Palace of the Governors, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Wendy Connett/age fotostock
The entire north side of Santa Fe’s downtown plaza is taken up by the 1610 Palace of the Governors, the oldest continually occupied public building in the United States. Its front adobe facade is completely shaded, and in this “portal,” the Native American Vendors Program has been operating for over six decades. A daily lottery ensures a rotating selection of artisans from the various pueblos throughout New Mexico. Yes, there might be some “finer” pieces available in the chic boutiques elsewhere in Santa Fe, but here, in the shade of a four-century-old adobe building, you can meet the artists and even haggle a bit. Be respectful, though—these are not cheap trinkets made in a sweatshop abroad: The crafts and the jewelry are usually made by the person with whom you’ll be conversing. (An interesting side note: The Palace was taken over in 1680 and occupied by Native Americans during the Pueblo Revolt until 1692, when the Spaniards returned. This is the only government seat in the U.S. to have ever been taken over by Native Americans. It then served as the residence of the governor during the Spanish, Mexican, and U.S. territorial regimes, until 1907. In 1912, New Mexico became a U.S. state. Today, the Palace serves as a museum.)
Portal Native American Artisans Program
The Portal Native American Artisans Program brings artisans to the historic Palace of the Governors daily. One of the best known “Indian Markets” in Santa Fe (along with the seasonal Indian Markets held on the plaza on specific days in August and November), the artisans display their wares underneath the portal of the landmarked building. The program is year round and all artisans must be members of New Mexico tribes and pueblos. They must also follow very specific rules to ensure that all the pieces they sell are genuine. You’ll find works in turquoise, coral, and silver, as well as a range of textiles. Word to the wise: if you like a piece, buy it when you see it—artists and artisans are rotated and you can’t count on finding the same item, or artisan, if you return a day later.