Taos Pueblo (NM)


When the Catholic Church under the Spaniards tried to Christianize pueblo peoples in the seventeenth century, one of the biggest revolters were the Taos. Resistance to religious imposition lasted for many years, resulting in the killing of priests and destruction of St. Jerome church on two separate occasions, until over a period of time, St. Jerome’s was erected for a third time and Catholic beliefs became established. I think though it’s true to say that the practice of religion among Pueblo Indians today is a hybrid of Catholicism and traditional beliefs.

The Taos Pueblo lies just north of Taos, NM, an ancient community that had its beginning about 1,000 years ago. It’s clear that, with the advent of tourism among the Pueblo communities, there was a rise in organized tours and commercial opportunities that come with it. When we arrived at the pueblo, we were directed to a dirt parking lot where we had to pay $10. We were then told to meet at the center, from where we were led on a “gratuity-based tour,” as the guide put it.

Immediately noticeable were two distinctive residential, multi-storied adobe complexes that flank the pueblo to the north and south (see above). So architecturally unique they are that they’ve been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. placed on the National Register of Historic Places and are the subject of many photographers. The Taos also have kivas, a recurrent religious and architectural building throughout the Southwest that seems (to us anyway) to have had their roots in the great Chacoan civilization. Within the pueblo lies the Church of St. Jerome, inside which are the ruins of the old church.

St Jerome
As well as English, the residents speak a form of Tiwa. Also, like other Puebloan people, their pueblo has no electricity, running water or sewer system. Unlike other pueblos, they do have a stream (Red Willow Creek) that runs through it, fed by sacred Blue Lake in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, that is pure enough to drink.

Red Willow Creek

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