Friday, November 29, 2013

A Visit to Taos Pueblo

The "new" San Geronimo Church, built in 1850
A trip to Taos is not complete without visiting Taos Pueblo. And, if you live here, attending many of the feasts, festivals and events held throughout the year is a "must-do" addition to your calendar.  Last July I wrote about the annual Pow-Wow and I cannot wait to share my experience after this year's Christmas Eve Vespers & Bonfire Procession, but today I want to provide some history and background on the Pueblo itself.

We have been to the Pueblo many times but one Saturday in late October we decided to take one of the tours offered every 20 minutes during open hours. Our guide, Pat Romero, who also hosts a Monday night show on local favorite KTAO radio (Contemporary, traditional and pow-wow Native American music by Native American artists), shared his experiences growing up on the Pueblo. 

Taos Pueblo is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States...over 1000 years. The native language, Tiwa, is still spoken today however it is "unwritten, unrecorded and will remain so"*. This is a result of the history of oppressions the people have endured.  

About 150 people currently live full time at the Pueblo, also known as the village, in buildings made of adobe (bricks constructed of mud and straw.) There is no electricity or running water and wood stoves are used for cooking and heat. Outdoor ovens, called hornos, are used for cooking and baking especially the delicious bread sold at the Pueblo and local farmers' markets.
Horno oven
It is difficult to listen to the history of the Pueblo without feeling a sense of sadness at how the people were treated. At first, visitors were welcomed and treated with kindness from the tribal members. They were repaid by being forced to convert from their native religion to Catholicism and slavery in 1619 under the guise of being "civilized". They revolted in 1680, won, and lived peacefully until the Spanish regained control in the 1700s. This lasted until 1847 where, by now, the United States was in charge. A man named Charles Bent governed the territory, now known as Arizona and New Mexico, in the midst of the US war with Mexico. According to our tour guide, Northern New Mexico was a bit cut off from Mexico and the United States. In an effort to gain independence from both governments people from the town of Taos and from the Pueblo teamed up and killed Governor Bent. The US government retaliated by rounding up and killing the leaders of the Pueblo.  Many of the tribal members fled to what they thought to be safety by inhabiting the original Catholic Church built in 1619. The US soldiers burned down the Church killing a majority of the people.
Remains of the original San Geronimo Church and the cemetery
another view of the old cemetery
Despite the gruesome history, the people of the Pueblo are kind, generous and welcoming. Many of the homes are open to the public with their residents selling crafts, art, jewelry, pottery, leather goods and/or the aforementioned horno bread. A day at the Pueblo includes shopping, walking the beautiful grounds, viewing the Red Willow Creek which is the "river" which flows through the center of the village and touring (from a distance) the structures, both the Hlaauma/North House and the Hilakkwima/South House, as well as the individual homes.  The North and South Houses are the original condominiums, homes with common walls, built over 1000 years ago.  Really beautiful.

photo, courtesy Taos Pueblo Website, Brett Schneider


Monday-Saturday: 8:00am – 4:00pm
Sunday: 8:30am – 4:00pm
Guided Tours available daily starting at 9:00 am.

TAOS, NM 87571

The Pueblo is generally open to visitors daily from 8am to 4:30pm, except when tribal rituals require closing the Pueblo.
Late winter to early Spring the Pueblo closes for about ten weeks.
Please call ahead if you’ll be visiting during this time. 575-758-1028

A visit to the Pueblo anytime throughout the year is wonderful but, for a truly amazing experience, try to attend one of the annual Feasts Days, Dances or other events.  The 2013 calendar follows but check the website for dates and times for upcoming years.


Jan. 1, Turtle Dance
Jan. 6, Deer or Buffalo Dance
May 3, Santa Cruz Feast Day
June 13, San Antonio Feast Day
June 24, San Juan Feast Day
July 12,13,14, — 28th Annual Taos Pueblo Pow-Wow
July 25, Santiago Feast Day
July 26, Santa Ana Feast Day
Sept. 29, San Geronimo Eve Vespers
Sept. 30, San Geronimo Day, Traditional Pole Climbing
Dec. 24, Procession of the Virgin Mary
Dec. 25, Deer or Matachines Dance
* Taos Pueblo Visitors Guide

My best,
November 29, 2013

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Sunday, November 17, 2013

We're #6! We're #6!

I love posting articles written about Taos, wonderful Taos. Money Journal just came out with their "10 most liked US Cities" list and we ranked sixth.  Forgetting the fact that we are actually a town....not a city...this is pretty cool.  Major cities like Seattle, Portland Oregon, Boston and New York City made the list and then there is Taos.  How cool is that?

The magazine wrote:

"6- Taos, New Mexico – This historic Spanish outpost is still one of America’s most popular towns. Long a hub for artists and counterculture types, this small city now hosts a world class music festival and attracts visitors from all over the world. Taos might be America’s most popular small city."

You can read the rest of the article by clicking here.

We were also featured in a Forbes article titled "America's Prettiest Towns".  This time we were third out of twenty.  Forbes said:

"Taos, a stunningly beautiful mountain community located just north of Santa Fe, has earned a reputation for one of the country’s most captivating small towns. Although it is now known as a winter playground for its world-class skiing, and year-round getaway for the rich and famous, Taos retains its small-town feel while increasingly becoming an artistic hub. Santa Fe’s designation as a UNESCO Creative City has no doubt led to some spillover, but Taos’ beauty would attract artists despite outside influences. Majestic mountains, the kind of blue sky you only get at higher elevations (almost 7,000 feet – a good 1,800 or so feet higher than Denver and its “mile-high” moniker), and the desert climate all add to the traditional, Santa-Fe architectural style of the town’s center. The neighboring Taos Pueblo is a popular tourist destination and a designated National Historic Landmark."

You can read the rest of the article by clicking here.
I, of course, agree with every point except that we attract all kinds of people from all walks of life...not just the aforementioned "rich and famous".  If you live here you know how amazing Taos is.  If you have not visited yet, what are you waiting for?

My best,
November 16, 2013

Follow me on facebook

Please visit my other blogs
napa farmhouse 1885
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We now have a twitter account @dianeintaos. Please follow and I will follow back!  I would love to get to know you on Facebook, Twitter and through your comments on this blog.