evening campfire talks, and night sky programs.

Native Cultures Feast & Float with Los River Runners (Taos) 

Float a tranquil section of the Rio Grande with two guides: one to row the raft, and a Native American interpretive guide who shares Pueblo history and lore with you. The stories of the Native guides, and their unique view of the land they live in, provide an intimate glimpse of a very special and ancient culture.

After floating for about an hour and a half, you disembark to find a delicious traditional feast meal awaiting you, prepared and served by a Pueblo Indian family. This special meal includes red chile stew, blue corn posole, calabacitas, oven bread or fry bread, Indian pie, and Indian tea.

Indian Pueblo Kitchen (at Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque) 

The Indian Pueblo Kitchen is centered around Indigenous cuisine education and exploration and carries on our tradition of creative, Native American culinary artistry and Pueblo hospitality. We offer guests an unforgettable Indigenous dining experience inside the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, featuring culinary events and education, a bakery, teaching kitchen, and the renowned meal pick-up event, the Pante Project.

Laguna Burger (multiple locations)

Native American-owned and iconic spot for green chile burgers. Since its launch ten years ago, the award-winning World Famous Laguna Burger has been heralded by people of all over the country as the best they’ve ever had. 

Tiwa Kitchen (Taos) 

When Ben and Debbie Sandoval began construction of Tiwa Kitchen & Bakery in September 1992, they gathered friends & family and used the ancient tradition of Pueblo adobe making.  Then they carefully placed over 3,000 adobes and created a solid structure that will now last hundreds of years.

Bow & Arrow Brewing Co. (Albuquerque) 

The first Native Woman-owned brewery. They recently announced a Native Land Beer campaign; they developed the IPA recipe and label  for a beer collaboration with other breweries across the country, with releases beginning in November during Native American Heritage Month and a window to participate over several months, through the end of March 2022. Participating breweries will 1) acknowledge on whose ancestral land they are located on and there will be a place on the label to recognize the Tribe(s) and 2) commit to donating beer sales proceeds. The objective is to further visibility of Native people and to generate resources to support Native organizations whose work focuses on ecological stewardship and strengthening Native communities. 

Turtle Mountain Brewing Company (Rio Rancho)

Located in the heart of one of New Mexico’s fastest-growing communities, Turtle Mountain Brewing Company was founded by Nico Ortiz in 1999, whose father was born and raised at Oke Owingeh Pueblo and who supported and inspired Nico to pursue his dream of opening a brewery. “Turtle Mountain” comes from the Tewa name for Sandia Peak, the mountain range that towers over the Albuquerque metro in the east.

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