Poeh Culture Center at Pojoaque
The Pojoaque Pueblo area was first settled around 500 AD and the population grew until it peaked in the 1500's. That was about the same time the Spanish first arrived. The first Franciscan mission was built at the pueblo in the early 1600's but the people were already hurting under the impact of Spanish taxes, forced labor and continuous efforts to force conversion to Christianity. That all added up to Pojoaque being in the forefront of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Immediately following the revolt, Pojoaque was abandoned and wasn't resettled until about 1706 when many Pojoaque's trickled back from the Cuartelejo area on the plains of west Kansas. By then the major Spanish retributions had died down and it was relatively safe to return, surrender and pledge allegiance anew. Franciscans were also being replaced with Jesuits and the religious fervor receded from the heights reached during the Inquisition.
The population of the reestablished pueblo grew slowly but they saw increasing problems from non-Indian encroachment until President Abraham Lincoln recognized the pueblo as an official tribe. Some documents say he awarded the tribe with an official land grant in 1864 and gave a silver cane to the tribe's governor. Other documents say the tribe was given a quit-claim deed... However it worked out, the tribe did gain some legal standing and was able to reestablish its presence until 1900 when a severe smallpox epidemic caused the pueblo to be abandoned again (the Cacique (the tribe's religious leader) died and Governor Jose Antonio Tapia left the reservation to find work).
In 1934 the Commissioner of Indian Affairs placed newspaper ads around the area calling for all Pojoaque tribal members to come back and reoccupy the pueblo lands or tribal ownership would be dissolved under the Indian Re-Organization Act. Shortly, 14 members of the Villareal, Tapia, Romero and Gutierrez/Montoya families were awarded land grants from the Pueblo land base. By 1936 tribal enrollment reached 263 members and Pojoaque became a Federally recognized Indian Reservation.
During the time of abandonment, many Pojoaque tribe members moved to nearby Santa Clara and San Juan Pueblos. Those Pojoaque who were making pottery at the time learned new things from their neighbors and when they later returned to Pojoaque, traditional pottery making changed with all the cross-pollination of styles and designs. Some potters, though, returned to making only traditional Pojoaque styles and designs. Today there is hardly any pottery being made at Pojoaque as so many tribal members are employed in one or another of the tribe's many commercial enterprises.
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