San Ildefonso Pueblo

Route 5 Box 315-A, San Ildefonso Pueblo , New Mexico 87506


San Ildefonso is one of the best known New Mexico Pueblos because of the famous black-on-black pottery which originated there and which was revived in the nineteen-twenties.

At that time San Ildefonso, like many other Pueblos, was suffering a severe economic depression. Long standing internal conflicts, encroachment upon tribal lands by squatters and illegal cutting of timber all contributed to the low subsistence level to which the Pueblo had fallen. When American Indian crafts began to be popular with collectors, it was fortunate for the San Ildefonso people, because although the Pueblo population was small, there were a number of skilled artisans, makers of pottery and painters, who set to work to improve the economic condition of the Pueblo. Before long, the outstanding quality of San Ildefonso pottery became known. It was then that the famous black pots were revived, primarily because of Maria Martinez.

Today, they command the respect of world-wide collectors of fine art. Other artists, potters and watercolor painters came to the attention of the public and although the Pueblo is one of the smallest in population, it is among the best known.

The San Ildefonso people have lived in the present site since before thirteen hundred A.D. They have a strong sense of identity and retain ancient ceremonies and rituals tenaciously, as well as tribal dances.

A particularly important festival is the Buffalo Deer Dance, performed in San Ildefonso’s feast day.

Other dancers are held in June, July and September. Many painters of the Pueblo have depicted these and other ceremonies in their watercolor paintings.

Education is highly valued by the San Ildefonso people. They are Tewa speakers, with English as a second language for most of them. A high proportion of students from the pueblo go on to college after high school or to vocational schools for job training.