Pueblo of Santo Domingo (Kewa Pueblo)
Santo Domingo, New
The Santo Domingo Pueblo (now Kewa
Pueblo) is located approximately 35 miles north of Albuquerque
and 25 miles south of Santa Fe, NM, via the Santo Domingo exit
on Interstate 25. For more information, call 505-465-2214 or
visit the New Mexico Tourism Department's website.
Kewa (Khe-wa) in the native Keresan language of its inhabitants,
and previously known as the Pueblo of Santo Domingo, this
traditional pueblo is located on the Rio Grande between
Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Its people have a rich local culture
that has not been overwhelmed by the outside influences brought
to the area by Spanish colonization, the railroad in the 19th
century, and Route 66 in the 20th century.
Residents of the
pueblo maintain their traditional religious practices and social
structure. The pueblo has a long history of producing, trading,
and selling crafts, especially jewelry and pottery. Visitors to
the pueblo can still observe the traditional way of life there
and attend ceremonial events, such as the internationally famous
corn dance held every year on August 4.
Upon the arrival
of Spanish explorers and colonizers in the summer of 1598, many
pueblo people initially aligned themselves with the Spanish as
means of combating Apache and Comanche raiders. The Spaniards
quickly designated Santo Domingo a provincial capital, and, by
1610, the pueblo was a headquarters in the Spanish colonial
mission system. Because the alliance failed to stop the raiding
and the Spanish proved oppressive, Santo Domingo became a
staging area for Pueblo resistance to Spanish rule late in the
17th century. After the Spanish quelled the uprisings in 1700,
violent interaction between the Spanish and Pueblo residents
began to cease.
Major floods from the Rio Grande in the
late 1600s and 1886 were so destructive that residents had to
rebuild the pueblo. Originally constructed around a central
plaza, the pueblo, which residents rebuilt after the flood in
1886, has long blocks of adobe houses along a wide central
street. Builders incorporated surviving structures into the new
plan and extended the pueblo to the east. Two large kivas
(circular rooms used for religious purposes) are within the
pueblo, and a mission-style church from 1890 is located on the
edge of the pueblo, a legacy of Spanish cultural influence.
Agriculture has long been a central part of Pueblo life.
Farming shaped local culture, and the indigenous religious
system of Santo Domingo Pueblo stresses agricultural rhythms and
products. The local belief system strives for balance not only
between people but also between people and the cosmos. Group
ritual knowledge and ceremonies are integral to achieving this
Key religious figures are Kachinas, entities who bridge
the cosmic and worldly realms and bring rain to help produce
crops. A February hunting dance and an August corn dance reflect
the poles of the agricultural year. The Corn Dance, a very
popular local tradition, is also part of the Pueblo’s railroad
and Route 66 history, as the dance is a cornerstone of the Santa
Fe Fiesta, an event created and promoted during the time when
tourism first became such a force in the Pueblo.
area became part of the United States, the pueblo and its
residents experienced new cultural influences, largely due to
the pueblo’s location along the major transportation arteries of
the Atcheson, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad in the 1880s and
Route 66 in the 20th century. Railroad boosters and
entrepreneurs promoted Pueblo people and crafts to 19th-century
tourists via a stop at nearby Domingo Station.
tourists visited Santo Domingo Pueblo in the mid-1920s, after
the completion of Route 66. Along the highway, tourists and
Pueblo residents bought and sold crafts, particularly pottery
and jewelry made for the tourist trade. Befitting the
traditional culture of the Pueblo of Santo Domingo, the pottery
reflects ancient crafting techniques. Roadside stands offer
travelers different types of pueblo crafts.
Park Service listed Santo Domingo Pueblo in the National
Register of Historic Places in 1973. In addition to the pueblo
itself, a museum and cultural center provide opportunities to
learn more about the area and its inhabitants.