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A Jewish Pioneer who Became Governor of Acoma Pueblo

Solomon Bibo was born in Brakel, Germany on August 30, 1853. He made an auspicious arrival at midnight so some historians put the date of his birth as August 29th. Bibo was one of eleven children. Like many young Jewish men in Germany during this time, Bibo and his brothers left home early for new adventures and prospects. Two of his brothers, Nathan and Simon, traveled to New Mexico and established trade relations with the Navajo during the mid 1860’s. Solomon followed his brothers, arriving in Santa Fe in 1869. After working for his brothers for a few years, Bibo applied for a license to trade with the Acoma Pueblo in 1872. His business was called ‘Sky High’ and dealt primarily in wool merchandise.

Though Bibo never completely mastered the English or Spanish language, he became a fluent speaker of the Keres language spoken by the Acoma Pueblo. He was also a staunch supporter of their rights; contesting the survey of Acoma land performed by the Department of the Interior. The Acoma argued that they had more land granted to them from a previous treaty than the Department of the Interior was recognizing. His support of the Acoma rights even led him to meet with President Ulysses S. Grant on the matter. These activities must have made an impression on the Acoma governor, because in 1875, Bibo married Juana Valle. Juana was the granddaughter of the Acoma governor, Martin Valle.

Bibo was elected governor of the Acoma Pueblo in approximately 1886 (the date is contested but it is known that Bibo was definitely governor in 1889 and had served before then). Solomon Bibo was the first non-Indian governor of the Acoma Pueblo. As governor, Bibo brought a teacher to educate the Acoma Pueblo children. Some tribal members did not agree with the method of teaching being used by Bibo’s new teacher and this may have been the main cause of Bibo and his family leaving the Acoma Pueblo in 1889. There is a New Mexican ghost town called Bibo, named after the Bibo brothers.

Solomon Bibo died in 1934.