The Pueblo of Isleta is centrally located
in the Rio Grande Valley, just 13 miles (21 kilometers) south of
Albuquerque and only five minutes away on I-25 to Exit 215.
Originally established around the 1300's,
the name Isleta comes from the Spanish language which means "Little
Island." Isleta's current population is over 4000 plus residents and
growing. Many traditions, songs and dances are still practiced, and
handed down from generation to generation. Historic St. Augustine
Church, built in 1612, and located around the main plaza, presents
interesting history and traditional architecture.
Sandia Pueblo, 14 miles north of Albuquerque on the
east side of the Rio Grande, and Isleta Pueblo, 14 miles south of
Albuquerque on the west side of the river, are both Tiwa-speaking
pueblos. Their native names are Nafiat (dusty) and Tuei (town). Sandia
Pueblo lands comprise 22,884 acres, (93 km2) and the village itself
seems to have been occupied continuously since about 1300. Isleta's
lands comprise 187,826 acres (760 km2) and the present village site
cannot be dated earlier than 1500. The core population of both
villages is probably made up of descendants of Puebloan peoples living
in the Rio Grande Valley long before European contact.
pueblos probably also received population increments from the now
extinct Piro Pueblos, which existed before the conquest along the
river south of Isleta and from the abandoned Saline Pueblos (Abo, Gran
Quivera, and Quarai) of the Estancia Basin. In about 1880, Isleta
welcomed and gave land to a group from Laguna Pueblo, a Kersean-speaking
pueblo. The immigrants have intermarried with the native Isletans.
populations of both Sandia and Isleta have grown considerably since
the turn of the century. In 1900, Sandia's population was just 74
persons. In 1968, this figure was 248. During the same period,
Isleta's population grew from 989 to 2,449. At both villages, there
has been a recent trend toward building separate, "American-style"
houses, closer to the highway than the older parts of town.