A definite must-see in Albuquerque is the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, a museum and cultural center with a wealth of information about the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico.
I visited the center on a weekend, which is an ideal time to visit because native dances are performed on Saturdays and Sundays. I made it just in time to see Cachini dancers from the Zuni Pueblo.
The dancers performed three dances over the course of about an hour: the rainbow and corn dance, turkey and deer dance, and buffalo dance. The Zuni Pueblo is one of the biggest in New Mexico and the dancers shared that the songs they dance to are more like a prayer, while the hand gestures the make during the dance are basically giving you blessings. It was also nice that they allowed photography and videos, as some groups don’t.
After the performance, I approached the group to take a photo with them (total tourist request – I know, haha) and I one of the guys was saying that they treat their drums like women. He added that their handmade drums are like blessings.
I’d say the native dances were the highlight of my time at the center. It’s crazy how being in New Mexico felt so much like being in another country because I got to learn about and meet Native Americans.
Apart from the dances, though, for people who might visit on a weekday, there is a ton of information inside the center. I’d say an hour or so is enough time to peruse the more than 2,500 pieces inside, which include things like woven baskets, pottery, tools, and videos.
There’s even an exhibit where you can learn to say certain phrases in various Native American languages.
Another great part of the cultural center is the Pueblo Harvest Cafe, which serves Pueblo & Southwestern fusion cuisine. I ordered the Rio Pueblo Buffalo Arepa with a side of calabacitas, as well as a Jumbo Cheese Jemez Enchilada to go. No photos of them here because I was hungry, but you can check out their lunch menu if you’re curious. The Arepa is the image under Sandwiches and the enchilada is under A La Carte. The food at the cafe is delicious and I had a great time chatting with the friendly servers. It’s a worthwhile dining option if you’re in the area.
There’s also a gift shop if you’re interested in purchasing souvenirs.
Admission to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center is only $8.40 for adults, and it’s worth every single penny. I highly recommend going to the center if you’re ever in Albuquerque. There’s so much to learn and I would come back if I’m ever in the city again.