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Discovering Historic New Mexico: The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center

By Allison Wilson

Any good discussion of New Mexican history should cover the culture and contributions of the Pueblo people. The Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, or IPCC, is a world-class museum and cultural center that was created to tell that unique and vibrant story.

Unlike many other Native tribes, Pueblo people were never forcibly removed from their traditional homelands, and their connection to their ancestral homeland in what is now New Mexico is very strong.

IPCC was founded in 1976 by the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. Its permanent exhibition "Our Land, Our Culture, Our Story" illustrates how the Pueblo came to be and how they have survived. This exhibition also houses a renowned collection of Pueblo pottery, including both historic artifacts and contemporary works, from well-known potters like Maria Martinez and Lucy M. Lewis. This collection will be undergoing a major renovation in 2015-2016, and in 2016, a Grand Opening event has been planned to coincide with IPCC's 40th anniversary of celebrating the Pueblo culture.

The IPCC gives visitors an immersive foray into that culture and how it has influenced New Mexico. Its cultural arts and education program provides tours focusing on Pueblo culture, history and art to more than 4,000 visiting students every year, and its library and archives are a center of research for Pueblo historians with more than 5,000 volumes.

IPCC is also the only place in North America to offer traditional Native American dances every week, year-round. The center showcases dance groups from the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, as well as Plains Style, Navajo and Hopi performers from New Mexico and the Southwest. For many visitors, this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see Native American dances being performed in much the same way they have been for hundreds of years. Traditional Native American dance is offered every weekend, as well as on Fridays during the summer.

Additionally, IPCC is also home to 19 murals by some of the most noted Pueblo artists, including great painter Pablita Velarde of Santa Clara and her daughter Helen Hardin. Seven of these murals are found in the central courtyard inspired by traditional Pueblo structures. Native American artists including jewelers, potters, painters and weavers come to the IPCC daily to sell handcrafted works. Visitors can meet these artists and learn about their work.

Museum visitors can also learn about Pueblo Cuisine. IPCC features a Native fusion restaurant and bakery from acclaimed chef Michael Giese called Pueblo Harvest Café. It incorporates traditional flavors into contemporary cooking and reinvents and challenges ideas of what Native American cuisine is. Every Friday and Saturday night, Pueblo Harvest Café hosts Party on the Patio, where guests can enjoy live music, all-you-can-eat horno baked pizza and spectacular views of the Sandia Mountains.

IPCC also hosts a year-round schedule of exciting events that celebrate the art, history and culture of Pueblo people, including artist talks, lectures, film screenings and art markets.

"For centuries Pueblo people have been characterized by their innovation and resilience, long before New Mexico was a state or even a territory," says Travis Suazo, Executive Director of the IPCC. "Our focus is to acknowledge those that have come before us, those that are here with us now, and those yet to be born."

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Allison Wilson is an award-winning writer and communications professional whose...

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