Acoma is the oldest continuously inhabited city in the United States. It is an experience that visitors and residents will not want to miss.
Francisco Vaques de Coronado's army visited Acoma in the year 1540, becoming the first European to enter the Sky City.
Many people consider the location of Sky City to be an ideal site for defense against enemies. The oral history of Acoma tells of the origin and migration of Acoma people in search of HaK'u. Acoma (pronounced eh-Ko-Ma or Ah-Ko-Ma) is derived from the Keresan word HaK'u. It was prophesied from the beginning that there existed a place ready for the people to occupy. HaK'u means in a sense to prepare or plan. Recently, archaeologists theorized the occupation of Acoma to be A.D. 1150.
San Esteban del Rey Mission
Like the Pueblo, San Esteban del Rey Mission rests on a 70 acre site of a massive sandstone mesa which rises 367 feet above the valley and approximately 7,000 feet above sea level. The mission, built in 1629, was under the direction of Friar Juan Ramirez and was completed in 1640. The building of the mission restituted peace after a three day battle occurring in December of 1598 between the Acomas and Vicenti de Zaldivar's Spanish troops. This incident isolated common interests for quite sometime thereafter. According to legend, Friar Juan gained entry to Acoma when he saved an infant from a fall off the edge as he approached the mesa. His delivery of the child back to the mother was considered a miracle.
Many interesting features of the mission can be seen. A previous settlement rested in the area now occupied by the mission. The establishment of the mission represents a tremendous amount of toil. All building materials were hand carried or hauled up the steep slopes of the mesa. Most remnants contained within the mission date between the mid-1600s to the later 1800s. Both the mission and the pueblo have been proclaimed National Historic Landmarks.
Recently a permanent museum exhibit entitled One Thousand Years of Clay: Pottery, Environment and History was completed. The Exhibit is housed in the Visitor's Center located at the base of the mesa along with the native food and crafts shops. These shops offer the famous Acoma pottery, jewelry and fine native foods. Souvenirs are also available for the visitors.