The Poeh Cultural Center and Museum is located in the Pueblo of Pojoaque – a 20 minute drive north from the downtown Santa Fe. The center is run by the Pueblo of Pojoaque, serving Tewa communities — the Pueblos of Pojoaque, Nambe, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Ohkay Owingeh and Tesuque — and is the “path” (Poeh) that the Pueblo of Pojoaque is taking to preserve and revitalize their communities in the northern Rio Grande Valley.
I first visited the Poeh Cultural Center and Museum in September 2019 when the center’s staff was preparing for an exhibition called Di Wae Powa, undertaken in partnership with the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian (NMAI). I was very happy to see the exhibition during my New Mexico visit this time.
Throughout the late 1800s and early 1900s, anthropologists came to New Mexico and purchased belongings and artifacts from what was thought to be “the vanishing Indian.” They collected the “life” of the communities and over time much of the Tewa pottery ended up in the collection of the NMAI.
In 2015, the Poeh Museum Staff and Tewa representatives traveled to Washington D.C. to select 100 pots for a long term loan to the Poeh Museum from the Smithsonian. After much work from both institutions, one hundred pots have returned home.
So after an absence of a century, 100 pieces of Tewa pottery have returned to the community. A cup is not just a cup. Each cup, vessel, canister, and indeed every object has a ceremonious and spiritual content. Now 100 ancestors have returned home.
After all the injuries caused by colonialism in the Southwest, it feels so long overdue to have these objects returned to their ancestral home.
The center just re-opened and the new hours are Monday through Saturday from 9am -5pm.