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Taos Pueblo

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120 Veterans Highway, Taos, NM 87571, United States
Taos , New Mexico

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. They are considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.

Taos Pueblo is a member of the Eight Northern Pueblos. The Taos community is known for being one of the most private, secretive, and conservative pueblos. A reservation of 95,000 acres (384 km) is attached to the pueblo, and about 4,500 people live in this area

Setting

The Rio Pueblo de Taos, also called Rio Pueblo and Red Willow Creek, is a small stream which flows through the middle of the pueblo compound. It comes from headwaters in the nearby Taos Mountains of the Sangre de Cristo Range.

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. The Pueblo's website states it was probably built between 1000 and 1450 CE.

The pueblo 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 the historic complex full-time.

Name

In the Taos language, the pueblo is referred to as "the village" in either teotho "in the village" (teo- "village" + -tho "in") or "to/toward the village" . The proper name of the pueblo is ialophaymup’oheotheolbo "at red willow canyon mouth" (or ialophaybo "at the red willows" for short);however, this name is more commonly used in ceremonial contexts and is less common in everyday speech.

Spanish language

The name Taos in English was borrowed from Spanish Taos. Spanish Taos is probably a borrowing of Taos to- "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.

History

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 Ancient Pueblo Peoples (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.

Throughout its early years, Taos Pueblo was a central point of trade between the native populations along the Rio Grande and their neighbors to the northeast, the Plains Tribes. Taos Pueblo hosted a trade fair each fall after the agricultural harvest.

Post-contact

The first Spanish visitors to Taos Pueblo arrived in 1540 as members of the Francisco Vasquez de Coronado expedition, which stopped at many of New Mexico’s pueblos in search of the rumored Seven Cities of Gold. Around 1620, the first Catholic Church in the pueblo, San Geronimo de Taos, was constructed. Reports from the period indicate that the native people of Taos resisted the building of the church and the imposition of the Catholic religion. Throughout the 1600s, cultural tensions grew between the native populations of the Southwest and the increasing Spanish presence. Taos Pueblo was no exception, and by 1660, the native people killed the resident priest and destroyed the church. Only several years after its rebuilding, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 began and the Taos Indians again destroyed San Geronimo and killed two other priests.

Taos Mountain

The Pueblo's 48,000 acres (194 km) of mountain land was taken by President Theodore Roosevelt and designated as the Carson National Forest early in the 20th century. It was finally returned in 1970 by President Nixon.[10] 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.

Blue Lake

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.

Architecture

At the time of the Spaniards' initial contact, Hernando de Alvarado described the pueblo as having adobe houses built very close together and stacked five or six stories high. The homes became narrower as they rose, with the roofs of each level providing the floors and terraces for those above.

The buildings at Taos originally had few windows and no standard doorways. Instead, access to rooms was through square holes in the roof that the people reached by climbing long, wooden ladders. Cedar logs (or vigas) supported roofs that had layers of branches, grass, mud, and plaster covering them. The architecture and the building materials were well suited for the rigors of the environment and the needs of the people in the Taos Valley.

Main structure

The north-side Pueblo is said to be one of the most photographed and painted buildings in North America.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.

Homes

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.

Spiritual community

Two spiritual practices are represented in the Pueblo: the original indigenous spiritual and religious tradition and Roman Catholicism. The majority of Taos Indians practice their still-vital, ancient indigenous religion. Most (90%) members of the Taos Pueblo community are baptized as Roman Catholics.Saint Jerome, or San Geronimo, is the patron saint of the pueblo.

One nest

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 one's own desires to be destructive of the community’s interest.

Family

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.

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