Saturday, 29 September 2012

Acoma Sky City, New Mexico

Acoma Sky City is the oldest continually inhabited community in North America and sits atop the sheer walls of a sandstone mesa over 300ft high.  

The Acoma people have lived on their land for over 2,000 years and their oral tradition goes back even further.   The story goes that their ancestors were told that a place a been prepared for them and as they travelled through what is now Colorado and New Mexico every so often they would call out Haak’u.   When the call was returned to them, they knew they’d found the place prepared.

The only way to visit Acoma is on a guided tour from the Sky City Cultural Centre .

Before Hollywood discovered Acoma the only way to the top of the mesa was up steep narrow path. 
With no easy way to get their equipment to the top, Hollywood asked for and received permission to build a road to the top of the mesa. 
Robert, our guide, took us through the city, most impressively he walked backwards all the way without once stumbling.   He explained that there are over 250 houses on the mesa, there is no running water and no electricity.

Some of the oldest houses on the mesa.

Only a few families live permanently on the mesa, but each clan has a home there and return to the mesa for special cultural occasions.
Some the houses have high doorways and were accessed by ladders which were drawn up at night for safety.
In the mid 1500’s the Spanish Conquistador, Coronado passed this way searching for the fabled Seven Cities of Cibola, when he saw Acoma from a distance he thought he’d found them, not realising that it was the straw in the adobe shining in the sunlight.
San Esteban del Rey Mission was built in the early 1600’s and although you can visit, photographs of the inside of the mission or church yard are not allowed.
Enchanted Mesa was once home to the Acoma people and was only accessible via a steep ramp of fallen stone.  While the people were working in the fields below a great storm passed through and the people watched in horror as the ramp was washed away.

Acoma Legend says that 3 old women and a young boy who were left behind and were rescued when a great thunderbird carried them down to the valley.   Another version of the legend says that a young girl and her mother were stranded and rather than die of starvation leaped from the top of the mesa.
Enchanted Mesa is a sacred mountain a not even the Acoma set foot on it.
Looking towards Enchanted Mesa.
We had a really interesting visit to this very special place.
Have fun, we are!

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