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Taos Pueblo

Native American Heritage along the Enchanted Circle

One of the compelling reasons bringing people to Northern New Mexico and especially the Enchanted Circle is the opportunity to see and experience the timeless way of life the pueblo people continue to pursue.  By carefully preserving their important cultural imperatives, language and religious rituals, the native peoples have been able to maintain their traditional way of life and pass on their heritage to each successive generation through oral traditions.  While many live with a foot in both worlds, they carefully guard their culture.  They are welcoming in that they wish to share the historic nature of their pueblos in an effort to educate, but will be more guarded in revealing the details of their traditions.

The best way to experience a living piece of history is to attend the ceremonial dances held throughout the year at each of the pueblos.  No cameras are permitted during these events, but each leaves a lasting impression on the hearts and minds of its visitors.

In the Taos area, there are two ways to experience the magic of the living Tiwa culture:

Taos Pueblo, located just northeast of the Taos Plaza Historic District, is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. The multi-story adobe buildings have been continuously inhabited for over a 1,000 years.

The people have a detailed oral history which is not divulged due to religious privacy. Archaeologists 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 the Tiwa lived here nearly 1000 years ago. The main part of the present buildings were most likely constructed between 1000 and 1450 A.D. The appeared much as they do today when the first Spanish explorers arrived in Northern New Mexico in 1540 and believed that the Pueblo was one of the fabled golden cities of Cibola. The two structures called Hlauuma (north house) and Hlaukwima (south house) are said to be of similar age. They are considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the USA.

Visitors are welcome, although the Pueblo does close for annual kiva ceremonies and funerals, so it is best to call ahead for hours and entrance fees www.taospueblo.com  or 575-758-1028.  Photography is permitted during non-ceremonial periods for an additional fee.

 

TAOS PUEBLO CALENDAR OF EVENTS


Jan. 1, Turtle Dance
Jan. 6, Deer or Buffalo Dance
Feb - Mar (approx.), Spring Closure
May 3, Santa Cruz Feast Day, Foot Races
June 13, San Antonio Feast Day, Corn Dance
June 24, San Juan Day, Corn Dance
July 11-13, Annual Taos Pueblo Pow Wow
July 25, Santiago Day, Corn Dance
July 26, Santa Ana Day, Corn Dance
Last week of August, Closed
Sept. 29, San Geronimo Eve Vespers
Sept. 30, San Geronimo Day Feast Day
Dec. 24, Procession of the Blessed Mother
Dec. 25, Deer or Matachines Dance
(All dates are approximate)

Picuris Pueblo, located 24 miles southeast of Taos in the Sangre de Cristos Mountains, was once the largest of all the Tiwa pueblos although today it is the smallest and is mostly in ruins.  Here the influence of the Plains Indian culture meets that of the Pueblo peoples, making it unique among the 8 Northern Pueblos sites.   Call ahead for directions, fees, Visitor Center and tour or ceremonial hours, www.picurispueblo.com or 575-587-1099.

PICURIS PUEBLO CALENDAR OF EVENTS
Jan. 1, Transfer of Canes, Ceremonial Dance
Jan. 6, King's Day Celebration/Reyes Day, Ceremonial Dance
Jan. 25, St. Paul's Feast Day, Ceremonial Dance
Feb. 2, Candelaria Feast Day, Ceremonial Dance
June 13, San Anthony's Feast Day, Children's Traditional Foot Races
Aug. 9, San Lorenzo Sunset Dance & Vespers
Aug. 10, San Lorenzo Feast Day, Traditional Foot Races, Ceremonial Dance, Traditional Pole Climbing
Dec. 24, Sundown Torchlight Procession of the Virgin Vespers, Matachines Dance
Dec. 25, Matachines Dance
Dec. 28, Holy Innocent's Day, Children's Dance
(All dates are approximate)

For those interested in an unreconstructed archeological site near Taos, Pot Creek offers an easy one-mile self-guided loop walk through a scrub forest to the remains of a small Tiwa pueblo where potsherds can often still be seen, especially after a rain.  The site is located about seven miles southeast of Taos on Hwy 518 on the left-hand side.  There is Forest Service type signage near a gate indicating the site and typically it will appear to be closed.  Park near the fence, enter around the gate, and follow the circle loop to the right with its clear markers describing the flora and fauna in the area as well as the site ruins themselves.  Allow about 1 hour for your visit.

A not-to-be-missed opportunity to view historic pottery, jewelry and rugs of the Southwest is the Millicent Rogers Museum just northwest of Taos.  Standard Oil heiress Millicent Rogers fell in love with Taos during the early part of the 20th century, relocating here and raising a family while continuing to actively collect all things Southwest.  Her eponymous museum continues to pay tribute to her vision and her memory, and contains extensive representational silver and turquoise pieces, the largest collection extant of Maria Martinez Acoma pottery as well as Navajo weavings.  Located north of Taos on Hwy 68; turn left at Millicent Rogers Road.  The museum will be about ½ mile south on the right.  Contact the museum at 575-758-2462 or www.millicentrogers.org for hours and entry fees.

Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated both a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark.

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