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14 Ways to Celebrate Native American Heritage Month in New Mexico

November is National Native American Heritage Month, a tribute to the rich ancestry and traditions of Native Americans. We invite you to commemorate this special month right here in New Mexico, home to 23 pueblos, tribes, and nations and more than 1,000 years of Native culture. We’re also home to five of USA Today’s 10 Best Native American Experiences.

Here’s how you can celebrate Native American Heritage Month in the Land of Enchantment.

1. Experience a living history at Acoma Pueblo Sky City

Acoma Sky City was voted the top USA Today Native American Experience and is a three-time recipient of the Trip Advisor Excellence Award. Take a Native-guided tour to this mesa-top pueblo dating back to 1100 A.D. Museum exhibits and a gift shop are also on site.

2. Visit one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities at Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo, #2 on USA Today’s Best Native American Experience, is the only Native American community designated both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark. In a community over 1,000 years old, the multi-story adobe buildings remain largely unchanged from what Spanish explorers found in 1540. Native-guided tours depart every 20 minutes year-round.

3. Immerse yourself in culture at Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

A visit to Albuquerque’s Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is a must-do, as it is known as the Gateway to the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. The center celebrated its 40th anniversary in 2016, and it built a permanent exhibit, “We Are of This Place: The Pueblo Story” to commemorate the occasion. The center is home to several rotating exhibits, as well as the Pueblo Harvest, the onsite café, which features a pre-contact menu, as well as several themed dinners, such as a pairing dinner with Bow & Arrow Brewing Co., a Native-owned brewery. It also features traditional Native dances each weekend, and it is the home of the 5th Annual Pueblo Film Fest, taking place from November 16-18 and is only film festival in the country devoted to the work of Pueblo filmmakers and actors.

4. Take a step back in history at Puye Cliffs

Grab a guided tour at Puye Cliff Dwellings in Española. Puye Cliffs were once home to the ancestors of the Santa Clara Pueblo, and the mesa-top remains of the old civilization are preserved and able to be explored. The site was first inhabited around 900 A.D., and visitors can revel in the spectacular views of the stunning Sangre de Cristo mountain range. Tours depart hourly.

5. Partake in a Native feast day or celebration

Each of the state’s pueblos hold Feast Days, where they open the Pueblo to the public in celebration of a patron Saint. November 12 is the annual San Diego Feast Day for the Tesuque and Jemez Pueblos, Thanksgiving is Zuni Pueblo’s Christmas Light Parade, and Thanksgiving weekend is Acoma Pueblo/Sky City’s Annual Indian Arts & Crafts Show & Auction.

6. Participate in an authentic Native American experience at Tamaya

The Hyatt Regency Tamaya Resort, owned by the Santa Ana Pueblo, offers spectacular vistas and views of the Sandia Mountains and cultural activities to resort guests. Try your hand at traditional Pueblo bread baking, work with a tribal member to create and paint a pottery piece or make your own dream catcher, just to name a few. Traditional Native dances are held every Saturday and are open to the public.

7. Tour Jemez Pueblo with a “Cultural Ed-Venture”

The Hemish People invite you to the experience of a lifetime with a Native-guided custom tour. Artist demonstrations, bread baking, and a full Pueblo feast are part of your day. You can also take a guided hike through the breathtaking Jemez Red Rocks. Call ahead to schedule and customize your tour.

8. Attend the Crownpoint Navajo Rug Auction and take home a unique piece of culture

Crownpoint on the Navajo Nation is home to this prime venue for buyers and weavers of genuine Navajo rugs. On November 9 (and every second Friday of the month), come and participate in (or witness) the Crownpoint Navajo Rug Auction, an event that helps keep the Navajo rug weaving tradition passing from mother to daughter. Rugs are on display after 4 p.m., and the auction begins at 7 p.m. Navajo tacos are also sold on site.

9. Explore one of the most significant archaeological sites of the Southwest at Chaco Culture National Historical Park

Chaco Canyon, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a major Puebloan urban center from 850 to 1250 A.D. It was home to some of the largest buildings in North America until the 19th century. Today, you can experience the ruins of these ancestral Puebloan homelands with guided walks year-round. 

10. Discover Spanish and Puebloan peoples’ early encounters at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument

Just 90 miles southeast of Albuquerque in Mountainair, three sets of Pueblo mission ruins stand as a reminder of a unique era. The ruins (constructed in the early 1600s) of Gran Quivira, Quarai, and Abó sit on the site of historic trade communities of Tiwa- and Tompiro-speaking people. Mission units are open daily, and guided tours are available with advance notice.

11. Climb the cliffs and take in some of the most significant remnants of ancient Puebloan people in New Mexico

Southwest New Mexico was home to the people of the prehistoric Mogollon culture, dating back to 1200 A.D. Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument north of Silver City offers visitors a chance to explore this ancient place. A half-mile hike takes you to the trailhead.

12. Get a unique perspective of colonial New Mexico at Jemez Historic Site

Established to preserve the 14th-century ruins of Giusewa Pueblo — a traditional village of the Jemez people — and the 17th-century ruins of San Jose de los Jemez Mission, Jemez Historic Site offers a museum and interpretive trail. Ranger-led tours, available daily at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., offer an intimate experience with Jemez tribal members.

13. Walk Through Albuquerque’s Ancient History

Petroglyph National Monument can be found on Albuquerque’s west side, and protects one of the largest petroglyph sites in North America, featuring designs and symbols carved onto volcanic rocks by Native Americans and Spanish settlers 400 to 700 years ago.

14. Hints of Native Culture in New Mexico’s Hotels

Hotel Chaco, Albuquerque’s newest luxury property located in Old Town, was completed in 2017 and was inspired by Chaco Canyon. Its rooftop restaurant and bar, Level 5, features indigenous cuisine with a modern twist, and the hotel's sister company, Heritage Inspirations, offers day tours and glamping trips to Chaco Canyon. Nativo Lodge in Albuquerque houses 38 Artist Rooms and is continuously contracting local Native artists to decorate a space. And the Hotel Santa Fe in downtown Santa Fe is owned by the local Picuris Pueblo — Santa Fe’s only Native-owned hotel — and has a spa on-site that offers Native-inspired treatments.