Santo Domingo Indian Culture

            Santo Domingo History
            Santo Domingo Buffalo Dance


              If you visited the Santo Domingo (also called the
              Kewa and Cochiti), in Sante Fe, New Mexico this
              is typical of what you will see:

              Many tourists are gathered on the plaza in quiet expectation. Soon, a single drum heralded the approach of a
              group of men, who gathered in an area at the other end of the square and began singing. A seemingly endless line
              of dancers -- men, women and children -- followed a lead dancer who carried the flag of their clan. In perfect
              formation, they moved in unison, women with headdresses and black wool dresses, men in breechcloths, all of
              them following the flag bearer. A thousand dancers gradually filled the square.

                Social and Cultural Traits
                There is a social and political connections between all of the Native American Pueblos. This
                is why some of the practices and beliefs of the Cochiti and Kewa (formerly Santa Domingo)—are more
                conservative and strongly influenced by their traditional beliefs than many others. An experienced
                ethnologist can make a comparative study of the two cultures and find dissimilarities between Cochiti
                and Kewa because of non-Keres influences. For example, at a given point in time, the Cochiti potters
                incorporated the outsiders’ tastes, creating small items for tourists as well as figurative pottery mimicking
                the non-Cochiti world, while Santo Domingo Pueblo kept the outside world at arms length.

                Kewa potters focused on making pottery for use, thus keeping their labors domestic. These and other
                historical examples of differences between the Cochiti and Kewa are interesting. At the time of this review,
                Kewa is becoming one of the more progressive Pueblos in response to an unusual federally funded financial
                ($1 million) opportunity to rebuild their trading post (originally built in 1881, replaced in 1922, closed in 1995,
                and destroyed by fire in 2001) and open up numerous tourism opportunities in response to the new Rail Runner
                station established in 2009 at the edge or heart of the Kewa lands. The train tracks are, in fact, a key part of
                the plan.
                Copyright 2012

                Verzuh, V. K. A River Apart: The Pottery of Cochiti & Santo Domingo Pueblos. 2008.
                White, L. A. The pueblo of Santo Domingo, New Mexico. 1974.
          indian jewelry
            Subtle changes in the drumming and songs would signal the dancers, who would change their rhythms and steps in unison and the direction of their dance. After a dance that seemed to last for about an hour, the first group left and a second group of a thousand dancers came, with subtly different details in their dress. In the heat and dust, their concentration, stamina and grace was testimony to a tremendous amount of conditioning and practice. The two groups alternated dancing for the entire day.

            During the break between dances, we were invited into people's homes to eat. The pueblo's main square is lined with rows of adobe homes, and we entered their cool spaces to find large tables laid out with bowls of fruit and macaroni salad and set for perhaps a dozen guests. Michael would greet his family members and friends, and once we sat down, women would come out with steaming bowls of "pozole," red and green chili and beans.
            The Santo Domingo Pueblo is an American
            Indian reservation about forty miles south
            of Santa Fe, New Mexico.

            The village currently sits on the Rio Grande
            and was founded in the 1700's after earlier
            their pueblo was destroyed by floods. They
            are Pueblo Indians and belong to the
            linguistic family of the Eastern Keresan.
            Its major ceremony, which is held every
            year is the Green Corn (or Busk) dance. It
            is held in August.

            The village is located near turquoise mines
            called the Cerrillos mine, which has been in
            existance for hundreds of years. This is why
            the Kewa people have a long and glorious
            history of making fine turquoise jewelry and
            heishi out of the colorful stones.
          Above: A Kewa Woman Today.
          Green Corn Dance