The website (below) explains the etiquette rules for visitors to Acoma, and it is important that you read and abide by these. Think of it as a visit to another country, whose laws must be upheld and whose traditions respected.
The rules are:
~You MUST register for a guided tour in order to visit the Pueblo.
~Please stay with your tour guide at ALL times and do not wander off the designated tour route.
~Always stay on the path when descending on foot from Sky City.
~Absolutely no video cameras, digital video cameras or cellular phone cameras are permitted.
~During feast days, please stay clear of the dancers, as they symbolize a special honor for the occasion.
~Restrain your children at all times. Absolutely no pets are allowed on tour.
~When traveling on Pueblo land, stay on the highway as off road sight-seeing, camping and rock climbing are strictly prohibited.
~A camera permit must be purchased before taking any pictures on the Acoma Reservation and will be covered by Acoma Business Enterprises for your visit.
~Absolutely NO photography allowed inside the Church and within the cemetery courtyard.
~Permission must be obtained prior to photographing any tribal member or their artwork
~Use of tripods, video cameras, digital video cameras, cellular phone cameras and binoculars are STRICTLY PROHIBITED. Your camera and or film may be confiscated.
~Commercial use of a photograph depicting Acoma imagery for personal gain (profit) is prohibited.
When you are at Acoma, you are inside a recognized sovereign nation and subject to its laws. Pueblos or reservations that allow outside visitors have their own specific sets of rules regarding what you are - or are not - allowed to do so it's good to familiarize yourself with those of each pueblo before you go:
• You MUST register for a tour to visit the pueblo
• When traveling on Pueblo land, stay on the highway as off-road sightseeing, camping and rock climbing are strictly prohibited
• Absolutely no video cameras, digital video cameras, cellular phone cameras, tripods or binoculars are permitted. Still cameras only*
• A camera permit MUST be purchased before taking any pictures on the Acoma Reservation. Permits can be purchased at the Sky City Cultural Center
• Commercial use of a photograph depicting Acoma imagery for personal gain (profit) is prohibited
• No photography of any kind allowed at ceremonial dances
• No talking during ceremonial dances, and please do not applaud after a dance is completed. (in other words, consider these religious services)
• Please don't climb on ladders or structures, or enter any of the buildings without express permission
• No pets on tours - and please don't leave them in a hot car!!!
• No smoking on tours
• Absolutely NO photography allowed inside the church and within the cemetery courtyard
• Permission must be obtained prior to photographing any tribal member or their artwork
• Please dress modestly with respect for Acoma's resident spiritual leaders
* A note on video cameras: This is confusing as so many digital cameras have video capabilities! I didn't have any trouble getting a permit for my Canon Elph - which does have a recording feature - so I think they're looking for video-only cameras and larger, more professional "still" models with high-end video. If you are in doubt about your camera, buy an inexpensive drugstore disposable to take along.
If they do allow you a permit for any camera with a recording feature, don't even think about sneaking footage - get caught panning around or breaking ANY of the photography rules and they WILL confiscate your camera, doggone it.
*Please stay on the pavement when descending from Sky City.
*Please stay within the plaza and street areas, stay from restricted areas, and where off-limit signs are posted. (Restricted areas: water cisterns, cliff edges, behind the church).
*Absolutely no video recorders/cameras are allowed at any time, and no still picture taking allowed on special feast days only.
*Please keep off homes, kivas, ladders, especially those that are ancient and in ruins.
*Please keep clear of dancers, as Acoma dances symbolize a special honor for a special day.
*Please restrain your children, and advise them of the requirements when visiting the Pueblo.
*When you leave, please stay on the highway, as camping, hiking or climbing rock formations are prohibited.
*Please place all trash in proper receptacles.
*Follow the directions provided by your tour guide for additional rules while in Acoma
From the referenced website.
Wandering Acoma today, the temperature was about 100F. Though a dry heat, precautions need to be taken to stay healthy and happy during your tour.
Bring water up with you on your tour (and not the little teeny bottles either). Wear a hat, or carry a parasol for portable shade, as natural shade simply doesn't exist up here. Buy more water while you wander if you need it.
At the beginning of the tour, our guide let us know to inform her if we were feeling weak in any way ..... so far that day she had 3 tourists pass out from the heat and dehydration - the last one being a large man. If you practice prevention, the odds of this happening to you are slim to none. But if you feel weak, let your guide know so he/she can help you to a safe position - or throw something under you as you fall down :)
Please take the time to 'relieve yourself' while at the visitor center. There are no public facilities on the mesa.
Each family maintains its own outhouse, some more modern than others, and these outhouses are not for general use. So unless you want to urinate in front of your tour group, heed my warning ....... potty at the visitor center BEFORE your tour :)