Anyone interested in New Mexico’s Pueblo Indians should become familiar with books written on the subject by Sandoval County’s own Joe Simon Sando.

Sando (1923-2011) was New Mexico’s premier historian on the Pueblo people — their lives, history and culture.

He was born at Jémez Pueblo, considered it his home throughout his life and regularly attended ceremonial events even though he lived in Albuquerque.

He graduated from Santa Fe Indian School in 1941 and attended college briefly before he entered the U.S. Navy and served aboard the aircraft carrier USS Corregidor in the Pacific Theater of Operations throughout World War II.

He suffered a unilateral hearing loss as a result of his military service.

He entered Eastern New Mexico University after his discharge from the military in 1946 and graduated in 1949.

Because of his hearing loss, he attended graduate school at Vanderbilt University, studying audiology and speech pathology.

In 1970, Sando began teaching Pueblo Indian history at the University of New Mexico. He also taught South, Central and North American Native history at the Institute of American Indian Arts in Santa Fe.

While teaching, he became aware that books on Native American history did not exist, and he set about correcting that. His first book was “The Pueblo Indians” (1976), followed by “Pueblo Indian Biographies” (1978), then “Nee Hemish” or “We Jemez” (1982), “Pueblo Nations: Eight Centuries of Pueblo Indian History” (1992) and “Pueblo Profiles” (1995).

He and Herman Agoyo edited “Po’Pay: Leader of the First American Revolution” (2005). His last book was “Pueblo Recollections: The Life of Paa Peh.”

He also wrote several tracts on various aspects of Pueblo history.

“I live and operate in two worlds,” Sando wrote. “My Indian world continues to bring me much pleasure as I am fluent in my native language and participate in the ceremonials and feast days of the Pueblo Indian people. I also feel at home reading, writing and listening to good music.”

He was an active member of the Central New Mexico Corral of Westerners International. Sando was a 2008 New Mexico Book Awards recipient.

He was interred at the Santa Fe National Cemetery.

Joe Sando was a scholar and a true gentleman.

(Don Bullis is a Rio Rancho resident, New Mexico centennial historian and award-winning author. He was named the Best Local Author in the 2018 and ‘19 Rio Rancho Readers’ Choice contests. “Ellos Pasaron por Aqui” is translated as “They Passed by Here.” His newest book, “No Manure on Main Street,” is scheduled for publication in early September. It will be available from RioGrandeBooks.com.)

Don Bullis