The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center launches a colorful, new hot-air balloon. Courtesy of Colibri Media House.

INSPIRED BY THE DANCE KILTS WORN during ceremonies at many of New Mexico’s 19 pueblos, the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center’s new hot-air balloon creates a striking scene against the clouds. Adorned in black, white, and red, Eyahne on the Horizon (eyahne means “blessing” in Keres) launched this fall, in partnership with Rainbow Ryders, as New Mexico’s largest balloon. At 86 feet tall and 68 feet wide, it can carry up to 14 passengers. But more than its size, it’s the IPCC-designed graphics that will lift your spirits when it floats through the sky.

Indian Cultural Center Hot Air Balloon Detail

  • The black upward-pointing triangle in the top ring symbolizes “you” moving forward and upward to achieve your goals and help others do the same.

  • The black steplike shapes near the top suggest clouds that frame the white sunlight shining down to earth. “It represents our connection with our spirits, our loved ones who are watching over us,” says Michael Lucero, a member of San Felipe Pueblo and a manager at the cultural center. “We feel that spiritual connection from ourselves to our higher spirit, a place where you feel like you’re in the clouds and in the heavens.”

Indian Cultural Center Hot Air Balloon Detail

  • Red arrows separating the lower ring evoke the dual connection to earth and higher spirits. White lines bisecting the arrows represent the path to heaven, already traveled by ancestors. 

  • The alternating red triangles represent rain clouds with white streaks pouring from them. “Water is life. Water sustains and refreshes life,” Lucero says. “Rain nourishes the ground. It nourishes our bodies and our livestock.”

Indian Cultural Center Hot Air Balloon Detail

  • The red rectangles in the lower ring signify the ground, with corn sprouting in white from a triangle at the center. “It’s used in prayer and everyday life,” Lucero says. “I start my day reaching for a handful of cornmeal. We use it for our offerings when we pray, giving it as a thank-you. When it’s tossed out, it goes into the ground, it goes into the earth. It’s picked up by insects and birds that pollinate. It’s viewed as a continuous cycle. It represents growth. It represents life.”

  • The black-and-white dashes symbolize the continuous cycle of life, the connections among our lives, the lives of those who have come before us, and the lives still to follow.


Read More: Stephanie Oyenque, the cultural education specialist at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, in Albuquerque, wants you to take control of your story.

Read More: Non-Native photographers have long staged pictures of Native people, but a contemporary Diné-Chicana documentarian explores the power of indigenous expression.

Read More: My first ride in one of Albuquerque's hot-air balloons was everything.