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Sandia: the Lesser Known Pueblo

The ancient Tiwa word for Sandia Pueblo is Nafiat, “place where the wind blows dust.” During the 16th century the Spanish colonists renamed the mountain range Sandia, the Spanish word for watermelon, because of the red glow on the mountains at sunset. The Sandia Mountains are a backdrop to this circa 1919 photograph at Sandia Pueblo.

Aftermath of the 1680 Pueblo Revolt

Sandia and Isleta are the only two pueblos in New Mexico that speak Southern Tiwa. For unknown reasons, Sandia Pueblo has been ignored by historians and anthropologists, and there is less documentation on its history. What is known about the pueblo, which is located 15 miles north of Albuquerque, is that prior to 1680 it had a population of at least 3,000. Many of the people were either killed during the Pueblo Revolt or fled for their safety.

Return to New Mexico

By 1733 the pueblo had been abandoned and not until 1748 did they return from Hopi land. Documentation states that when Sandia was resettled it was a mix of refugees from various Pueblos and that it had possessed different characteristics prior to the revolt. With the new settlement Sandia now had a strong Keresan influence, more so than any other non-Keres pueblo.

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