San Ildelfonso is the second largest of the Tewa Pueblos with Okhay Owingeh being the largest. Santa Clara Pueblo borders San Ildelfonso. The neighboring pueblos are rich in mineral resources and famous for their pottery. During the 1782 smallpox epidemic more than 500 people died in a two month period at those pueblos. The Spanish introduced diseases unknown to the Pueblos that included: smallpox, measles, malaria, typhus, typhoid, scarlet fever, and chickenpox.
Prehistoric Sustainable Agriculture
During prehistoric times the people of Santa Clara devised an irrigation system that allowed them to divert water from the Rio Grande to its fields at lower elevations. With the new system it freed the pueblo from being dependent on rainfall for their crops. The irrigation involved considerable mechanical ingenuity that brought water closer to the surrounding communities. Agriculture and hunting were the primary sources of sustaining the pueblos prior to the arrival of the Spanish colonists. A common belief shared by the Pueblo people was that anything that grows wild cannot be owned but rather, shared with everyone. These included plum and berry bushes that grew along the banks of the river, as well as asparagus, amaranth, basil, and mint.
Pueblo Revolt of 1680
After the Pueblo Revolt members of San Ildelfonso fled for their safety and fortified themselves in the mountains atop the Black Mesa until 1694. St. Ildelfonsus Mission Church at San Ildelfonso Pueblo was destroyed in 1680 during the Pueblo Revolt. By 1701 reconstruction of the church began under the guidance of Fray Juan de Tagle and was dedicated in 1711. Through the next century the church underwent several reincarnations.