When I came to Southern New Mexico I quickly learned about Juan de Onate and his arrival in what is now New Mexico in 1598, which led to the founding of the city of Santa Fe in 1608.  Onate came north along the Rio Grande with troops, cattle and sheep and religious men eager to convert the local inhabitants.  They were coming to stay.

I only later learned that Coronado had reached New Mexico much earlier.  His itinerary, which was primarily a search for gold, took him north into Arizona first, then across into New Mexico, reaching the Rio Grande a little north of Albuquerque.

Rio Grande by Kuaua Pueblo

Rio Grande by Kuaua Pueblo

On one of my recent trips to Albuquerque I took time to visit the Coronado Historic Site, which should properly be called Kuaua Pueblo, one of several communities of the Tiwa people.  Coronado arrived in this part of New Mexico in the winter of 1541, and demanded support for his troops from several local pueblos.

The museum part of the site was undergoing restoration, but there was a tour of reconstructed buildings, from which I learned some of the more recent history of the site.  There was much work done on the site in preparation for the 400th anniversary.  Excavations were done, covered over and replaced with reconstructions.  Unfortunately the reconstructions were done in adobe, and the wind and weather wore them down in a matter of years.

Early Restoration

Early Restoration

More recent restorations, still on top of the excavations, have been done in more durable materials.

Recent restoration

Recent restoration

More recent research has revealed that this site is misnamed because this was not the pueblo where Coronado quartered his troops.  That site is two miles to the south.  It came into private hands and now has condominiums on it.  So the Kuaua pueblo keeps Coronado’s name.

Outline of Kuaua plaza kiva

Outline of Kuaua plaza kiva

So, in addition to historical lessons from centuries ago, this site demonstrates the more recent history of restoration and research.

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