Acoma Pueblo

A Route 66 Road Trip Through Indigenous Homelands

By Shoshi Parks, YES! magazine

The wind is so powerful on top of the mesa that even hours after I’ve returned to the valley below, I’ll be wiping its ancient sand from the cracks and crevices of my skin. In the Keres language, this is Haak’u, New Mexico’s Pueblo of Acoma, a sky city perched on a 300-foot bluff, some 7,000 feet above sea level—the oldest community in the United States. Although there is no running water or electricity, around 50 people live on the mesa year-round in brick homes—some covered in wattle and daub, others in adobe—just as their ancestors have since at least the 12th century. Beyond the pueblo is a 156-square-mile territory of mammoth stone formations and cottonwood trees that road trippers traveling Route 66 have been visiting since the 1950s. But what was once haphazard and unregulated is today a self-sustaining enterprise directed by the Acoma people that welcomed 72,000 visitors...