Published on May 6, 2012 by Amy
Taos Pueblo (or Pueblo de Taos) is an ancient pueblo belonging to a Taos (Northern Tiwa) speaking Native American tribe of Pueblo people. It is approximately 1000 years old and lies about 1-mile (1.6 km) north of the modern city of Taos, New Mexico, USA. The Red Willow Creek, or Rio Pueblo de Taos (also called Rio Pueblo), is a small stream which flows through the middle of the pueblo from its source in the Sangre de Cristo Range. A reservation of 95,000 acres (380 km2) is attached to the pueblo, and about 1,900 people live in this area.
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Taos Pueblo is a member of the Eight Northern Pueblos. The Taos community is known for being one of the most secretive and conservative pueblos.
Taos Pueblo’s most prominent architectural feature is a multi-storied residential complex of reddish-brown adobe divided into two parts by the Rio Pueblo. According to the Pueblo’s Web site, it was probably built between 1000 and 1450 A.D. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on October 9, 1960, and in 1992 became a World Heritage Site. As of 2006, about 150 people live in it full-time.
In the Taos language, the pueblo is referred to as “the village” in either tə̂otho “in the village” (tə̂o- “village” + -tho “in”) or tə̂obo “to/toward the village” (tə̂o- “village” + -bo “to, toward”). The proper name of the pueblo is ȉałopháymųp’ȍhə́othə̀olbo “at red willow canyon mouth” (or ȉałopháybo “at the red willows” for short); however, this name is more commonly used in ceremonial contexts and is less common in everyday speech.
The name Taos in English was borrowed from Spanish Taos. Spanish Taos is probably a borrowing of Taos tə̂o- “village” which was heard as tao to which the plural -s was added although in the modern language Taos is no longer a plural noun. The idea that Spanish Taos is from tao “cross of the order of San Juan de los Cabelleros” (from Greek tau) is unlikely.
Most archeologists believe that the Taos Indians along with other Pueblo Indians settled along the Rio Grande migrated from the Four Corners region. The dwellings of that region were inhabited by the Anasazi, and a long drought in the area in the late 13th century may have caused them to move to the Rio Grande where the water supply was more dependable.
The history of Taos Pueblo includes the plotting of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, a siege by U.S. forces in 1847, and the return by President Nixon in 1970 of the Pueblo’s 48,000 acres (190 km2) of mountain land taken by President Theodore Roosevelt and designated as the Carson National Forest early in the 20th century. Blue Lake, which the people of the Pueblo traditionally consider sacred, was included in this return of Taos land. The Pueblo’s web site names the acquisition of the sacred Blue Lake as the most important event in its history due to the spiritual belief that the Taos natives originated from the lake itself. An additional 764 acres (3.09 km2) south of the ridge between Simpson Peak and Old Mike Peak and west of Blue Lake were transferred back to the Pueblo in 1996.
“The Padre of Isleta”, Anton Docher first served as a priest in Taos before his long time spent in Isleta.
The North-Side Pueblo is said to be one of the most photographed and painted buildings in the Western Hemisphere. It is the largest multistoried Pueblo structure still existing. It is made of adobe walls that are often several feet thick. Its primary purpose was for defense. Up to as late as 1900, access to the rooms on lower floors was by ladders on the outside to the roof, and then down an inside ladder. In case of an attack, outside ladders could easily be pulled up.
The homes in this structure usually consist of two rooms, one of which is for general living and sleeping, and the second of which is for cooking, eating, and storage. Each home is self-contained; there are no passageways between the houses. Taos Indians made little use of furniture in the past, but today they have tables, chairs, and beds. In the Pueblo, electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing are prohibited.
The pueblo wall completely encloses the village except at the entrance as a symbol of the village boundaries. Now rather short, the wall used to be much taller for protection against surrounding tribes. The river running through the pueblo serves as the primary source for drinking and cooking water for the residents of the village. In the winter, the river never completely freezes although it does form a heavy layer of ice. Because the river moves so swiftly, the ice can be broken to obtain the fresh water beneath.
Three religions are represented in the Pueblo: Christianity, the aboriginal religion, and the Native American Church. Eighty percent of the Taos Pueblo community is baptized; however, only twenty percent are practicing Roman Catholics. The majority of Taos Indians practice their still-vital, ancient indigenous religion (Taos Pueblo Public Tour; 30 July 2010). Saint Jerome, or San Geronimo, is the patron saint of the pueblo.
The deep feeling of belonging to a community, summed up in their phrase, “we are in one nest,” has held the Taos people together. Both men and women are expected to offer their services or “community duties,” when needed. One should be cooperative and never allow their own desires to be destructive of the community’s interest. One of Taos’s strongest institutions is the family. Descent on both the father and the mother’s side of the family is equally recognized. Each primary family lives in a separate dwelling so when a couple gets married, they move to their own home. With relatives so near by, everyone is available to help care for the children. The elderly teach the young the values and traditions that have been handed down, which protects the integrity of the Taos culture.