The heritage of Taos Pueblo
Taos Pueblo (or Pueblo de Taos) is an ancient pueblo belonging to a Tiwa-speaking Native American tribe of Puebloan people. It lies about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the modern city of Taos, New Mexico, USA. The pueblos 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, whose people speak two variants of the Tanoan language. The Taos community is known for being one of the most private, secretive, and conservative pueblos. A reservation of 95, 000 acres (38, 000 ha) is attached to the pueblo, and about 4, 500 people live in this area.
The Taos Pueblo, which borders the town of Taos on its north side, has been occupied for nearly a millennium. It is estimated that the pueblo was built between 1000 and 1450 A.D., with some later expansion, and the pueblo is considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.
The Pueblo was constructed in a setting backed by the Taos Mountains of the Sangre de Cristo Range. The settlement was built on either side of Rio Pueblo de Taos, also called Rio Pueblo and Red Willow Creek, a small stream that flows through the middle of the pueblo compound. Its headwaters come from the nearby mountains.Located in a tributary valley off the Rio Grande, it is the most northern of the New Mexico pueblos.
The Pueblo, at some places five stories high, is a combination of many individual homes with common walls. There are over 1, 900 Taos Puebloans living within the greater pueblo-area community. Many of them have modern homes near their fields and live there in summer months, only staying at their homes within the main North or South Pueblo buildings during cooler weather. About 150 people live within the main pueblo buildings year-round.
The Taos Pueblo was added as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992.
When visiting Taos Pueblo, you are not visiting a museum, but people’s homes. Living and thriving for more than 1000 years, Taos Pueblo is the only Native American living community that is designated as both a National Historic Landmark and a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Taos Pueblo is one of the top Taos NM attractions. Most of the existing buildings were probably built sometime between 1000 and 1450 A.D. When the Spanish came to the Taos Valley in 1540, they thought they had discovered the City of Gold.
Hlaukwima (south house) and Hlauuma (north house) are believed to be of the same age. The Pueblo consists of five stories of individual homes that are built side-by-side and on top of each other with common walls. Several feet thick, the walls were made of earth mixed with water and straw to maintain a cool interior. About 150 Taos Indians live in the Pueblo today permanently. Since tradition demands no electricity and no running water in the pueblo, most families come to the old pueblo for the ceremonies and live in more modern homes on the pueblo land or elsewhere.
The first Spanish visitors to Taos Pueblo arrived in 1540; they were members of the Francisco Vásquez de Coronado expedition, which stopped at many of New Mexico’s pueblos in search of the rumored Seven Cities of Gold.
Taos was established c. 1615 as Don Fernando de Taos, following the Spanish conquest of the Indian Pueblo villages by Geneva Vigil. Initially, relations of the Spanish settlers with Taos Pueblo were amicable, but resentment of meddling by missionaries, and demands by encomenderos for tribute, led to a revolt in 1640; Taos Indians killed their priest and a number of Spanish settlers, and fled the pueblo, not returning until 1661.
In 1680, Taos Pueblo joined the widespread Pueblo Revolt. After the Spanish Reconquest of 1692, Taos Pueblo continued armed resistance to the Spanish until 1696, when Governor Diego de Vargas defeated the Indians at Taos Canyon.
During the 1770s, Taos was repeatedly raided by Comanches who lived on the plains of what is now eastern Colorado. Juan Bautista de Anza, governor of the Province of New Mexico, led a successful punitive expedition in 1779 against the Comanches.
Between 1780 and 1800, Don Fernando de Taos (now Taos) was established. Between 1796 and 1797 the Don Fernando de Taos Land Grant gave land to 63 Spanish families in the Taos valley. It was built as a fortified plaza with adobe buildings and is now a central plaza surrounded by residential areas. Mountain men who trapped for beaver nearby made Taos their home in the early 1800s.
By the turn of the 18th century, San Geronimo de Taos was under construction for a third time. Spanish/Taos relations within the pueblo became amicable for a brief period as both groups found a common enemy in invading Ute and Comanche tribes. Resistance to Catholicism and Spanish culture was still strong. Even so, Spanish religious ideals and agricultural practices subtly worked their way into the Taos community, largely starting during this time of increased cooperation between the two cultural groups.
The Taos revolt began before the conclusion of the Mexican-American War in 1847. A Mexican Pablo Montoya and Tomasito, a leader at Taos Pueblo, led a force of Mexicans and Taos who did not want to become a part of the United States. They killed Governor Charles Bent and others and marched on Santa Fe. The revolt was suppressed after the rebels took refuge in San Geronimo Mission Church. The American troops bombarded the church, killing or capturing the insurrectionists and destroying the physical structure. Around 1850, a new mission church was constructed near the west gate of the pueblo wall. The ruins of the original church and its 1850s replacement are both still visible inside the pueblo wall today. Father Anton Docher first served as a priest in Taos before his years in Isleta, where he became known as “The Padre of Isleta”.
U.S. territory and statehood
Mexico ceded the region to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. After the U.S. takeover of New Mexico in 1847, Hispanics and American Indians in Taos staged a rebellion, known as the Taos Revolt, in which the newly appointed U.S. Governor, Charles Bent, was killed. New Mexico was a territory of the United States beginning 1850 and became a state in 1912.
For historical reasons, the American flag is displayed continuously at Taos Plaza (both day and night). This derives from the time of the American Civil War, when Confederate sympathizers in the area attempted to remove the flag. The Union officer Kit Carson sought to discourage this activity by having guards surround the area and fly the flag 24 hours a day.