The Taos Pueblo
Web Site: http://www.taospueblo.com/
The Taos Pueblo is a must see for visitors to Taos. Located just a few miles from downtown there is easy access from Route 64. The Pueblo is normally open to visitors every day from 8 am until 4:30 pm. There are special days and times when the Pueblo is closed so you can call ahead to be sure. Phone 575-758-1028.
When you visit the Pueblo you can take a tour with a guide and learn about the history of the Taos people. You can also visit the famous San Geronimo church. And you can enter some of the ancient buildings where natives sell hand-made products ranging from jewelry to musical instruments to clothing and food. It is a fantastic experience. The Taos Mountain Casino is also on the Pueblo lands.
Geographically, the Taos Pueblo is the northernmost of nineteen New Mexico Pueblos. Historically it may be the oldest as ancient ruins around the Taos valley indicate the people of this Pueblo lived here nearly 1,000 years ago. The language spoken is Tiwa and is closely related to that of Picuris, Isleta and Sandia Pueblos, but the people here are not related by blood. The word Taos translates as “red willow” in Tiwa, and there are many red willows in the area.
The beautiful Taos Pueblo is built entirely of adobe. Adobe is earth mixed with water and straw which is poured into forms or fashioned into sun-dried bricks. The adobe walls of any particular building may be several feet thick. The tallest buildings in the Pueblo are five stores and the roofs of each of the five stories are supported by large timbers known as vigas. Today approximately 150 people live within the Pueblo full time. Other families live in modern homes outside the old Pueblo, but still within Pueblo land. There are over 1,900 Taos Indians living on the Taos Pueblo lands.
One of the famous structures in the Pueblo is the San Geronimo, or St. Jerome Chapel. This structure was completed in 1850, replacing the original church which was completely destroyed in the war with Mexico by the U.S. Army in 1847. The ruins of the original church built in 1619 are still standing on the west side of the Pueblo. In front of these ruins you will see a very old cemetery. The first church was destroyed in the Spanish Revolt of 1680. The Pueblo Indians are 90% Catholic. Catholicism is practiced alongside and intermixed with ancient Indian religious views and rituals.
The Sacred Blue Lake area is an important aspect of the landscape. Off limits to all buy members of the Pueblo, the 48,000 acres of land including Blue Lake was returned to the Taos people in 1970. It was taken by the U.S. Government in 1906 to become part of the National Forest lands. Blue Lake is one of the sites where Taos people go for sacred ceremonies.