This is our Frequently Asked Questions Blog.
As a sovereign nation within the United States, preserving our ancient traditions in the face of advancement of “modernization” is our prime concern. We are encouraged by an increased population of tribal members choosing to remain in Taos, as well as by these actions acknowledging Taos’ important cultural heritage: Taos declared a National Historic landmark in 1965; Blue Lake returned to Taos in 1970; Taos Pueblo admitted to the World Heritage Society in 1992 as one of the most significant historical cultural landmarks in the world (other sites include the Taj Mahal, Great Pyramids and the Grand Canyon in the United States).
The single most dramatic event in the recent history of Taos Pueblo land is the 1970 return of 48,000 acres of mountain land including the sacred Blue Lake. It was taken by the U.S. Government in 1906 to become part of the National Forest lands. Among the ritual sites where Taos people go for ceremonial reasons, Blue Lake is perhaps the most important. Its return is a tribute to the tenacity of Pueblo leaders and to the community’s commitment to guarding its lands for the spiritual, cultural and economic health of the Pueblo. The return of this land capped a long history of struggle. Blue Lake and mountains are off-limits to all but members of our Pueblo.
Taos is the northernmost of the nineteen New Mexico Pueblos. Our language is most closely related to that of Picuris, Isleta and Sandia Pueblos, but we are not related by blood. We traditionally trade with the Plains and other Pueblo Indians, particularly at our San Geronimo Day fair in September. A Pow Wow, held each July, brings Indians from many tribes to Taos for a Native American weekend of trade and social festivities.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs maintains an elementary school, located behind the south Pueblo in an area restricted to the public. The majority of teachers are Indian. There is also a preschool program for three and four-year-olds. An education committee comprised of Pueblo members oversees the education of students and monitors a scholarship program for students wishing higher education. Indian children also attend public schools in the Town of Taos.
Mica-flecked pottery and silver jewelry are made by local artisans and sold at many of the individually owned curio shops within the Pueblo. The Taos Indians, being great hunters, are also famous for their work with animal skins — moccasins, boots and drums. There are a growing number of contemporary Pueblo fine artists, combining Indian tradition with modern artistic expression. The outstanding Taos Pueblo trademark is the natural look, that is, the enhancement of natural material appearance without additional coloration.
The Pueblo Indians are about 90% Catholic. Catholicism is practiced along with the ancient Indian religious rites which are an important part of Taos Pueblo life. The Pueblo religion is very complex; however, there is no conflict with the Catholic church, as evidenced by the prominent presence of both church and kiva in the village.
The present San Geronimo, or St. Jerome, Chapel was completed in 1850 to replace the original church which was destroyed in the War with Mexico by the U.S. Army in 1847. That church, the ruins still evident on the west side of the village, was first built in 1619. It was then destroyed in the Spanish Revolt of 1680 but soon rebuilt on the same site. St. Jerome is the patron saint of Taos Pueblo.
The tourist trade, arts, traditional crafts and food concessions are important employment sources at the Pueblo. Some tribal members are employed in the Town of Taos. The Pueblo has a centralized management system where tribal members are employed in a variety of occupations.
A tribal governor and war chief, along with staffs for each, are appointed yearly by the Tribal Council, a group of some 50 male tribal elders. The tribal governor and his staff are concerned with civil and business issues within the village and relations with the non-Indian world. The war chief and staff deal with the protection of the mountains and Indian lands outside the Pueblo walls.
Our traditions dictate that no electricity or running water be allowed within the Pueblo walls. Most members live in conventional homes outside the village walls, but occupy their Pueblo houses for ceremonials.
The Pueblo is generally open to visitors daily from 8 am to 4:30 pm, except when tribal rituals require closing the Pueblo. Late winter to early Spring the Pueblo closes for about ten weeks. Please call ahead if you’ll be visiting during this time, 758-1028.
The land base is 99,000 acres with an elevation of 7,200 feet at the village.The land base is 99,000 acres with an elevation of 7,200 feet at the village.
Approximately 150 people live within the Pueblo full time. Other families owning homes in the North or South buildings live in summer homes near their fields, and in more modern homes outside the old walls but still within Pueblo land. There are over 1900 Taos Indians living on Taos Pueblo lands.
Tiwa is our native language. English and Spanish are also spoken.