Trip Start Sep 20, 2010
39Trip End Oct 26, 2010
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Where I stayed
White Rock NM
The pueblo looks much the same as it did when the conquistadors discovered it. The only difference is the addition of doorways. Originally the only entry was via ladder through the roof of the house. When invaders approached the ladders were pulled up.
The Church of San Geronimo was built in 1850 with the coming of Catholicism. Today most of the members of the pueblo practice Catholicism as well as their traditional beliefs. This is evident at the alter where both the Virgin Mary and other saints brought in by the Spanish missionaries sit next to symbols of native beliefs and traditions. Our guide talked about the how they are able to maintain their traditions and find a balance between old and new.
The cemetery which sits on the edge of the pueblo is where the original church once stood, only the tower left as a reminder of the atrocities committed when the pueblo became part of the United States and canons were fired into the church destroying it and killing 150 women and children gathered inside.
The buildings inside the pueblo are generally well maintained by the families who have lived there for generations, ownership passing from mother to daughter. Many families choose to live outside the pueblo but maintain ownership and return for ceremonial days. Our guide also mentioned that some members return in the winter when tourism has diminished. She also talked about how they struggle to maintain a balance with their traditional way of life and the pressures of the modern world. The pueblo reflects the past, they have chosen not to have indoor plumbing or electricity, and they continue to get their drinking water from the Red Willow Creek that separates the north and south village and as a source for irrigation. Taos appears to be a well governed pueblo with much of the income from tourism going back into the pueblo, it is used for legal fees and acquiring adjacent lands when they become available. They manage to hunt and fish their land without the patchwork of roads that we see in our national forests and seem to be good stewards of their land.