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Established in the 1300s, the pueblo's full Tiwa name is "Tuf Shur Tia," meaning "Green Reed Place." Sandia derived its modern name when the Spanish first visited in 1539.
The mountains glow with a deep red color at sunset, which the Spanish likened to sandia, the Spanish word for watermelon. The pueblo was deserted in 1680, when the residents fled to Hopi Pueblo during the Pueblo Revolt. The people of Sandia did not return until the mid-1700s; their old village is evident in ruins near the church.
Sandia Pueblo offers plenty for today's visitors, including the always-open Sandia Casino on the east side of I-25 off Tramway Boulevard, in Albuquerque, www.sandiacasino.com (800) 526-9366, and the Bien Mur Indian Market Center, (505) 821-5400, www.bienmur.com, which is one of the largest Native American-owned and operated stores in the Southwest, with arts and crafts, moccasins and drums.
Visitors can fish in one of three stocked lakes totaling 18 surface acres at the tribally run Sandia Lakes, a 70-acre recreation area with developed picnic sites, a natural trail along the Río Grande bosque, playground, group shelters and a bait and tackle shop, (505) 897-3971 or (800) 357-3971. The tribe also operates a buffalo preserve across from the casino and the animals are often visible while driving by on Tramway Boulevard.
Sandia Pueblo is on the northern outskirts of Albuquerque off Exit 235 from I-25 or Tramway Boulevard.