Owned by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, this cultural center is a perfect first stop on your journey to explore the varied cultures of native peoples in the state—and a place where the native peoples are the authors of their story. It is the only such place to be owned by a consortium of sovereign nations in the U.S. Founded in 1976, the center marked its 40th anniversary with a renovated and reimagined permanent exhibit, We Are of this Place: The Pueblo Story.
The interactive exhibit takes visitors on a journey from the Puebloan emergence story, through its traditional arts and heritage, through its take on challenges (such as the Indian Boarding School movement) and demonstrations of perseverance. The D-shaped structure features a central, open-air courtyard where visiting groups from New Mexico and Arizona present social dances each weekend and more frequently during peak periods such as April’s American Indian Week and October’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. (Traditional ritual dances may only be performed at the pueblos certain times of year. These social dances give the flavor of the ritual dances but may be performed at any time.)
The center also features a worthwhile shop, Shumakolowa Gifts, with authentic Native American–made art, particularly jewelry, straight from the pueblos. The Pueblo Harvest Cafe continues to win local favor for its blend of traditional and contemporary Native foods, such as mutton stew, fry bread, and pecan-crusted rabbit loin. Perhaps unexpectedly, the center’s Friday evening Party on the Patio, with live music and a fresh-from-the-horno pizza buffet has become one of the city’s most vibrant happy hours.