The pandemic was particularly challenging for Taos Pueblo, but in its more than 1,000-year old history, it has faced far more dangerous perils, and has survived and thrived despite them. According to Taos Pueblo Director of Tourism Ilona Spruce, the year 2021 will be no different.
“Taos Pueblo will reopen, and when it does we will once again welcome visitors and make sure they enjoy their visit,” Spruce emphasized.
Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark.
“That alone is a reason we get a lot of visitors,” Spruce added, “but our proximity to a town that in itself is a huge tourist draw means we attract many more visitors than other pueblos.”
So it’s not surprising that much of the pueblo’s economic engine is fueled with tourist dollars, from entrance fees to the sale of arts, traditional crafts and food from concessions – all are important employment sources at the Pueblo, as well.
The goal of the Taos Pueblo Governor’s Office, under which the Tourism Office operates, was to coordinate with others in the town of Taos to sustain the pueblo’s community during the pandemic.
“Some shopkeepers received CARES funding, and we worked with other organizations to keep our artists’ works in the public eye,” Spruce said, noting that online shows in coordination with the Millicent Rogers Museum in October 2020, and March 2021 did very well.
And during July 9-13, silversmith Lyle Wright is hosting “Fine Arts of Taos Pueblo” at the Stables Gallery, featuring his silversmith work and those of other artists from the pueblo.
“We have been approached to have some of our baked goods available throughout town as well,” Spruce said.
Going forward there’s much for Taos Pueblo to be optimistic about.
“Pre-COVID, our economic outlook was sound,” Spruce continued. From the acquisition of the Lineberry Estate (slated to become the site of a Marriott hotel and a historical, cultural and art showcase) to receiving Federal economic development funds with which the new travel center at Hail Creek Road was built, things were moving forward at a rapid pace. “Now it’s time to pick up where we left off.”
“We’ve learned new means for the village to financially operate,” she noted. “We’d like to continue the model of working with town museums and galleries to showcase our artists. We’re developing the Taos Pueblo Collective: a website directory, reference and contact site for fine artists, artisans and shopkeepers in the village. And there’s been time to re-think our limitations; how to better preserve through education the privilege of visiting us; and how to protect our home and what’s important to the community.”
Lastly, Spruce wished to recognize her office staff for their years of service. “Most of all, our tourism staff deserves special recognition for their hard work and dedication during good times and trying times,” Spruce remarked.
Coordinator Gabriel Romero; cashiers Leyla Romero and Luis Trujillo; Office assistant Alaura Lujan; and Parking Monitors Miguel Pemberton, Joseph Mirabal, Lily Pickup and Gabriel Romero, Jr., all deserve a special shout, she believes.
“And our tour guides, who are our real ambassadors of the community, deserve to be recognized, as well,” Spruce concluded.
The tourism office would note that, though it is anticipated Taos Pueblo will reopen in the fall, it is unlikely that San Geronimo Feast Day in September will be open to the public.
Tribal Gov. Clyde Romero and War Chief Fred Romero were appointed this year by the Tribal Council. The tribal governor and his staff are concerned with civil and business issues within the village and relations with the non-Indian world. The war chief and staff deal with the protection of the mountains and Indian lands outside the Pueblo walls, according to the pueblo’s website.
For further information visit taospueblo.com, or call 575-758-1028.