Indigenous Connections & Collections

This blog aspires to connect readers to Indigenous* resources, information, and fun stuff at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center (IPCC) and online. Each month, new content will be shared on various themes.

March 4, 2023

May is a celebration of spring in the Northern Hemisphere. Among the month’s observances, we celebrate the contributions and heritage of Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islanders. Read the 2023 Presidential Proclamation

This month’s blog features a guest blog that I wrote about Dr. Joe Sando for the online April edition of Pasa por Aqui, an initiative of the New Mexico Humanities Council. Reprinted by permission.

Dr. Joe S. Sando

Telling our stories: Pueblo author and teacher, Dr. Joe S. Sando

Despite the Pueblo’s long history in the Southwest, little has been written about Pueblo people and our contributions to history. What was written, especially for children, was not always complimentary and lacked accuracy. Dr. Joe S. Sando set out to change that, to correct misconceptions and misinformation. He became one of the first Pueblo people to research, write and talk about our history.

Sando was born on August 1, 1923 into the Sun Clan at Walatowa (Jemez Pueblo) and that was where he grew up. His childhood was typical of Pueblo boys in the 1930s and 40s. When not in school, he herded rams, tended to baby lambs and worked at sheep camp with his brother, Frank. He irrigated and hoed the garden and fields, cut wheat and fetched drinking water.

Joe graduated from Santa Fe Indian School in 1941 then enrolled at Highlands University for the 1942 fall semester. Rather than get drafted to the Army, he signed up for the Navy because the recruiting poster said he would learn a trade in the service. But, he writes, “neither I nor any of my boot camp mates went to any school.”

In 1944, Sando applied to be a yeoman striker (office clerk and typist). He had taken the time to learn to type while at boot camp Liberty in San Diego. He and boot camp mate Ricardo Otero from Tamaya(Santa Ana Pueblo) would go to the United Service Organization (USO), put a quarter in a typewriter and type for an hour. That skill certainly helped years later when he wrote an editorial column for the Albuquerque Tribune. Sando was honorably discharged in April 1946.

Military service gave Joe the opportunity to attend college on the G.I. Bill. He enrolled at Eastern New Mexico University in Portales in the fall of 1946. He graduated in 1949 with a degree in education. Over the next 10 years, Sando worked in various occupations at schools, met his dream girl, Louisa Barry Parker, married and started a family, and started graduate school at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

In the 1960s, Joe served as consultant to the UNM Cultural Awareness Center, and with the Albuquerque and Bernalillo Public Schools. He gave lectures to the teachers on the problems Native children face in getting an education and on their socio-cultural background.

Sando started on the path of education with the All Indian Pueblo Council (AIPC) Education Community in 1969. He organized education conferences and worked to make Native students aware of higher education opportunities.

In 1970, Joe joined the Southwest Cooperative Education Laboratory (SWCEL) at UNM, where he developed curricula, spoke at workshops and taught Pueblo Indian and Southwest Indian history. In 1982, he began teaching ethno-history of North, Central and South America at the Institute of American Indian Arts (IAIA) in Santa Fe, New Mexico.Sando received funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 1978 to research and write. He states in his autobiography, Pueblo Recollections: The Life of Paa Péh – Joe S. Sando, that his writing career started in 1949, his senior year at Eastern New Mexico University. Dr. Thelma Mallory said, “Did you know you can write?” In typical Joe Sando fashion, he told her, “Why do you tell me this now? I could have relished this compliment a thousand 

times when I was in English 102.” Thus begin his research and writing of several books on Pueblo history and highlighted the stories of people that helped shape Pueblo life. 

In 1985, Joe came to the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center as a volunteer. He was assigned to the archives and the Institute for Pueblo Indian Studies (IPIS), which was established to be a library, to plan and direct educational programming and research projects. Here, he answered phone calls and email (those typing skills helped again!) from all over the world, from people wanting to know more about American Indians. Joe provided recommendation for books, was interviewed and filmed speaking on various topics, read transcripts and, sometimes, unexpectedly provided a Pueblo visitor their genealogy.

The IPCC Archives holds his research material, book drafts, speeches, correspondence and honors and awards. (I did the preliminary organization of his papers and can say there is some interesting material in here!) Of note, Joe received the Excellence in Humanities Awards from the New Mexico Endowment for the Humanities on November 1, 2000.

Throughout his life, Joe served the Pueblo and Native communities. He was an interpreter, guidance counselor, adviser, audiometric screener, project director, curriculum developer, instructor, speaker, researcher, writer, lecturer, a historian and a subject specialist, and world traveler. He was on several boards and won awards for his books. In 2008, Albuquerque Mayor Martin Chavez, through an Executive Order, proclaimed October 25th Joe Sando Day. The University of New Mexico awarded him an Honorary Doctorate in 2007. His enduring legacy is honored by the Joe Sando Symposium on Pueblo Indian Studies which brings together Indigenous scholars to highlight their work.

And so we go―Pueblo scholars and researchers alike―traveling in the footsteps made by Dr. Joe S. Sando to add our voices to history, to increase representation, to honor our ancestors.

Sando Books

Here are the books Dr. Sando authored, available to read in the library. Some of these titles are available for purchase at the Indian Pueblo Store.

Nee Hemish: A History of Jemez Pueblo (1982)

In this intimate account of Jemez Pueblo from distant times to the modern era, historian Joe S. Sando profiles a multi-faceted history of one of the most vital and enduring of the Pueblo Indian communities of New Mexico. Sando writes about the events he describes with the authority of a participant and a witness. He follows the story of the Hemish (people of Jemez) from the origins and development of Pueblo civilization to the continuing struggles to maintain the sovereignty, land and water rights so vital to the survival of the Pueblo people today. A unique and nuanced account of the Jemez people of New Mexico.

Pueblo Nations: Eight Centuries of Pueblo Indian History (1992)

Pueblo Nations is the story of a vital and creative culture, of a people sustained by ages-old traditions and beliefs, who have adapted to the radical challenges of the modern world. Written by a respected writer, educator, and elder of the Jemez Pueblo, this rare, insider’s view of the history of the 19 Indian Pueblos of New Mexico illuminates Pueblo historical traditions dating from millennia before the arrival of Columbus and chronicles the events and changes of the European era from the perspective of those who experienced them.

Drawing on both traditional oral history and written records, Sando describes the origin and development of Pueblo civilization, the Spanish conquest and occupation, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680, and the response of the pueblos to Mexican independence and conquest by the United States. Sando offers several portraits of notable Pueblo leaders whose contributions have helped shape the history of their people. He looks at internal developments in Pueblo government and presents a detailed account of the unremitting struggle to retain sovereignty, land, and water rights in the face of powerful outside pressures.

Pueblo Profiles: Cultural Identity through Centuries of Change

In this new book, Sando weaves a tapestry of individual lives against a backdrop of history, telling the stories of more than thirty political leaders, educators, and artists who took part in the events and movements that have shaped Pueblo Indian life from the time of the Pueblo Revolt to the present day. The author, who was born and raised at Jemez Pueblo, is a recognised authority and respected writer on Pueblo history and has been a voice in the affairs of the nineteen New Mexico Pueblos over several decades.

Po’Pay: Leader of the First American Revolution
 (1998) chronicles the history of the Pueblo Revolt of 1680and its leader, Po’Pay, with commentaries on the historical and cultural importance of these events. This is the first time Pueblo historians have written about these events in book form; previous volumes reflected Spanish sources or more distant academic viewpoints. Drawing on their oral history and using their own words, the Pueblo writers discuss the history and importance of Po’Pay, the illustrious Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo Indian strategist and warrior who was renowned, respected and revered by their people as a visionary leader.

Pueblo Recollections: The Life of Paa Péh

In this autobiographical work, eminent Pueblo Indian Historian Joe S. Sando reflects upon his life and his accomplishments over decades of monumental changes for the Pueblo people. The book traces his early years in Jemez Pueblo, his time in the Navy in World War II, and his career in education and study of Pueblo Indian History. In his lifetime Sando was the preeminent scholar on Pueblo history. Using colorful anecdotes throughout the book, Sando presents his story with clarity, insight, honesty and humor.

Five Ancient Pueblo Warriors (2009)

Early history books tell about the struggles of non-Pueblo tribes who fought hopelessly to maintain their way of life and continue to be where their ancestors also lived. Fortunately, the Pueblo Indians did not suffer that kind of punishment. But we also had our share of problems with the arrival of new people from across the ocean. There were men who worked to bring understanding between the natives and the newcomers. 

At one point, the Pueblo Indians had to rebel and force the invaders back in the direction they came from. Popay(Ohkay Owingeh) was credited as the person who brought the idea of a revolt after he united most of the Pueblos. 

Following the Revolt of 1680, there were other men who risked their lives to bring understanding between the Pueblos and the invaders. Four more Pueblo men came to assist Popay, each in their own way. This was when Joseph Naranjo (Tewa) and Bartolome de Ojeda (Zia Pueblo) distinguished themselves during the years immediately following the Revolt of 1680. 

Pablo Abeita (Isleta Pueblo) and Sotero Ortiz (Ohkay Owingeh) fought a different kind of problem. They did not need to probe contemporary issues of the time, but the problems came to them. They fought for water rights, loss of land, as well as the right to continue dancing for entertainment and offering prayers to their deities. – From Forward.

The Past that Challenged the Pueblos (2010)

The first edition of the Pueblo Indian version of history titled: “Five Ancient Pueblo Warriors” first made its appearance in September 2009. 

In this, the second publication of this series, we shall try to tell what makes the Pueblo Indian people peaceful and hard working. We will first talk about three kinds of government to the Pueblo people. 

The second purpose of “The Past that Challenged the Pueblos” is to identify and present challenging issues in a simple and concise manner for even young readers. And lastly, it is the purpose of this publication to acknowledge and honor recent Pueblo heroes – War Heroes, Hall of Fame Heroes, and Track Heroes. – From Introduction.


Hartranft, M. (1973) Joe Sando: Man of many talents deeply cares about Indian affairs. Pueblo News. Sando, J. S. (2008). Pueblo Recollections: The life of Paa Péh – Joe S. Sando. Santa Fe: Clear Light Publishing.

bout the Author

Jonna C. Paden, IPCC Librarian and Archivist, is a tribally enrolled member of Acoma Pueblo. As part of the Circle of Learning scholar cohort, she earned a Master of Library and Information Science from San José State University in Archives and Records Management. She completed a B.U.S. focused on English, Linguistics, and Native American Studies at the University of New Mexico. 

Since 2020, Jonna has been the Chair of Native American Libraries, a Special Interest Group (SIG) of the New Mexico Library Association (NMLA). She is the current archivist for the NMLA and an active member of the NMLA Archives & Archivists SIG, American Indian Library Association, and the Society for Southwest Archivists as part of the Diversity & Outreach Committee.

One response to “Indigenous Connections & Collections”

  1. Lynn Ruger says:

    So nice to read about Joe. He was so good to me when I first started to volunteer. Made me feel welcome, even if I knew nothing about Pueblos. I still smile when I remember him.