|Copyright: JC Ramos (jramos)
|Date Taken: 2009-11-08|
|Camera: Canon Rebel XTi|
|Exposure: f/11, 1/250 seconds|
|More Photo Info: [view]|
|Photo Version: Original Version|
|Date Submitted: 2009-11-18 17:28|
|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note|
|This is one of the many ravens flying above Acoma (Sky City) jokingly referred to as the "Acoma Air Force" by the residents.|
Acoma Pueblo, also known as "Sky City", is a Native American pueblo built on top of a 367-foot (112 m) sandstone mesa in the U.S. state of New Mexico. It is one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.
The pueblo, believed to have been established in the 12th century or earlier, was chosen in part because of its defensive position against raiders. It is regarded as one the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States along with Old Oraibi, Arizona, as both communities were settled in the 11th century. Access to the pueblo is difficult as the faces of the mesa are sheer (a topographic map shows this best). Before modern times access was gained only by means of a hand-cut staircase carved into the sandstone.
There are several interpretations of origin of the name "Acoma". Some believe that the name Acoma comes from the Keresan words for the People of the White Rock, with aa'ku meaning white rock, and meh meaning people. Others believe that the word aa'ku actually comes from the word haaku meaning to prepare; a description that would accurately reflect the defensive position of the mesa's inhabitants.
Acoma Pueblo comprises several villages including Acomita, McCarty's, Anzac and the newer subdivision of Sky Line. Acoma people dry-farm in the valley below Aa'ku and use irrigation canals in the villages closer to the Rio San Jose.
In 1598, Spanish conquistador Don Juan De Oņate, under orders from the King of Spain, invaded New Mexico, and began staging raids on Native American pueblos in the area, taking anything of value. Upon reaching San Juan Pueblo, Oņate had all the Native Americans who were living there removed from their homes and used it as a base to stage more raids on other Native American pueblos in the area. In response, the Acoma fought back, and several Spaniards were killed in the battle to re-take the pueblo from the Spaniards. During the battle, the Spaniards brought a small cannon up the back of Acoma Mesa, and began firing into the village.
According to Acoma oral traditions, the average Spaniard at the time weighed much more than the average Acoma, and the Spaniards also brought with them attack dogs, which were believed to be fed on human flesh and trained to eat humans alive. The Acoma people lost the Battle of Acoma, and the indigenous population of the pueblo, which had been approximataly 2,000 people before the Spanish attacked, was reduced to approximately 250 survivors; as women, children, and elders were killed by the Spaniards in that battle as well.
After the survivors were herded to Santo Domingo Pueblo, all the surviving children under the age of 12 were taken from their parents, and given to Spanish missionaries to raise; but most of them and the other survivors were sold into slavery. Of the few dozen Acoma men of fighting age still alive after the battle. Oņate ordered a foot chopped off of each one. Oņate was later tried and convicted of cruelty to Indians and colonists, and was banished from New Mexico. However, he was cleared of all charges on appeal and lived out the rest of his life in Spain.
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