Acoma Pueblo’s Ancient Church

Built on a 350 foot sandstone bluff mesa, Acoma Pueblo has been in existence since at least 1150 A.D. Charles F. Lummis, the ethnologist and archaeologist, describes the seen set in this 1880 photograph at Acoma Pueblo as, “The most wonderful aboriginal city on earth, cliff built, cloud swept and with a church hardly less wonderful than the pyramids in Egypt…”Acoma Pueblo is famous, not only for its sweeping vistas high above its home on the mesa, but more so for the brutal treatment they endured under Spanish rule. Juan de Oñate ordered the execution of many of the Pueblo men, while the remaining ones who survived had one of their feet severed.

San Estevan Mission Church

Construction of the first mission church began under the guidance Fray Juan Ramirez in 1629 and was completed in 1641. The people of Acoma had to carry the massive stones for the foundation of the building up a high and treacherous foot path. Completing this seemingly insurmountable task provided the Acoma with a great sense of pride. So much so, that during the 1680 Pueblo Revolt, other pueblos destroyed their churches but Acoma refused to destroy the church that they had worked so hard to build. After the reconquest the structure was once again used as a Catholic church.

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