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Joe Sando, a 1949 graduate of Eastern New Mexico College (now University), who became the first Jemez Pueblo member to chronicle life in the tribe as a historian and writer, died Sept. 13, according to an Associated Press article by Russell Contreras. He was 88.
He died of natural causes at an assisted living center in Albuquerque, said his publisher and friend Marcia Keegan.
According to the article, Sando had been an active member and founder of a number of boards, councils and commissions on Native American issues. He was widely known for his work on Pueblo life, with historians and scholars crediting him for being the first scholar from any of the New Mexico pueblos to tackle that life from an insider's point of view.
"He was amazing," said Tazbah McCullah, a spokeswoman for the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center, one of the places where Sando had been active. "Every week, he would come in. He was always working on a project," she said in the article.
Born in 1923 at the pueblo about 50 miles north of Albuquerque, Sando, who returned to speak to ENMU students in the 80s, grew up speaking only Towa, his tribal language. He joined the U.S. Navy during World War II and began his studies into Native American history upon his return, with the help of the GI Bill.
After studying at Eastern New Mexico University and Vanderbilt University in Tennessee, he taught Pueblo Indian history at a number of institutions, including The University of New Mexico and the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe, according to the article.
He later served as the director of the Institute of Pueblo Study and Research at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque and was a sought-after lecturer on American Indian issues around the country.
Among his books were Pueblo Nations: Eight Centuries of Pueblo Indian History and Nee Hemish: A History of Jemez Pueblo.
Sando later said that he wrote Pueblo Nations in response to what he saw as a negative perception of Native Americans, according to the article.
"A need existed for Indian stories to be written by Indians for Indian schoolchildren," he told a University of New Mexico journalism student in a 2009 interview. "What was out there was uncomplimentary to young Indians."
The New York Times called it "the first insider's story of the 800-year history of the 19 pueblos in New Mexico."
According to the AP article, While writing about different aspects of Pueblo life, Sando was resistant to publicly discuss Pueblo religion, which he believed needed to remain private.
His 2008 memoir, Pueblo Recollections: The Life of Paa Peh, remains one of just a handful of memoirs by a Native American writer, according to the article.
Sando was survived by his wife of 61 years, Louisa Barry Sando; a daughter; a son; three granddaughters, and two great-grandsons.
The information below was provided by Everett Frost, former ENMU president:
Joe S. Sando , 1923-2011
Joe S. Sando was born into the Sun Clan at Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico. Sando received his education at Eastern New Mexico University and Vanderbilt. His career includes teaching Pueblo History at the University of New Mexico and Ethnohistory at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Sante Fe. Currently, Sando is Director of Archives, Pueblo Indian Study and Research Center, at the Pueblo Cultural Center in Albuquerque. He also serves as consultant to the National Museum of Indian History in Washington, D.C.
Books by Joe S. Sando:
Sando, Joe S.. Nee Hemish, a history of Jemez Pueblo
Albuquerque : University of New Mexico Press, 1982.
Sando, Joe S.. Popé, architect of the first American revolution, August 10, 1680
Santa Fe, N.M : Clear Light, 1998.
Sando, Joe S.. The Pueblo Indians
San Francisco : Indian Historian Press, 1976.
Sando, Joe S.. Pueblo nations : eight centuries of Pueblo Indian history
Santa Fe, N.M : Clear Light,, 1992.
ISBN: 0940666073 (pbk.)
Sando, Joe S.. Pueblo profiles : cultural identity through centuries of change
Sante Fe, N.M. : Clear Light Publishers, 1998.