Thursday, June 7, 2012

May 23, 2012. The Hawthornes Visit The Taos Pueblo.

Welcome to Taos Pueblo.
These multi-storied adobe buildings at the base of the
Sangre de Cristo Mountains,
reflect a culture hundreds of years old.
This is one of the oldest 
continuously inhabited communities in North America.
Despite its age, 
the village is not a re-enactment,
but rather a living community of some 150 people
who are dedicated to preserving the ancient ways of life.

According to our Taos Pueblo Welcome Brochure,
"The Native legends and detailed oral history trace our existence back to the beginning of evolution of man and all of creation.  Our Native Language, Tiwa, is unwritten, unrecorded,
and will remain so. The details of our traditional values are guarded as sacred and are not divulged.  Understand that the past oppressions upon our culture have required us to keep the details unspoken.  We welcome you in hopes that you will enjoy the quiet in this high mountain desert oasis that celebrates life everyday as we have for thousands of years."

Taos Pueblo was probably built between
1000 and 1450 AD.
It is a member of Eight Northern Pueblos
and known for being
the most secretive and conservative pueblo.

They didn't seem all too secretive the day I was there.
In fact they were more than willing
to help me part with my money.
But I didn't buy anything here.

The Red Willow People of Taos Pueblo
welcome visitors as they have
for 1000 years.
To visit the living village is to walk into a sacred place
where life continues from the earliest of human existence.
Little has changed here in the high desert village.

This area has always been a crossroads for trade.
The tradition continues with the activity
of the many shops and vendors
located through the village.
There's a wealth of artwork offered.
There are artists here who create
both traditional and contemporary art forms -
 painting, photography, sculpture, performance art,
drums, pottery, beadwork, and leathergoods.
Traditional foods are also offered.

In 1960, Taos Pueblo was desginated
In 1992, the village was listed 

Criteria for Living World Heritage: 
An outstanding example of a traditional human settlement
which is representative of a culture and which has become
vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.
  • The property and culture demonstrates one which is truly of "outstanding universal value."
  • The Natives have aboriginal status to this land and this continent. Post-contact aboriginal.
  • Cultural properties reflect; Prehistory and living communities.

"We have lived upon this land from days beyond history's records, far past any living memory, deep into the time of legend.  The story of my people and the story of this place are one single story.  No man can think of us without thinking of this place.  We are always joined together."
Tribal Manifesto.

 Vendors set up their wares.


 An art gallery.

 The cemetery.

The original San Geronimo Church once stood here,
where the cemetery is today.

Built around 1619 by the Spanish priests with Indian labor, the people of Taos Pueblo were forced into Catholicism and slavery in order to become 'civilized.' This is what eventually led to the Pueblo revolt of 1680.  Taos Pueblo was prominent as the headquarters for the revolt, which was led by the Pope.  In success of the revolt, the Pueblo people of New Mexico lived freely until the reconquest by the Spanish in the 1700s.  It was in 1706 that the church was reconstructed.

A hundred years later, conflicting new reign was upon the cultures of new Mexico with the increase of settlers, as well as the US Government for the southwest.  Charles Ben then governed the territory known today as New Mexico and Arizona.  Governor Bent represented the US Government for this area that was previously governed by the Spanish/Mexican Governments.  He made his home in Taos.  During this time, the US War with Mexico was taking place.  In 1847, in an effort to overthrow the US Government, the local town people and a few natives slew Bent.  In retaliation to the death of Bent, the US Army was sent to seek out those responsible for his death.  As a result, several Taos Pueblo leaders were taken to the town plaza and hung (sic).  US troops also destroyed the San Geronimo church leaving only the bell tower standing.  Many lives were lost in the church.  That is when it became the cemetery.  Miraculously, the Santos (alter figures) were gathered and safe housed in the inner core of the North House by native women.

 How old is Taos Pueblo?
Our people have a detailed oral history which is not divulged due to religious privacy.  Archeologists say that ancestors of the Taos Indians lived in this valley long before Columbus discovered America and hundreds of years before Europe emerged from the Dark Ages.  Ancient ruins in the Taos Valley indicate our people lived here nearly 1000 years ago.  The main part of the present buildings were most likely constructed between 1000 and 1450 AD  They appeared much as they do today when the first Spanish explorers arrived in Northern New Mexico in 1540 ....  They are considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the USA.

San Geronimo Church , built in 1850
and a Registered National Historic Landmark,
is getting a facelift.

Most Indian places have "rules" for shooting pictures.
One does not aim a camera towards an Indian's face
and shoot blithely away.
One may ask,
and one may get a yay or a nay.
And one is expected to tip.

Eye contact practically begs a tip.

The Pueblo is made entirely of adobe - earth mixed with water and straw, then either poured into forms or made into sun-dried bricks.  The walls are frequently several feet thick.  The roofs of each of the five stories are supported by large timbers - vigas - hauled down from the mountain forests.  Smaller pieces of wood - pine or aspen latilla - are placed side-by-side on top of the vigas; the whole roof is covered with packed dirt.  The outside surfaces of the Pueblo are continuously maintained by replastering with thick layers of mud.  Interior walls are carefully coated with thin washes of white earth to keep them clean and bright.  The Pueblo is actually many individual homes, built side-by-side and in layers, with common walls but no connecting doorways.  In earlier days there were no doors or windows and entry was gained only from the top - by ladder through openings through the rooftop.  This served as a source of light then as it still does today.  The roof top entrances also served as a safe guard against intruders of the pueblo.  If an enemy was approaching, the ladders were pulled from the ground levels to the rooftops.

Approximately 150 people live within the Pueblo full time. 
Other families owning homes in the North or South buildings live in summer homes near their fields, and in more modern homes outside the old walls, but still within Pueblo land.  There are over 1900 Indians living on Taos Pueblo lands.

Here we have Mirabal's
Pottery, Jewelry, and Ocarinas.


I shot the church window from the outside,
since I know I'm not going to be able to
shoot it from the inside.

Pueblo tradition dictates that no electricity
or running water be allowed within the Pueblo walls.
Most members live in conventional homes
 outside the village walls,
but occupy their Pueblo houses for ceremonials.

Tiwa Kitchen's outdoor oven bakery.
 Jewelry Pottery Leather
Handmade crafts

Buckskin crafts

All the dogs look the same.

Red, white, and blue.
I like it.

Horno is a Spanish word to describe 
the outdoor adobe oven
that is used mostly to bake bread and pastries
by the women of the Pueblo.
A cedar fire is built to heat the oven,
then the ash is removed.
The loaves/pastries are place inside to bake.
The horno is also perfect
for baking large portions of wild game and vegetables.

Hands on Silver
by Wings
Native Jewelry

The present San Geronimo, or St. Jerome, Chapel was completed in 1850 to replace the original church which was destroyed in the War with Mexico by the U.S. Army in 1847.  That church, the ruins still evident on the west side of the village, was first built in 1619.  It was then destroyed in the Spanish Revolt of 1680 but soon rebuilt on the same site.  St. Jerome is the patron saint of Taos Pueblo.

The San Geronimo Church ...  is a Registered Historic Landmark.  It is one of the youngest buildings in the village.  It is an extraordinary example of the architectural achievements of the natives. As you enter, note the fine carved wooden beans or Vigas and choir loft.  Also, note the thickness of the adobe walls that support the high ceiling and offer the best natural insulation.  Therefore, the summers are cool and the winters are warm inside these thick walls.  The central altar figure or Santo is the Virgin Mary, which along with other Santos were brought by the early Spanish missionaries. The Virgin Mary within the native religion depicts the parallel of Mother Nature.  The outfits that drape the saints are changed according to the seasons.  The Natives incorporated their values into the altar to be reminded of cultural values.  To the right is a symbolic casket, which were placed in missions throughout the new World to convert the natives to Catholic funeral practices.

Today about 3/4 of the population shares in some of the Catholic practices, while the native rituals perseveres 100% in daily life.  The Native religion is verbally passed down from generation to generation.  The Kivas are just one of the sacred religious shrines.  The are off limits to non-members.

I liked the church door.

The Pueblo Indians are about 90% Catholic.  Catholicism is practiced along with the ancient Indian religious rites which are an important part of Taos Pueblo life.  The Pueblo religion is very complex; however, there is no conflict with the Catholic church, as evidenced by the prominent presence of both church and kiva in the village.

This is "The River."
The Red Willow Creek is so named
after the willows that grow along the banks.
It is the life source and sole source
of drinking water for the natives of Taos Pueblo.
Water is carried to the home by pottery and/or pails.
 It divides the Pueblo in  the 'North Side
and the 'South Side.'

High above in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the crystal clear water flows from a sacred source known as Blue Lake.  The Blue Lake and surrounding wilderness are sacred sites, therefore non-tribal members are not allowed to trek into these areas.  Blue Lake and the River have long been a part of the legend of the Taos Pueblo people.


Please resist the urge to wade in the water and keep your pets out of the river.


Tribal Government
 The Tribal Council is composed of over 30 former tribal leaders.  The Council elects and appoints the Officials of the Governors Office and the Warchiefs Office.  These Officials are appointed for every new calendar yer.  The Governor and his 9 officials are concerned with civil and business issues within the village and the relations with the non-Indian world.   The Warchief and his 11 officials are responsible for the protection of the tribal lands outside of the village walls and for the protection of wildlife and natural resources.
Conservation and preservation of the Sacred Village and the Blue Lake Wilderness Area are of primary concern to the Taos Pueblo.  The Pueblo's goal is to maintain the area of over 100,000 acres in its most natural state - protecting trees, water, fish, wildlife, soils, and land from damage.  The Taos Pueblo Wilderness Act provided the tribe with exclusive use of the area for traditional purposes, and is closed to the general public.

The wind was whuppin' up,
and dust and sand projectiles were piercing our eyes,
so the Hawthornes were ready to leave.
We didn't see the whole place,
but we saw enough.


Anonymous said...

Where are the people? Pics remind me of an abandoned town, except for the dogs. Love the cross in the sky.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

Anony, One cannot shoot photographs of the Natives. That's where the people are. My take on this: It is not what it purports to be. It's trinkets and gee gaws. And maybe a few actually live here, but I don't think so. It's a tourist dive.

Rosie Hawthorne said...

PS I liked the cross too.
Polarizing filters are de bombe.

Anonymous said...

You shouldn't say what u don't know u don't have to tip a native to take a photo u must ask to take the photo out of respect jus like u would anyone else many live at the pueblo and these homes are used all year for many traditional things that people like u wouldn't understand and know nothing about have some respect