New Mexico: San Juan

NEW MEXICO: SAN JUAN (Ohkay Owingeh)

The San Juan Pueblo (Ohkay Owingeh) lies 30 miles north of Santa Fe and has been inhabited for over 700 years. It is the largest of the Tewa-speaking pueblos with about 12,000 acres of land. 

Popay (aka Pope), who led the great Pueblo Revolt of 1680, was from the San Juan Pueblo. Popay felt that the San Juan people were too submissive to the Spanish and left to instead to live at Taos Pueblo. Once the Pueblo Revolt started, the San Juan people joined in. 

Under Spanish rule, San Juan was the original capitol of New Mexico. There is a distinguishing New England style church built in 1889, which is quite different from the mission style churches found on the other New Mexico pueblos. Only 100 or so of the 700-year-old buildings survive today. 


Ohkay Owingeh is surrounded primarily by farmland along the Rio Grande River and has a population of nearly 6,800 people. Today, it is the seat of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Council.  

Located just 4 miles northeast of Espanola, New Mexico, the San Juan people keep their traditions alive through community dance, arts and crafts like pottery and weaving, and celebrations like Feast Days. The community consists of one- and two-story adobe houses, rectangular kivas, a stone chapel and a 1912 stone church built on the ruins of the earlier mission church. 

Health care is provided by the Ohkay Owingeh Health and Human Services Division, with services ranging from dedicated public health nurses and community health representatives (CHRs) to a diabetes program, a senior citizens center, and veteran and family services. 

With a per capita income of $25,000, 17% of Ohkay Owingeh families live below poverty level.