One of the oldest and most beloved celebrations in Northern New Mexico, Fiestas de Taos, returned in force this year with the theme ¡Taos: La Tierra de Dios!/!Taos: God’s Country!
Like many of the weathered adobes lining the Taos Plaza, the Historic Taos County Courthouse has tales to tell. Some are dramatically punctuated with calamitous fires and phoenix-like restores, others boast of a rich history of another time. Soon, another chapter will unfold in the life of one of the stalwart anchors on the plaza, sometimes referred to as “The Old Courthouse.”
The Peñasco Valley Historical Preservation Society took its first major step towards the realization of a regional history museum when it finalized the purchase of the old Saint Anthony Parochial School building last December.
‘During the early 1800s, there [was] a shift in settlement patterns in the Taos area … Hispaño settlers had been living in these dispersed settlements across the land, and they started to coalesce into these more secure villages to [keep themselves safe] against Comanche raiding,” said Lindsay Montgomery, an assistant professor in anthropology at the University of Arizona.
The feast day of Our Lady of Sorrows, Sept. 15, is celebrated annually by the Catholic Church one day after the feast of the Holy Cross (Sept. 14) every year, thus linking the close connection between the Passion of Jesus and Mother Mary’s Sorrows associated with Christ’s suffering.
You’re walking alone at night down a dark dirt road somewhere in Taos. A fast-moving thing bright in the sky catches your eye. You continue a little further and suddenly the thing appears right overhead.
A thousand years ago, the ancestors of today's Taos Pueblo people took advantage of Taos' fertile valley. Recognizing its true value, they settled here to hunt, gather and farm. When Spanish colonists arrived in the 17th century they observed the prosperity of the Indigenous people and quickly realized the region's potential for trade and agriculture and also settled here. By the beginning of the 18th century, news of Taos' abundant stores reached nomadic Apache, Comanche, Navajo and Ute Indians, who had only recently adopted horses for transportation. These warrior horsemen swept down the various trails to raid Taos Pueblo and their Spanish neighbors.
The history of Taos Pueblo is grounded in cultivation of the soil.
“We are connecting back to our roots through our work at Red Willow Center,” said Tiana Suazo, Red Willow Center executive director. “We are an agricultural people. In the past, we were a food hub. During trade events, we bartered food for other goods we needed.”
Remarkable Red River couple Ron and Dina Burnham have dedicated over half a century of their lives to fighting fires and saving lives in Northern New Mexico.
Ernestina Córdova, the president of Taos County Historical Society, said the Burnhams are “true pioneers of the Fire Service and EMS in Taos County. Ron and Dina retired from the Fire Service/EMS with over 60 years of combined service to Northern New Mexico.”
In the small, rural community of El Prado during the era of the Great Depression, parents recognized the need for an elementary school. They donated land, building materials, time and labor toward the project.
Every year since 1927, for two days over the third weekend of July, Fiestas de Taos transforms Historic Taos Plaza from a tourist-heavy destination to a place of memory, return to roots and re-energizing for Taoseños. It’s a time for locals to take a respite from work and celebrate the holy days.
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