TAOS PUEBLO If Pueblo Peak is the heartbeat of Taos, then Taos Pueblo is its soul

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Taos Pueblo has been closed to visitors due to coronavirus precautions since March 11, 2020. For more information, check the website at taospueblo.com or call (575) 758-1028.

A world, a culture apart, no visitor should miss seeing the ancient pueblo — perhaps the  world’s oldest apartment building. Here, life goes on much the same as it has for approximately 1,000 years. You may notice a shiny pickup truck parked nearby or see modern cell phones, but the customs and the unwritten Tiwa (pronounced TEE-wah) language have changed little over the centuries.

The history

Splinter groups of prehistoric Puebloan people established a permanent settlement in Taos Valley around 1000 A.D. Those who settled in Pot Creek left the pueblo established there between 1320-1350. They are credited with building the multistoried structures that became Taos Pueblo.

They were farmers and hunters, and their geographic location made the pueblo a crossroads and trading center for other Indian tribes.

In 1540, the Spanish Conquistadors of the Coronado Expedition arrived at Taos Pueblo’s doorstep. They are said to be the first Europeans to see Taos Valley. They were looking for gold. Fifty-eight years later, Don Juan de Oñate colonized New Mexico for the Spanish empire.

In the beginning, while hesitant, the Tiwa Indians opened their doors to the strangers hoping for harmonious living. But the influential Catholic clergy’s main motive was to convert the Tiwa to the Catholic religion and enslave them to build a chapel in the name of Saint Jerome. Because of forced baptism, Natives were given Spanish surnames. Skirmishes periodically broke out.

Under the leadership of Po’pay, from San Juan Pueblo, the Spaniards — and the indigenous people  they brought with them — were defeated during the 1680 Pueblo revolt and forced to retreat south.

The Spanish “reconquest” was carried out by Don Diego de Vargas in 1696. The Spanish colonists then returned to the valley for good. Over time, the faiths that divided the two cultures became blended. This is seen in the prominence of the Blessed Virgin Mary within the church and in the religion-inspired artwork since the Tiwa closely associate her with Mother Earth.

Taos Pueblo is not just a home; it’s a way of life.

The preserved, proud culture of the Red Willow people stands tall amid the large timbers and adobe bricks that make up the approximately 1,000-year-old multistory dwelling. Taos Pueblo culture inhales and exhales the warm smell of cedar wood and bread baking in hornos (outdoor adobe ovens). Its heart beats faster during the traditional dances and feast days — in the drum beats, ancient songs and handcrafted art. It lives in the faces of the more than 1,900 Pueblo members. The land base of Taos Pueblo is 99,000 acres. It is a sovereign nation.

Native energy

The power of Native nations is as strong as ever, an energy that is clearly evident at the annual Taos Pueblo Powwow, cancelled this year due to COVID-19 precautions, as is entry to the pueblo at press time.

TAOS PUEBLO

If Pueblo Peak is the heartbeat of Taos, then Taos Pueblo is its soul

by Scott Gerdes

 

TAOS PUEBLO IS A TESTAMENT TO THE HEART BEAT OF THE LAND BEATING THROUGH HUMANS FOR MORE THAN A THOUSAND YEARS. TAOS NEWS FILE PHOTO

 
Taos Pueblo has been closed to visitors due to coronavirus precautions since March 11, 2020. For more information, check the website at taospueblo.com or call (575) 758-1028.

A world, a culture apart, no visitor should miss seeing the ancient pueblo — perhaps the  world’s oldest apartment building. Here, life goes on much the same as it has for approximately 1,000 years. You may notice a shiny pickup truck parked nearby or see modern cell phones, but the customs and the unwritten Tiwa (pronounced TEE-wah) language have changed little over the centuries.

The history

Splinter groups of prehistoric Puebloan people established a permanent settlement in Taos Valley around 1000 A.D. Those who settled in Pot Creek left the pueblo established there between 1320-1350. They are credited with building the multistoried structures that became Taos Pueblo.

They were farmers and hunters, and their geographic location made the pueblo a crossroads and trading center for other Indian tribes.

In 1540, the Spanish Conquistadors of the Coronado Expedition arrived at Taos Pueblo’s doorstep. They are said to be the first Europeans to see Taos Valley. They were looking for gold. Fifty-eight years later, Don Juan de Oñate colonized New Mexico for the Spanish empire.

A DANCER IS SILHOUETTED AGAINST THE SETTING SUN DURING THE 33RD ANNUAL TAOS PUEBLO POWWOW. MORGAN TIMMS/TAOS NEWS

In the beginning, while hesitant, the Tiwa Indians opened their doors to the strangers hoping for harmonious living. But the influential Catholic clergy’s main motive was to convert the Tiwa to the Catholic religion and enslave them to build a chapel in the name of Saint Jerome. Because of forced baptism, Natives were given Spanish surnames. Skirmishes periodically broke out.

Under the leadership of Po’pay, from San Juan Pueblo, the Spaniards — and the indigenous people  they brought with them — were defeated during the 1680 Pueblo revolt and forced to retreat south.

The Spanish “reconquest” was carried out by Don Diego de Vargas in 1696. The Spanish colonists then returned to the valley for good. Over time, the faiths that divided the two cultures became blended. This is seen in the prominence of the Blessed Virgin Mary within the church and in the religion-inspired artwork since the Tiwa closely associate her with Mother Earth.

Taos Pueblo is not just a home; it’s a way of life.

The preserved, proud culture of the Red Willow people stands tall amid the large timbers and adobe bricks that make up the approximately 1,000-year-old multistory dwelling. Taos Pueblo culture inhales and exhales the warm smell of cedar wood and bread baking in hornos (outdoor adobe ovens). Its heart beats faster during the traditional dances and feast days — in the drum beats, ancient songs and handcrafted art. It lives in the faces of the more than 1,900 Pueblo members. The land base of Taos Pueblo is 99,000 acres. It is a sovereign nation.

Native energy

The power of Native nations is as strong as ever, an energy that is clearly evident at the annual Taos Pueblo Powwow, cancelled this year due to COVID-19 precautions, as is entry to the pueblo at press time.

Celebrations of faith

Feast days are an integral part of the Pueblo culture. They were introduced by the Spanish colonization and represent the celebration of the Patron Saints of the Catholic religion. Feast Days also coincide with the traditional Pueblo spiritual beliefs, which allows the people of the Pueblo community to practice both the Catholic and Pueblo religions.

A typical Feast Day is a day of eating, visiting with family, friends and enjoying the traditional dances that are allowed to be witnessed by public spectators. Although feast days are open to the public, one must be invited into a home to visit and/or share a feast day meal. Please use common courtesy and do not walk into a home uninvited.

Other common courtesies include: After a dance is over please do not applaud for these are not performances. Native dances are part of a ceremony and it is an honor to see them. And while watching the dances, please refrain from talking to community members regarding what is the significance of the dance and don’t speak with the dancers.

Cameras and cell phones are not allowed during religious ceremonies; they could be confiscated and won’t be returned.

Please note that the Pueblo periodically closes to the public for tribal rituals. Call (575) 758-1028 before you plan to visit.

Hours: Mon.-Sat. 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; Sun. 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. (except for tribal ritual closures).

Entrance fees: Call for current fees for adults, students (11 and older, includes college ID), groups of six or more, children 10 and under, free.

taospueblo.com

Pueblo, Taos, Travel

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