Acoma Pueblo, also known as Sky City, is located 50 miles west of Albuquerque in New Mexico. It was built over a thousand years ago atop a 360-foot sandstone mesa for defense against raiding tribes. It may be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States (the Hopi village of Old Oraibi in Arizona is its only rival for this distinction). Access to the pueblo is still difficult as the faces of the mesa are nearly vertical. Before modern times access was gained only by means of a hand-cut staircase carved into the sandstone. Only a few dozen tribal members now live on the mesa today; the remaining three thousand or so live in nearby villages. Tribal members farm the land below the mesa top.
The Acoma people speak a form of the Keresan language. It is generally believed that the name 'Acoma' is derived from the Keresan phrase for the 'People of the White Rock'
Native Acoma clay permits very strong thin-walled pottery, and is usually characterized by a brilliant white background, which is achieved by applying a slip of another locally dug clay. Both mineral and vegetal colors are used in decoration. Acoma produced some of the most celebrated potters of the past century and continues to do so today.