Pueblo de Taos, located in New Mexico, is a settlement that housed a Native American community for more than seven hundred years. This is only living community that is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Pueblo Indians have lived in these multistoried adobe homes and ceremonial structures since they were constructed in the late 13th and early 14th century. When Spanish explorers arrived in 1540, the settlement that is there now looks the same as they saw. The descendants of the original inhabitants still remain today to carry on the ancient traditions.
Pueblo Indian culture stemmed from the Anasazi Indian tribes that lived in the Four Corners region of the U.S. during prehistoric times. Taos Pueblo in New Mexico is just one though maybe the most impressive existing example of various pueblos built in the Taos valley as far back as the 900’s.
About 150 people today still make their homes full time in the pueblo. Others have houses there but live elsewhere in more modern structures. As required by tradition, no electricity or running water is allowed inside the adobe pueblo.
The adobe is a mixture of earth, water and straw used to construct buildings with thick walls and timber supported roofs. These structures are durable enough to withstand many centuries however they are maintained by a coating of new layers.
The Taos Pueblo is a sovereign nation governed by Tribal Council of elders who appoint a governor and war chief. Most of the inhabitants are 90% Catholics although some still celebrate traditional ancient religious rites passed down from their Native American ancestors. Apart from English and Spanish, Pueblo Indians speak their native language of Tiwa.
Visitors are welcome to visit the area and are seen as an important part of the local economy. The tribe celebrated the 40th anniversary of Richard Nixon’s 1970 decision to return Blue Lake to the Pueblo Indians in 2010.
How To Get There
The pueblo is just outside of the modern town of Taos in New Mexico. The nearest airport is located in Albuquerque some 135 miles south of Taos.
When to Visit
Taos Pueblo is open daily however they have occasional days when they close for tribal rituals. It is also closed for a ten-week period in late winter to early spring.
Visitors are reminded to respect all areas of the pueblo and obey signs that are restricted areas; you may end up wandering into a private home. It is also required that you ask members of the tribe their permission before taking pictures.
Photo: Panoramic Images/Getty Images