Herman Agoyo, a former governor and lifetime tribal council member for the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo and a longtime member of Crow Canyon's Native American Advisory Group, died on April 11 in Laguna Pueblo following a lengthy illness. He was 82.
Agoyo was a member of the Crow Canyon Native American Advisory Group from 1997 until retiring in 2010. He joined the Ohkay Owingeh tribal council in 1992, and served as governor, lieutenant governor and in several other positions for the pueblo. In addition, Agoyo served as the pueblo's Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act representative, and worked to ensure the preservation of native language and customs among the pueblo's young people. He was also the founder of American Indian Week at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center and co-founder of the Eight Northern Indian Pueblos Arts and Crafts Show.
Herman Agoyo was born in 1934, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Manhattan College in 1958 and a master’s degree from The University of New Mexico in 1969.
In 2006, he was named one of 10 New Mexicans "Who Made a Difference" by The Santa Fe New Mexican, and he has been the recipient of several awards that have recognized his contributions as a community leader: the Spirit of the Heard Museum Award (2005), the Mary G. Ross Award from the Council of Energy Resources Tribes (2006), and the Povika Award from the Southwestern Association for Indian Arts (2008).
Agoyo was a tireless champion in educating young people about Po'Pay, the Ohkay Owingeh spiritual leader who led the 1680 Pueblo Revolt and the effort to unite the New Mexico pueblos against the Spanish colonial government. He was a co-editor of the book, Po'pay: Leader of the First American Revolution, and was instrumental in the installation of the statue of Po'pay in the National Statuary Hall in Washington, D.C.
He also helped lead the effort to change the name of the pueblo from San Juan Pueblo to Ohkay Owingeh, which in the Tewa language means "place of the strong people."
“That’s who we are, so we should be proud of that," Agoyo told The New Mexican in 2005. "San Juan was a name given to us to which we had no choice. I hope that people respect our desires here and that in time they won’t be confused with what to call San Juan Pueblo.”
He is survived by his wife, Rachele, and several children and grandchildren.