Published on December 10, 2010 by John
Coronado, New Mexico’s first state monument to open to the public, was dedicated on May 29, 1940, as part of the Cuarto Centenario commemoration (400th Anniversary) of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado’s entry into New Mexico.
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Although it is named for Vasquez de Coronado, who camped in the vicinity in 1540–1542, this archeological site is most noted for the ruins of Kuaua pueblo. The pueblo or village was settled about 1300 and abandoned toward the end of the 16th century. Kuaua was one of several Tiwa-speaking pueblos in the area when the conquistador Vasquez de Coronado arrived, and the village was almost certainly abandoned due to the after effects of the Tiguex War (February 1541).
The ruins of Kuaua Pueblo were excavated in the 1930s by an archeological team led by Edgar Lee Hewett and Margery Tichy. The excavation revealed a south-to-north development over the village’s three centuries of existence, as well as six kivas built in round, square and rectangular shapes. The site is particularly noted for a series of pre-contact (pre-1492) murals that were recovered from a square kiva in the pueblo’s south plaza. These murals represent one of the finest examples of pre-contact Native American art to be found anywhere in North America. Fifteen of the murals are displayed in Coronado State Monument’s visitor center.
The visitor center itself was designed by Southwest architect John Gaw Meem and contains displays of Pueblo Indian and Spanish Colonial artifacts. An interpretive trail winds through the ruins and along the west bank of the Rio Grande.