Sandoval Signpost


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  Around Town

Arrowhead uncovered at Coronado Historic Site
Photo credit: —Ethan Ortega

Clay Mathers finds a Spanish bridle fragment at Coronado Historic Site
Photo credit: —Matthew Barbour

Digging into the past at Coronado Historic Site

~Ethan O. Ortega, Ranger, Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites
& Matthew J. Barbour, Regional Manager, Coronado and Jemez Historic Sites

This summer, Coronado Historic Site, the Office of Archaeological Studies, and the Friends of Coronado Historic Site organized a joint effort to perform the first ever comprehensive survey and test excavations of Coronado Historic Site. Entitled “Dig Kuaua,” the project utilized over seventy-five local volunteers and allowed visitors to get close to real archaeology.

The purpose of the project was to better understand the cultural resources of the property in order to manage them properly. During the survey, archaeologists identified nine new sites on the property and expanded the boundaries of several existing ones, including Kuaua Pueblo. The artifacts from these sites represent the last two thousand years of human history in New Mexico. In addition, hundreds of isolated artifacts were found.

Following up the survey, staff and volunteers worked to dig twenty-three 50-by-50 cm excavation units and over 100 auger tests. These tests were to determine the integrity of artifact concentrations and to delineate the extent of the Kuaua Pueblo site. Over seven thousand artifacts were recovered from this limited testing, including Native American ceramics, flaked stone, and animal bone.

The longstanding boundary of Kuaua Pueblo (LA 187) has been an arbitrary fence line that was built around the main architectural components of the site in the 1930s. Survey and test excavations have revealed that the site boundary is much larger, and includes previously undocumented rooms, including a possible pit structure. These discoveries not only change extent and interpretation of the site, but also focus attention on preserving areas not impacted by archaeologists in the early twentieth century.

Staff has already begun analyzing the artifacts that were recovered during the “Dig Kuaua” project. Friends of Coronado Historic Site volunteers are working with Dr. Hayward Franklin, Research Associate at the University of New Mexico analyzing the ceramics. While Noelle Barnes, a student at Adams State University, has just completed the flaked stone analysis. These studies have the potential to better date construction episodes at the pueblo, detail the types of activities performed, and inform upon Kuaua’s participation in regional trade.

At the same time, several other projects have been underway. Emeritus Archaeologist at the Office of Archaeological Studies, Regge Wiseman has been working to collect and summarize the notes of the 1970 excavation of LA 4955, known to many as Casa Quemada or the Coronado Campground Site. With the help of renowned Archaeologist David Snow, Wiseman has compiled a manuscript that discusses archaeological investigations into several pueblo pit structures pre-dating Kuaua Pueblo, including a kiva believed to date to the thirteenth century.

The site also contained a Spanish Colonial hacienda dating to the 1600s. It is believed to have been the residence of the encomendero, or Spanish overseer, of Kuaua Pueblo and may have been burned in the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Artifacts from this household provide an interesting look at life on the frontier, including a number of spindle whorls and large quantities of sheep and goat bones. These materials demonstrate the importance of animal husbandry and wool industries.

Coronado Historic Site has also not forgotten its namesake. A metal detector survey of the grounds is currently being conducted by Dr. Clay Mathers of the Coronado Institute. This survey is focused on locating evidence of the Coronado Expedition at the site through the recovery of Spanish metal artifacts. While no crossbow bolts or caret-headed nails have been found as of this writing, forged artifacts dating to the Historic Period, including a buckle, part of bridle, and small fragments of what appears to be chainmail, have. These are not definitive signs of the Coronado Expedition, but like all of these archaeological investigations, the artifacts tease at the potential buried under the visitor’s feet.

The story of Coronado Historic Site is ever evolving. Research conducted this summer is part of a greater vision to tell a more complete and accurate narrative. Thanks to the Friends of Coronado Historic Site, the Office of Archaeological Studies, the Coronado Institute, and others this story is being told. To learn more, visit Coronado Historic Site today.

Coronado Historic Site is located at 485 Kuaua Road in Bernalillo. It is open six days a week, Wednesday through Monday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Docent led tours occur on the hour between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. and are free with admission. Admittance is $5 per adult. There is never a charge for children. Coronado Historic Site is free to New Mexico seniors on Wednesday and all New Mexico residents on the first Sunday of every month. For more information, go to or call 867-5351.

First annual Land of Enchantment Blues Festival

New Mexico Jazz Workshop presents the first annual Land of Enchantment Blues Festival slated to be the largest blues festival in the area. On October 7, from noon to 6:30 p.m., Local and National acts will take the stage at Loretto Park in Bernalillo (where the wine festival was previously hosted). This family friendly event will feature top performers such as Danielle Nicole, Holland D. Smith, Chillhouse Band with Hillary Smith, Felix Y Los Gatos, and the Memphis P’ Tails. Local food trucks, craft beer from Kaktus Brewery, artisan wines, and crafts will be available throughout the entertainment. For more information call Vicki at 514-9984 or Dana Koller at 379-5072, send email to, or visit See further details on page 25, this Signpost.

Jemez Arts and Crafts Association presents the second annual Jemez Harvest Festival

On October 7 and 8, from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., at Jemez Pueblo Red Rocks, Jemez Pueblo will host its free Harvest Festival. Local farmers will be selling their harvest and multicultural arts and crafts vendors will be selling their artwork. This event is open to all arts and crafts vendors that live in the Jemez Valley. Cost of exhibiting will be a donation. Bring your own canopies, tables, and chairs.

For more information, visit, contact the Jemez Arts and Crafts Association at, or call 934-5601 or 249-3577.

Save the Space! Wagner’s Farmland Experience set

~Ashley Wagner

Come experience Wagner’s Farmland now through October 31 at 6445 Corrales Road in Corrales. Every year, thousands of children visit the farm for a day of outdoor fun and learning at the pumpkin patch, and to navigate the season’s newly themed design at the corn maze. This year's theme is particularly special: Save The Space.

At the end of 2017, thirty acres of land the Wagner family has leased for over forty years will be listed for sale by the landowners. That includes the farmland where the corn maze currently sits. Because farmers cannot keep pace with the high land prices in Corrales, this majestic piece of land that has inspired countless children will more than likely be sold to housing developers.

In an effort to raise awareness, students and parents alike will navigate their way through a conservation-inspired maze that has been cut into the shapes of wildlife that depend on the farmland and are at risk of losing their home—such as Sandhill Cranes, owls, geese, and roadrunners (the state bird). At each checkpoint in the maze, there will be learning posts about the birds and the importance of conservation. Additionally, teachers and Avian Ambassadors will provide conservation-themed lessons.

For those patrons who feel inclined to help fund our campaign to preserve the farm, there will be donation opportunities at the check-in booth of Wagner’s Farmland Experience. We need your help to protect this farmland and Save the Space.

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