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Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Place of the Red Willow

Taos Pueblo is considered to be the oldest continuously habited community in the United States.  The Native American tribe of the Pueblo people have lived here for 1000 years. 

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Before going any further, with respect for the Pueblo people, I please ask that you do not “pin”, copy, save or try to sell any of the photos in this post. It is a requirement of the heritage site that one must pay for the right to photograph the village (which I did so) as the fees are an important source of income that contributes to the village maintenance.

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Taos Pueblo is located on the banks of the Red Willow Creek in Taos, New Mexico.

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On October 9, 1960 the pueblo was designated a National Historic Landmark and in 1992 it was inscribed by Unesco as the first living world heritage site. 

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The reservation is approximately 95,000 acres, about 4,500 people live on the reservation. Of that about 150 people live in the historic complex full time.  

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This is amazing given that most of the buildings at the site are 1000 years old and have NO electricity or running water. Water is carried to the home from the creek.

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The two main structures of the Pueblo are the Hlaukkwima (or South House) and the Hlaauma (North House.)

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They are many buildings built side by side, layer upon layer with common walls but no connecting doorways.

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The Pueblo has not changed very much in 1000 years. The exception was the addition of doorways. Long ago the only entryway into the homes was by ladder through an opening in the rooftops. This served as a safeguard. If an enemy approached the ladders were pulled up from the ground and onto the roof.

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The openings in the rooftops also served as a source of light and remain in place. Here you can see a Pueblo ceiling that has been modernized. The opening has been transformed into a skylight.

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Many of the ceilings still have the original construction in place. Small wood “latillas” are placed across the “vigas”. The roof is then topped and compacted with earth. All the ceilings and walls are coated in washes of white earth to keep the rooms clean and bright.

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All of the buildings are made of adobe. Adobe is made from straw, earth and water that is mixed and poured into brick forms. After the bricks are dried in the sun they are stacked and bonded together using the same mixture of adobe. The exteriors are plastered annually with adobe given that the adobe wears away due to exposure to the elements of the four seasons.

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While some of the families have added a wood stove to their homes many still use a “horno” which is an outdoor adobe oven. (You can see the rounded horno next to the aqua door.)

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There are several Native American artists within the community and some created galleries in their homes.

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This lovely gentleman was an amazing painter and leatherworker. We were truly interested in his family heritage and spent quite a bit of time speaking with him. Most of the Pueblo people are fluent in English as well as their native language, Tiwa which is unwritten, unrecorded and will remain so.  The traditional Pueblo values are guarded as sacred. After a time I respectfully asked for permission to take his picture.  

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There is one building that is fairly new~ the San Geronimo Church was built in 1850.

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It was made famous in 1941 when photographer Ansel Adams captured a series of shots.

About 3/4 of the population still observes some of the Catholic practices which was brought to the area by Spanish priests around 1619.

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There is no photography allowed inside the church which I respected, however I will report it is a lovely space.

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The church is an extraordinary example of native architecture which features carved beams and posts and thick adobe walls.

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Only rubble remains where the original San Geronimo Church once stood. It was constructed in 1706. Sadly when the Spanish priests first arrived they forced the natives into slavery so that they could become “civilized”. This led to a revolt in 1680. The people lived freely once more for awhile. In 1847 several of the Pueblo leaders were taken to the town plaza and hung. US troops destroyed the church leaving only the bell tower standing. As so many lives were lost it was turned into the cemetery.

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In addition to Christianity the Pueblo people still practice their ancient rituals and customs. Their sacred religious shrines are known as “kiva’s” and off limits to the non-members. 

The Pueblo are a lovely, peaceful people. I cannot begin to express the joy and happiness I felt within the village. I feel so honored to have had such an amazing experience. Therein lies the secret to a peaceful world… 

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Many are fearful of what they do not understand. If we strived to communicate and respect one another’s differences the world could live and love as one, no matter what creed or color.

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In harmony,


“Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be wise in your own sight.” ~ Romans 12:16

“And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” ~ Colossians 3:14

“Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor.” ~ Romans 12:10


Michele @ The Nest at Finch Rest said...

Oh, Laura, this was such a wonderful post - thank you for sharing this amazing experience with all of us!

I knew very little of this, and feel so honored to know now. Thanks so much for the spiritual reminders too - the quotes you chose are perfect. Have a blessed Sunday!

ℳartina @ Northern Nesting said...

BEAUTIFUL Laura!! Thank you for sharing this with us!

Karena Albert said...

Somehow Laura this feature has given me so much peace, (I had a challenging night with my leg)
I had so many spiritual thoughts reading this and also memories of both Ansel Adams and Georgia O'Keefe's works of art!
Thank you for sharing!

The Arts by Karena

Gypsy Heart said...

Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful photos! I absolutely LOVE that area ~ I feel "at home" when I'm in Northern New Mexico. One of my grandmothers was part Native American and I've had a life long affection for these people who have been treated so horribly. They have many incredible rituals and daily living habits...we would all be so fortunate to be able to participate. Years ago, there was a Medicine Man here in Arlington and I saw him for allergies, etc. The herbs he shared were absolutely wonderful ~ I could breathe and felt energized! Sadly, he moved away and now I have to give myself allergy shots 2x a week + meds. Not the way to live!

Thank you again ~

vintage girl at heart said...

Amazing images and history. Thanks for sharing with us.

Rita C. said...

Laura, this is beautiful. Yes, the rituals and customs of the Native Americans are sacred, and rightfully to be respected by those of us who now live on those lands formerly belonging to those people, here long before us. It is a blessing to this country to still have preservation of some of the NA culture. Thank you for this tour - beautiful photos, and the gentleman who allowed your taking his photo is strikingly proud in his posture. It is a shame what ruins were made of such a sacred place, in the name of religion and civilization.

Magali@TheLittleWhiteHouse said...

That was a very intersting post to read. Your pictures are beautiful.


What a beautiful post dear Laura. I love this place, I'm for one adore places like this that are a world cultural patrimony. Incredible that it's the oldest town in the USA, amazing trip. You and your son look adorable! I'm so happy it was kept at least what was left of it...sometimes we are such degraders. Thank you so much for sharing and for visiting me. Quito and Cuenca, where I live, are both Patrimony of Humanity.
Have a lovely week.

Consider It All Joy said...

This is a beautiful and respectful post, Laura! Thank you so much for sharing a bit of history with your readers! I appreciate it and enjoyed reading this! Blessings, Cindy

Lana L. said...

Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful and unique photos with us! What a lovely place.

Grammy Goodwill said...

Thank you for this lovely look into a part of the country I have never seen. You treated it with such sensitivity.

Charlotte said...

We visited there several years ago. Some of your photos look a lot like the ones I took. Do they still charge you to take pictures? I thought that was strange. I'm glad you're planning to share with us on Spiritual Sundays.
Hugs & Blessings,

The Art of Doing Stuff said...

I made an adobe oven last summer! It's fantastic. Probably the greatest project I've ever done. And I've done a lot. I absolutely loved seeing photos of the real thing in its original surroundings. Loved it. ~ karen!