Pojoaque Pueblo is one of the six Tewa-speaking Rio Grande Pueblos and is located in a rural, high desert area of Santa Fe County, N.M., with a population of about 1,900 and 373 enrolled tribal members. Approximately 40% of its tribal population is under 18. The Pueblo has a long list of young families who qualify for low- to moderate- level income housing.
The Pojoaque Pueblo Club created a teen center, complete with snack bar, framed college sports jerseys, television and cafe-style booths to give teens a space all their own.
The Pojoaque Pueblo Club has a college "wall of fame" to encourage members to think about life after high school.
Until the 1980's, the Pueblo’s unemployment rate was estimated at 80%. Due to the lack of economic opportunity, many tribal members lived and worked in neighboring Pueblos or communities and throughout the United States. At that time, the Pueblo government undertook a major Community Development Plan. They opened businesses including gas stations, hotels, a golf course, sandwich store and two other restaurants, a supermarket, a hardware store, a laundromat, a mobile home park and an apartment complex. The tribe also leases space to outside businesses. This has created 100% employment of tribal members.
During the creation of the plan the tribe also focused on the health and success of its members across all ages. They built a beautiful, full-service Wellness Center in 2003 and chartered a new Boys & Girls Club next door in 2008, creating a thriving partnership between the two. Not only can Club members use the Wellness Center facilities, including the pool, weight room, classes and gym, but Club members often serve as volunteers and lifeguards at the Center.
Linda Wiltse is BGCA's vice president of Program & Youth Development Services.
Earlier this year, the tribe reached another longed-for goal and opened a beautiful new Boys & Girls Club Teen Center across the street from the existing Club. Take a look at these fantastic pictures for a few Teen Center “best practices”!