The Pueblo of Tesuque, a traditional Tewa-speaking Tribe, is nestled in the soft red-brown foothills of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains within Santa Fe County 10 miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. Situated around a large central plaza, the Pueblo has an air of centuries-old tranquility and has stood on this site since 1200 A.D. An earlier settlement of Tesuque Pueblo, built before 1200 A.D., was abandoned some time after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. The present site has been occupied since its re-establishment in 1694 with a current population of 480 Tribal members and 400 individuals residing within the exterior portions of Tesuque’s Land Grant.
The Pueblo is located in the Pojoaque/Española Basin, a broad structural depression associated with the Rio Grande Rift. The Basin is bound on the east by the Sangre de Cristo uplift and on the west by faults associated with the Rift buried by the Jemez Mountain volcanics. This basin has been filled by coalescing alluvial fans, which have deposited as much as 4,000 feet of sand, silt, gravel and clay derived primarily from the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. The average frost-free season is about 140 to 170 days/year with average annual precipitation ranges from 9 to 12 inches/year. Temperatures in the area can range from 10° F in the winter months to a high of 100° F during the growing season. A six mile stretch of the Tesuque River traverses thorough the Pueblo from the southeastern corner to northwest. This river is of great cultural significance to the Tribe. Along with the Rio Tesuque the Rios En Medio and Chupadero also traverse the Vigil and Aspen Ranch land grants owned by the Pueblo. The People of Tesuque coexist with the natural world on over 17,000 acres of primarily undeveloped pinon/juniper, mixed conifer and riparian forests. These diverse habitats provide resources for many culturally significant biota. The various species of animals and insects found within the Reservation indicate that the overall habitat is still relatively healthy and capable of supporting/sustaining a diverse variety of life. The proposed project area is rich in invertebrates, ungulates such as deer and elk, coyotes, cougars, bobcat, and numerous constituents of the genus Rodentia. A survey conducted several years ago by a community member found over 82 species of birds utilizing the area primarily along the river. The Rio Tesuque is used by neo-tropical migratory birds for nesting during spring and summer while the upper elevation avifauna utilizes the riparian habitat during winter months. Other year-round residents include jays, ravens, owls and several types of hawks.
Tesuque has a great reverence for its traditions and continues to practice ancient customs despite pressures from other cultures. Farming remains one of the primary activities of the Tesuque people, and there are a few Tesuque artists creating traditional work, including pottery. Handcrafted figurines decorated with colorful designs are a popular form with collectors of Native American art. Tesuque artists also create silver and bead jewelry, traditional clothing, painting and weaving.