Kuaua and Coronado State Monument, Bernalillo, New Mexico

ABQjournal: Coronado Today Kicks Off a Celebration of New Mexico Monuments’ 75th Anniversary By Kathleene Parker, For the Journal

Today, Kuaua and the state monument that protects it, Coronado, will launch the 75th anniversary of the founding of New Mexico’s monuments. Coronado State Monument shelters Pueblo and Spanish Colonial artifacts and is a vastly restored monument over what existed just months ago. …

Kuaua, a Tiwa word for evergreen, has long graced the spectacular landscape south of the Jemez River’s confluence with the Rio Grande near Bernalillo. The Sandia Mountains loom mightily a short distance to the southeast and the bosque along the Rio provides a montage of seasonal colors.

But today’s setting is sometimes less than bucolic, with a casino and golf course, busy U.S. Highway 550 and other urbanization rapidly encroaching on the monument’s fringes. But a recent half-million dollar restoration and renovation reflect plans for a bright future for the monument.

The March 14, 1931, creation of the state monuments network was based on wording almost identical to the federal Antiquities Act, whose 100th anniversary is also this year. …

Kuaua, famous for the multi-colored murals in one of its kivas, has stood overlooking the Rio Grande since about 1300, although the site contained pithouses long before that.

“There are not many of these painted kivas anywhere around,” said [Coronado Monument manager Scott] Smith, a broad-shouldered, burly man with a more-than-passing admiration and knowledge of the site under his care.

During its heyday, the Tiwa village of Kuaua may have been upwards of 1,200 rooms, perhaps stood four stories high and covered about 30 acres, one of perhaps 20 Tiguex Province pueblos between today’s towns of Bernalillo and Los Lunas. Many thousands of people lived in the valley, Smith said.

Sandia and Isleta pueblos are also Tiwa— a reference to the language spoken— as is Picuris, north of Santa Fe, and Taos pueblo, north of Taos.

Coronado’s expedition of 1540 likely camped south of Kuaua, near today’s River’s Edge III subdivision on the Rio Grande’s west bank. Nails of a type known to have been used only by that expedition were found in an excavated campsite there, Smith said.

Kuaua was abandoned sometime after the 1598 Entrada of Juan de Onate and subsequent heavy Spanish settlement of the area.

WHERE: Coronado State Monument. Take I-25 to Bernalillo exit No. 242 at N.M. 165, go west on U.S. 550 across the Rio Grande and follow the signs to the monument.