New Mexico: San Ildefonso


The San Ildefonso Pueblo is situated north of Santa Fe and their lands include the striking Black Mesa. There are several archeological sites on the pueblo, which has been occupied since about 1300 AD. 

San Ildefonso is a Tewa-speaking pueblo. The Rio Grande River cuts directly though the pueblo, providing plenty of water for irrigation. They have a history of growing corn and beans and storing their harvest in pots covered with rawhide.  

The Spanish attacked the pueblo in 1694, so the tribe sought refuge on top of Black Mesa to defend against the Spanish advance, but eventually they surrendered and their population was decimated by disease. By 1864, there were only 161 members left, then a smallpox outbreak in 1918 took the population to less than 100.  


Located just 23 miles north of Santa Fe, the San Ildefonso Pueblo is home to over 2,200 people, and the tribe has 750 enrolled members.  

This Pueblo is unique for its vigas or columned porches. A nearby dam supplies irrigation water to grow corn, beans, squash and chili. Many of these items can be seen drying on lines in the back yards of people’s homes. 

The pueblo is a flourishing art community with Maria and Julia Martinez’ world-renowned black-on-black pottery designs. Artisans’ homes throughout the community are open for viewing and shopping, and a museum also displays traditional arts and crafts. San Ildefonso is one of the most visited pueblos in the state with more than 20,000 annual visitors. Other attractions include their annual Feast Day, Black Mesa, Mission San Ildefonso and various traditional dances. 

The Pueblo de San Ildefonso Health and Human Services Department focuses on holistic integrated health and wellness, offering services like a special diabetes program and community health representatives (CHRs). With a median household income of $50-60,000, roughly 20% of San Ildefonso Natives live below poverty level.