May 7, 2009
Pueblo means an American Indian settlement in southwestern U.S. and the members of the settlement. There are 22 "Pueblos, Tribes and Nations" in New Mexico. Each Pueblo has a distinct community and language. The origin of Taos Pueblo dates back to approximately 1000 AD and can be toured for a small fee plus a $5 charge for each personal camera you will use.
Very few of the 2800 Native American Pueblo residents live in the old section pictured in this post. Those that live in the old adobe buildings are chiefly artists and vendors who sell silver and turquoise jewelry, wood and hide drums, moccasins, dream catchers, beadwork, painted pottery, baked goods, and antiques.
An oven and drying racks in the plaza, sandwiched between the river and dwellings:
One of many friendly Pueblo artists and me wearing one of his creations: a silver and turquoise necklace.
Most of the residents live in modern homes on Pueblo land, within a three mile radius of the old adobe buildings. All that we met seemed glad to tell us of their customs and creations. Even the dogs were sociable - dogs galore, but none of the barking variety (not sure if they were that well trained or just drained from the heat and constant wind).
Saints in the church below are costumed according to season. About 90% of the Pueblo Indians are Catholic, yet they mesh Christianity with their own religion, which has a strong identification and correlation between Mary and Mother Earth. The residents are very secretive about their religion for fear of "exploitation", a wariness harboured since the Spanish Inquisition.
Every structure is made of adobe: a dirt, straw and water mix shaped into blocks or poured into some other form. The walls can be several feet thick. Roofs are typically supported by large timbers and topped by smaller branches of pine and/or aspen and packed with dirt.
An oven in front of residents's galleries/shops/workrooms:
A Tribal Council appoints a Tribal Governor and War Chief each year, but this system is strained and criticized by the younger generation, particularly the young women who are the most educated of the population. The young complain that "the elder men who make up the Tribal Council have a system for keeping themselves in power," "they keep the women out," "They buy laptops and don't even know how to use them - not even email," "we cannot progress," etc. It's a lamentable governing situation that will not hold up for long.
Tiwa is the native language spoken in the Taos Pueblo. English and Spanish also have their place.
The church below was built in 1619 then bombed in the 1680 Spanish Revolt and left to Nature. The cemetery is considered a resting place. Therefore, residents only enter the sacred ground twice a year for specific ceremonies and the greenery is left to grow freely. The gravesites are "reused" and when the crosses weather to decay they are stacked against the old church wall.
The best bet is a one hour guided tour. The second best bet is the blue corn fry bread with honey and cinnamon (even with a constant sprinkle of dust devil)!