Each year there is a very nice holiday program at the Coronado state historical monument which is the site of Coronado’s encampment back in 1540. This was the Kuaua pueblo, founded around 1325, which served as the base of operations for Coronado and his 500 men and 2,000 Mexican Indian recruits who he brought along to support the expedition. He was looking for the Cities of Gold but was disappointed. The local Pueblo Indians were not happy with him and his horde of folks and suggested he go look out on the Great Plains — which he did. He managed to get to east-central Kansas before he became disheartened and turned back. Kansas will still do that to travelers today…but I digress.
The weather was mild and there was a nice turnout. This is a free event and the “friends” organization provided hot cider and hot chocolate and plenty of cookies. There was a story teller who entertained the group with several native folk stories. There was a large bonfire out in the pueblo plaza and native dancers from the Cochiti Pueblo performed a number of dances.
Kuaua Pueblo was excavated back in the 1930s and 1940s by CCC workers.Most of the actual original ruins are protected about 1 foot or more below ground with newer adobe walls on the surface tracing out the original floor plan of the pueblo. There are parts of the old pueblo visible as grassy mounds out beyond the edge of the reconstructed area. The following picture shows the extent of the pueblo as it was excavated…
Kuaua Pueblo is one of the very few places where archaeologists found murals painted on the walls of the kiva, a religious meeting house located in the main plaza. The murals were carefully removed and are preserved in an on-site museum. The “painted kiva” has been reconstructed and new versions of the original murals are painted on the walls.
Coronado wore out his welcome and things got ugly before he finally headed back to Mexico City. This was a heavily populated area with several thousand people living in dozens of old pueblos. There may be 8 or 10 old pueblos under present day Albuquerque. Catholic missionaries arrived in the early 1600s and established missions. There are some well preserved ruins of the early missions and some present day pueblos have mission churches that date back hundreds of years.
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