Even in the hot sun, Lynnette Haozous was up on a scissor lift working paint into the plaster texture of the west wall of the parking lot at Tuesday Morning in Taos. Although joking at times and taking her work in stride as supporters, volunteers and fans strode by, Haozous had a serious task ahead of her.
The Native American muralist was doing something historic. She was helping to bring attention to the matriarchal nature of Taos, its origins and how a new community initiative is at work helping to improve the lives of families here.
The group is called the 100% Taos County Initiative. Haozous was commissioned by the group to complete a mural, which will be presented at a Community Day event Saturday (July 30) from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The site is located at 105 Camino de la Placita, one block south of Taos Plaza.
With sponsorship from the LOR Foundation and in partnership with Paseo Project, 100% was able to commission Haozous for this mural.
Asked what she specifically wanted to say with the mural, Haozous said, “I would like for it first to honor the original community [here], which was the Taos Pueblo community of which I am from. My grandfather was the late Jimmy Lujan Sr. and I've always had a connection to this place. I grew up here and I went to the Taos Day School, the junior high, and I'm continually reconnecting with my community here. This is another beautiful way to do that.”
The 100% Taos County Initiative was born at Taos Pueblo with the Tiwa Babies Home Visiting Program in collaboration with the Pueblo Outreach Project in 2017, a press release states.
April Winters, a family support specialist for Tiwa Babies, “introduced this initiative to help identify why the needs for families and children are not being met and how to fill those gaps,” the release continues. “The initiative was developed at New Mexico State University with the Anna Age Eight Institute, based on public health research throughout counties and tribal lands in New Mexico.”
In a prepared statement, Winters explains, “Building supportive partnerships with families is at the heart of what I do. These partnerships build on the strength and resiliency for families and children that are improving outcomes and changing generations. The inspiration of this work came from the families whose experiences helped shape the idea that basic needs such as adequate housing, access to health care, food and many other services are essential in building healthy, stronger, resilient communities.”
Haozous, who is of Taos Pueblo, San Carlos Chiricahua Apache and Diné heritage, said she wants people who see the mural to understand that it’s about “honoring the original community that was here. Without that community, none of this town of Taos, all of the rest of this whole community here in Taos Valley would be here. And when the Pueblo community is taken care of, everything downriver is taking care of … it really does flow downriver and represents the whole community. And I want people to see this image of a Pueblo mother matriarch and feel the sense when they see her caressing the baby, the new new generation, to feel a sense of being cared for and looked after and a sense of pride of where this place is, and the culture, the beauty of this unique Taos place.”
Another mural of hers was in the news recently. Haozous was on-hand to introduce a special mural she painted on the wall of the proposed Coral Dawn and Paul J. Bernal Center for Arts and Literature at 1020 Veterans Highway, Taos Pueblo. “I had the honor of doing that mural commissioned by the Bernal family,” she said. “And her name was, her traditional name, was Red Coral Flower. And so that is in an essence the Indian paintbrush. And so I did these blossoming Indian paintbrushes on the side of their residence at Taos Pueblo. I also incorporated her poetry, a stanza, into that mural. And so it became a beautiful memorial mural symbolizing her in that way.”
According to the 100% Taos County Initiative, decades of extensive research on Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) “make the clear connection between childhood trauma and poor physical health, substance use disorder, suicide, even life expectancy. These experiences impact individual and community wellbeing, livelihood and economic development. When enough people in a community experience ACEs, the trauma becomes collective.”
While Taos County has strong organizations and programs working independently and in teams to address physical and behavioral health needs, the Initiative asserts, many people in our community are unable to access what they need to thrive and survive. Then, in 2020, the 100% Community Initiative at Taos Pueblo invited people from Taos County to join in a countywide effort to ensure access to services for surviving and thriving for everyone in our county, the press release states. The Mural Project being developed by Haozous “was developed to spread awareness about the initiative and celebrate the roots of local culture and history that are vital to our community.”
Haozous said as soon as the 100% Taos County Initiative Mural is completed, she is heading out to Kayenta, Ariz. for another commission. “I've always wanted to be able to create in all of my homelands. And so my next project is going to be in Navajo land, Dinetah. I'm going to be painting in Kayenta, Ariz. with a new project through the University of Utah. It's called 'Walking with Dinetah.' And so I'll be doing a mural installation there. That's starting right after this, August 2.”
The 100% Taos County Initiative plans more murals to be painted around Taos County.
For more information, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or visit online 100nm.org/taos.
Thank you Lynnette Haozous for sharing your beauty and talent and reminding us all of your People's matriarchal lineage! And the importance of ACE and how it affects the whole community and individuals.
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