Monday, March 29, 2010

Cochiti Pueblo

Late this afternoon we arrived to the Cochiti Pueblo, an Indian reservation between Santa Fe and Albuquerque, and we quickly encamped at Cochiti Lake Campground which sits alongside the nearby Cochiti Dam, one of the ten largest dams in the United States.

From our brief readings, the Cochiti Dam was constructed beginning in 1965 by the Army Corps of Engineers against vocal protests by the Cochiti people. The dam diverted the river and flooded ancient tribal agricultural lands, having a huge economic impact on the life of the Pueblo as more than twenty years of farming was lost as lawsuits and protests were mounted. In 2001, the Corps of Engineers issued an official public apology to the Cochiti people, and the Pueblo is now integrally involved in the long-term management of the dam, the lake, drainage regulations, and the resources therein.

The Cochiti Pueblo is home to approximately 1,500 people who have managed to successfully retain their native tribal language of Keres, as well as ancient customs and  practices. The Cochiti people are well-known for the making of ceremonial drums, and there are several shops where high-quality drums can be purchased. No photography, sketching or recording is allowed on tribal lands, so we will not be posting any photos of the Pueblo itself here on our blog.

We are learning that water rights and mineral rights are lightning rods here in the West, and the Native Americans of the pueblos and reservations seem to know only too well how eminent domain and governmental hubris can change the course of history and negatively impact the lives of a people almost overnight. We're keen to learn about life in the Pueblos and how the people have managed to retain their languages, resources and economic independence despite the intervention and frequently callous disregard of the US government.

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