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The Santo Domingo or Kewa Pueblo Natives

The people of the Santo Domingo Pueblo still exercise traditional lifestyles, customs, and beliefs. Long-time agronomists, the Santo Domingo Indians, still practice the Corn Dance, and promote their culture through their art, ancient religious traditions, and social structure.

The Santo Domingo Pueblo, in 2009, revived the Native American name of their pueblo and now refer to it as the Kewa Pueblo. Located in Sandoval County, New Mexico, about 25 miles (40 km) southwest of Santa Fe, on the Rio Grande between Albuquerque and Santa Fe, they number a few thousand inhabitants.

The peoples speak the Eastern Keres dialect of the Kewa language, a language shared by isolated groups of the southwestern United States, and like the Indians of these other villages, they come from Mogollan and Puebloan ancestors who inhabited the region since about 3,000 B.C.E.

The Kewa peoples suffered frequent raids by the Apache and Comanche Indians, and quickly allied themselves with the Spaniards, around 1598, as a means of seeking protection from the raids. The Spanish declared Santo Domingo a provincial capital and soon adopted it to head their colonial missionary system. Even so, the oppressive Spanish colonists’ failure to stop raids resulted in the pueblo becoming a key component in resistance to Spanish rule in the region.N19

 

Flooding of the village in the late 1600s and 1880s resulted in reconstruction of much of the pueblo, giving rise to the adobe houses, kivas, church, and some of the other structures present there today. The kiva, a circular structure used for religious activities, occurs in many pueblos and archeological sites from the peoples of this culture. In 1973 the National Park Service listed Santo Domingo Pueblo in its National Register of Historic Places, and today, a museum and cultural center greet visitors to the pueblo.N20

A number of factors make the Santo Domingo inhabitants especially well known among the Native Americans. On the 4th of August the pueblo honor its patron saint, St. Dominic, with a feast, featuring the traditional corn dances. In addition, the Keva peoples have traditionally participated a great deal in inter-Pueblo affairs. They are known for their extraordinary history and skills as traders. Located along the Santa Fe Trail and the Rio Grande since before the arrival of the Spanish, they were well on their way to become some of the greatest Native American roadside merchants once the railroad and the automobile began moving merchandise and tourists through the region. Today this industry plays an important role in their economy.N21

Kewa Sando Domingo Harvest Dance Early 1900s

Contributing Author – Jeffery Bacon