A New Display at Coronado Historic Site: The Indios Amigos

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One of our newest displays just opened this week, featuring an amazing Aztec jaguar warrior statue.  Sponsored by the Friends of Coronado Historic Site, our new exhibit shows us the weapons used by the Indios Amigos who came to support Coronado’s entrada.

Research Projects

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The story of Kuaua Pueblo has been told at Coronado Historic Site for over 75 years, and many of the details have not changed during that time. We know that there is more to the story, so a team of New Mexico Historic Sites staff and volunteers have turned to the artifacts – our direct link to the people who once inhabited this village, to tell us more. 


Current Projects

Get Involved

Complete the form below to contact Ranger Ethan Ortega about research opportunities. 

In the News

Previous Projects


New Mexico History Lesson Plans

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For those educators who are hard at work making plans for their new school year, let us help you out with your curriculum.  If you are a teacher, you will find powerpoints, lesson plans, teacher resource pages, student handouts, and more.  If you aren’t a teacher of New Mexico or southwestern history and you know one, send them this way. : )  All these materials are free for your classroom use and are provided to you through the Department of Cultural Affairs, State of New Mexico!


Our Education Lesson Plan page on this very website  has the following lessons available.  Click here   to find the following lesson plans:

Pueblo Life Through Spanish Eyes:  A lesson plan which uses primary source clips from the Coronado expedition as they describe what they see about the pueblo people of the Rio Grande valley;  

CSI Kuaua:  A lesson plan which includes primary source artifacts and asks students to classify them and decide what a specific room would have been used for within the pueblo;

Who Was Francisco Vasquez de Coronado?:  A lesson plan which asks students to place events in Coronado’s life on a timeline;

The Columbian Exchange:   A lesson plan which compares and contrasts life changes before and after the Europeans arrive on this continent, primarily through viewing the exchange of plants, animals, and ideas between the Old and New World; 

Poetry at Kuaua Pueblo:  A lesson plan that encourages students to write descriptive poetry, analyze an original poem written about Kuaua, and read some articles that were written about this place.  

A Change of Attitude?  This lesson compares the way the pueblo people were treated under the Requierimiento as compared to the New Laws of the Indies of 1542.  Students will be asked to analyze the differences and similarities in the lives of the people.

Turkeys in Ancient Pueblo Life:   A lesson plan which examines the importance and uses of one of the only two domesticated creatures in the Rio Grande valley before the arrival of the Europeans.

A Mission Church in Jemez Pueblo:   A lesson plan  in which students use both primary and secondary sources – including archaeology, architecture, photographs, and census data — to look at life in San Jose de los Jemez Mission.  

Life in Ancient Kuaua:  A lesson plan for elementary students,  based on New Mexico state content standards, which includes an act-it-out classroom activity, creative handouts, and assessments combining notetaking, writing, and art.

Coming soon!

Estevan the Voyager:  A lesson which gives students the opportunity to read the fascinating story of Estevan de Dorantes.  

More to come soon! 😉

Join our Friend’s Group

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From the President – Brian Gilmore

The Board of Directors would like to welcome all who wish to become members of the Friends of Coronado Historic Site.  These are exciting times for all of us who continue to work to make the Friends a vibrant and effective organization.  Our organization has grown from the original nucleus of five interested people to over 376 supportive members.  There will continue be outstanding lectures, workshops and tours, and each activity brings in new members.  For all this I say THANK YOU to the Board and to our membership — you are making a real difference in our Mission “to increase awareness and appreciation of Coronado Historic Site”.

As a Friend You’ll Enjoy These Benefits

You will receive free admission to Coronado Historic Site during regular hours, and to many activities such as demonstrations and lectures. A small fee may be charged for special field trips.

As a Friend, you may also participate in our docent and volunteer programs. You can receive hands-on experience in such activities as archaeological research, historic preservation, and adobe building.

You will also receive the Friends’ quarterly newsletter, and email notices of programs, trips, and other special events.

Perhaps the biggest benefit is the knowledge that your membership donation supports the continued restoration and conservation of the world famous Painted Kiva in addition to other historic structures around the property.

The First Sister Sprouts at Coronado Historic Site: Mystery Beans!

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At Coronado Historic Site, the first of the three sisters to sprout  in our native demonstration garden are mystery beans that no one planted.  Last year’s seeds have taken advantage of  the beautiful warm days  and a little much-needed rain to volunteer a new crop of beautiful, healthy bean plants.

Ranger Annie has been hard at work improving and cultivating the soil, and during the process, last year’s seeds must have been planted.  Two varieties grew in last year’s garden, and cross-pollination occurred as well, so we won’t know what kind of beans these are until they produce seeds of their own in the fall harvest.

New Exhibits at Coronado Historic Site!

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Pottery Images in new display

Artifacts from the past continue to teach us about the ancient village located here on a sandy bluff overlooking the Rio Grande.  As our archaeologists and research team worked with the Kuaua artifacts, previously overlooked pieces have been uncovered for study.  The pottery sherds above depict scenes from life in the pueblo world:  snow geese, horned toads, and macaws brought up from Mexico on ancient trade routes.

Among boxes of pottery pieces, some very unique sherds  waited to be discovered.  On one side of these pots, clay coils were left unsmoothed and exposed, while the other side of the pot was polished as usual.  Was this the favorite design of a pueblo woman who lived centuries ago?  Did this specific design have a special meaning or purpose?   The secrets of Kuaua sometimes bring more questions than answers.  Come explore our newest exhibits to see for yourself!

Dig Kuaua: New Archaeology at Coronado Historic Site

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Painted pottery sherds

May 22 – June 30, 2017 

(Final  Dates Still Being Determined)
Monday – Friday         9:00am – 3:00pm

Sponsored by the Friends of Coronado Historic Site

Explore the ruins of Kuaua Pueblo with archaeologists from the Office of Archaeological Studies. Watch as they sift through the earth finding artifacts and features more than 500 years old. Ask questions and learn what makes Coronado Historic Site such a remarkable place. Docent led tours of the archaeological excavation and the painted kiva will occur on the hour. Call 505-867-5351 for more information.  

Interesting Turkeys at Kuaua

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Archaeology has taught us that the domesticated turkey was a very important part of pueblo life.  Although there is evidence that turkeys were eaten occasionally, it seems that they were more important than just a food source.

In a new display created by Ranger Ethan Ortega, you can see evidence that pre-Columbian Puebloan people knew how to set and heal broken bones.  The artifacts chosen for this display are  bones that have been broken and healed straight, something that just couldn’t happen in nature.  One of the conclusions that we might reach is that the turkeys were valued for the turkey feathers,  used ceremonially, as well as to make blankets to provide warmth for the people during cold winters.

Winter Days at Kuaua

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The winter landscape at Kuaua:  dark rust willows and tall black-lace cottonwoods line the river, and behind the bosque, snow is scattered on the cloud-shrouded Sandia Mountains.  The cold Rio Grande sluggishly flows through the bosque, its eastern shore lined with Canada geese huddled together to find warmth.  How different life must have been here for the ancient residents of this pueblo, a life based on fires, fur, and blankets made of feathers.

New Armor in the Museum!

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The display of hands-on Spanish arms and armor in our museum is an example of some of the types of armor used in sixteenth century New Spain. Some important examples used here in early Spanish New Mexico were missing. matt-barbour-in-new-armor

Our goal was to find some examples, especially of armor, which exemplify what was used in the New World in the sixteenth century. As this is manager Matt Barbour’s area of expertise, he suggested that we add examples of a brigandine vest, lance tips, an adarga shield, a sallet helmet, an arming jacket, and a bevor.  

The addition of more arms and armor to the display of Spanish arms increases the number of hands-on articles in our museum and helps us explain to visitors and students, in a visual and kinesthetic way, some of the kinds of arms and armor used in 1541.

The adarga shield is currently being handmade by an artisan, and will be on display when it is completed. The other items are all here now, and can be seen and tried on in our museum. Come to Coronado  and try on some armor for an awesome new Facebook profile picture,  courtesy of the Friends of Coronado Historic Site.