Pueblo of San Ildefonso, Los Alamos, NM

Pueblo de San Ildefonso Church

The history of Pueblo de San Ildefonso dates back to the 1300s when the original inhabitants moved from the Bandelier area to this location after a prolonged drought.  The Pueblo is close to the Rio Grande. These Ancient Puebloans had originally come from the settlement at Mesa Verde, Colorado.

In the 1500s, the Puebloans came in contact with the Spanish. In 1591, Casper Castaño visited the Pueblo. Then, in 1595, Antonio Gutierrez de Umana, and Francisco Leyba de Bonilla headed an unauthorized expedition into New Mexico. They made San Ildefonso their main headquarters.

In 1598, Juan de Oñate came to the area and officially gave the Pueblo its name. Around this time, the village was moved to its present location. Later in 1610, Fray Andrés Bautista created the first permanent mission here.

But the Spanish brought troubles to the people. They required that the Pueblo communities pay tribute to them as well as convert to Catholicism. The Pueblo Revolt of 1680 resulted in the Spanish being expelled from the region for a while, and the San Ildefonso people were a major part of that uprising.

The people resisted the Spanish for several more years after they came back to the area. It wasn’t until 1694 that the Spanish were able to remove the Tewa and Tano people from the mesa. Then, a drought in 1695 that weakened the colonists encouraged the Pueblos to rebel again in 1696. But the mission was reestablished, and a church was built in the village in the 1700s.

In 1821, the area was ruled by Mexico. In 1848, after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, it became part of the United States. After Congress created the reservation system in 1858, a grant of over 17,000 acres of land was given to the village in 1864. It is still a federally recognized tribe.

The Pueblo is today comprised of 60,000 acres and about 750 people live there. It is made up of traditional kivas, a central plaza and a 1960s replica of a 1700s church.

Historical Marker Inscription

Pueblo de San Ildefonso Historical Marker

In the 1500s, migrants from the Pajarito Plateau joined their Tewa-speaking relatives at San Ildefonso. The pueblo is famous as the home of the late Maria Martinez and other makers of polished black pottery. The modern church, a replica of that of 1711, was finished in 1968.


Off State Road 502 along the Rio Grande Valley, East of Los Alamos

N 35.89197, W 106.11836

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