The Galisteo Basin reflects the complex history of the Northern Rio Grande Valley as a whole, from the earliest Americans through the ranching, film locations, and suburbs of today.

Dozens of technical archaeological reports provide glimpses of pieces of the puzzle, but two award-winning and rich summaries of Galisteo Basin history are available to the public: Christine Singleton Mednick’s San Cristóbal: Voices and Visions of the Galisteo Basin (1996), and Lucy R. Lippard’s Down Country: The Tano of the Galisteo Basin, 1250-1782 (2010). Both are beautifully illustrated, and both are distributed through the Museum of New Mexico Press. Jason S. Shapiro, another Museum of New Mexico Press author, has written Before Santa Fe: Archaeology of the City Different (2008). His work summarizes the prehistory of Santa Fe, substantially overlapping with the geography and context of the pre-Spanish history of the Galisteo Basin. A regional history of Spanish Colonial times, Kiva, Cross, and Crown, is authored by John L. Kessell. Originally published in 1979, it is available in a reprinted edition (1995) published by Western National Parks Association.

The history of the Galisteo Basin is a blend of knowledge from archaeology, historical documents, and oral tradition. There is no clear dividing line between “history” and “prehistory,” but historic records become more and more available starting with the expeditions of the Spanish entrada. Archaeology becomes less important toward the modern era, but even events of the twentieth century are often inadequately documented in written records or in memory, and archaeological can contribute meaningful information. Oral tradition is a rich well of information that is held within communities, Native American and Hispanic, and as these communities choose to share with us, small vignettes are slowly being added to our understanding of the landscape and its inhabitants.