New Mexico: Santo Domingo


The Kewa Pueblo (aka Santo Domingo) is home to the descendants of those who once lived at Chaco Canyon. They moved to the great pueblo at Mesa Verde before ending up in nearby Bandelier, New Mexico. The current pueblo has been moved many times due to flooding along the Rio Grande. 

The Keresan-speaking Santo Domingo people have held onto their traditional values with a strong sense of unity, despite plenty of contact with outside cultures. They have been able to integrate selected aspects of other cultures without compromising their beliefs, values or identities, successfully ‘walking in two worlds’. 

The Santo Domingo historically had a strong agricultural base and were at the center of many trade routes. The mission in Santo Domingo was the chief Spanish Mission in this region of New Mexico, and the pueblo was the regional headquarters for Spanish activity. 

Located near the ancient Cerrillos turquoise mines, the Santo Domingo are still recognized today for their fine jewelry and heishi produced from these colorful stones. 


Some Kewa residents live in new housing, although much of the older village resembles Mexican villages of today. Large numbers of people here move about the streets in the evenings to congregate and socialize. 

Adamant about preserving their culture and traditions, the Kewa host the international recognized ceremonial dance honoring the pueblo’s patron saint, St. Dominic, every year. The tribe operates a cultural center and small museum for visitors interested in learning more about the pueblo. Their famous jewelry, pottery and silverwork can be found on many roadside stands, as well as during the annual arts and crafts market with over 350 Native artists.  

Health care is primarily provided by their Community Health Representative (CHR) program, offering home visits, vital checks, optometry, environmental services and more, and they also have an emergency medical team of 19 EMS/Fire professionals. There is also a senior center, childcare and development center, family wellness center and early childhood learning center. 

The community has a population of about 2,800 people, and there are more than 2,000 enrolled members. The median income is $40,598 and the poverty rate is 21.9%.