Walatowa or Giusewa, "Place at the Boiling Waters," is the traditional name for Jemez Pueblo.
Jemez Pueblo is located 27 miles Northwest of Bernalillo, and serves as the gateway to the Cañon de San Diego and the Jémez Mountain Trail National Scenic Byway.
Jemez Pueblo is the only remaining Towa speaking pueblo. In efforts to prevent exploitation, the tribe’s traditional law makes it illegal to make Towa written a written language, thus it is preserved entirely by the speakers at Jemez Pueblo.
The Jemez people trace their origins back to a place called “Hua-na-tota” and migrated to the “Canon de San Diego Region” sometime between 1275 and 1350 A.D. There they grew into a powerful warrior nation that occupied several villages surrounding the current village of Walatowa. They built many large fortress like villages made of stone on top of mesas that were as many as four stories high and could contain up to 3,000 rooms, and they also built barriers to protect their religious sites, monitor trails and ward off invaders. Between these villages were hundreds of smaller houses used as base camps for hunting in spring and summer. Other pueblo tribes would call on the Jemez military society for help when it was needed.
In 1541, the Jemez people (population 30,000 at the time) came into first contact with the Spanish conquistador Coronado
, followed 40 years later by the Rodriquez-Chamuscado Expedition in 1581, and the Espejo Expedition in 1583
. In 1598 Don Juan de Onate
sent an expedition to Jemez and assigned Franciscan priest Alonzo de Lugo to Jemez. Alonzo de Lugo oversaw the building of the Pueblo’s first church. The next 80 years held many violent uprisings between the Jemez people and Spanish settlers, mostly as a result of unwanted missionary activity, and attempts to restructure Jemez around the church as a central location. Jemez rose up along with the other Pueblos and expelled the Spanish for 12 years during the Pueblo Revolt of 1680
After the Spanish reconquered New Mexico
, the Jemez Nation was moved into the single village of Walatowa. Because of this move, many ancestral lands are held as federal lands, and not part of the current reservation.
In 1838, members of the Pueblo of Pecos
resettled amongst the Jemez to escape the Spanish and Comanche. In 1936 the two Pueblos were legally merged by an Act of Congress.
In the 1970’s Jemez had as much as 70% of its enrolled population (1,890) living on the reservation. Today the population has grown to around 3,400 members.