Cochiti Pueblo is extending an invitation: come and see who we are. With the opening of their new Visitor Center in April of this year, a place which tribal administrator Kenny Pin hopes will “serve as the gateway to Tent Rocks and Cochiti Lake,” the Pueblo now has a space to exhibit the art and culture of their people.
The new Center was a year in the planning, according to Visitor Center manager Jaime Delgado. It’s located a mile and a half from the tribal offices and five miles from Tent Rocks. Inside the Center visitors can receive help planning their visit to Tent Rocks, Cochiti Lake and other destinations. Brochures on various sites in the area are available and staff can offer general information and suggest what one might need for their visit. Souvenirs and snacks are available as well. The main focus of the center, however, is art.
The vision for the new Visitor Center was as a space to sell the work of Cochiti artists. Jewelry, pottery, drums and other items are held by the Center on consignment for the artists, affording them a well-located place to sell their work. The Center is open to work of any kind from the Pueblo’s artists. As Jaime Delgado puts it, “whatever they’re talented at, they can bring in.” If someone is looking for an authentic Native American creation, they can find it here.
Delgado works with Cochiti artists who are interested in selling their work through the Center, helping them to do things such as pricing it appropriately. The Center receives 25% of items sold there as part of the consignment contract. The Pueblo hopes to grow the number of artists whose work is showcased in the Visitor Center. They want to maintain the quality of the work as well. Kenny Pin sees it as a “work in progress.” He says the Pueblo is talking about putting together a quality control committee so that the work sold maintains the highest standards. Pin also believes they may one day be able to extend their openings to artists from other pueblos.
Some of the artists do demonstrations of their craft. Delgado spoke of artist Wayne Martin, who works with school-age children to show them how his drums are made. Nellie Suina, a jewelry artist, also does demonstrations of the techniques of her craft. The Center’s ongoing commitment to the art created by Pueblo members offers a vision for future artists, along with a space for them to develop their skills.
Jaime Delgado sees the Visitor Center as a place for the public to learn about the Pueblo of Cochiti. When they opened, the staff put up a US map and offered visitors dots to put on it, showing where they were from. Now they need a world map, Delgado laughs. Visitors have come from many places, including France and Thailand. It’s a part of her job she enjoys, saying “it’s very nice to talk to people from all over.” That’s a trend she hopes increases.
The Center is now observing its winter hours, which mean it’s open from 8am to 5pm Monday through Friday and 9am to 5pm on Saturday and Sunday.