Acamo Pueblo has been continuously occupied longer than any other town or settlement in the US. The Acamo people have been there since early in the 1100s. The Spanish came along in the 1700s and tried to take over. The Acamo people did the equivalent of smiling-and-waving – they tried to get on with the Spanish, and just went about their business. So when the Spanish told them that they could no longer worship in their own way – in small round buildings with an entryway in the roof – the Acamo people decided to worship in square buildings that looked just like their homes. So that the Spanish didn't notice that there was a ladder to the roof for the entry, they put ladders up to the roofs of all the houses in the settlement – and just continued in their worship. Somewhere along the way, some Spanish catholicism got mixed in with it as well.
Acamo is built on the top of a mesa – that's the top of a hill that looks like it's top has been chopped off to form the flat tabletop. Our guide told us that it was originally built there so that the tribe could see approaching enemies. There are a number of people who live on the mountain, in homes that are passed down from mother to youngest daughter in each family. There's no water or power on the mountain, so that means all water is carted up from the valley. That's not so bad now – there are pick up trucks all over the place – but before trucks and cars and roads were there to do the job, it all had to be carted by hand.
The only way into the settlement – unless you're a member of the tribe – is with a guide. Our guide Fred was a member of tribe. It was really special to see the respect and kindness that people showed to each other as we walked around the village. It seemed real, and not at all put on for the tourists.