Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo (or Pueblo de Taos) is an ancient pueblo belonging to a Taos-speaking (Tiwa) Native American tribe of Puebloan people. It lies about 1 mile (1.6 km) north of the modern city of Taos, New Mexico. The pueblos are considered to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States.[3] This has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

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. Natives will almost never speak of their religious customs to outsiders, and because their language has never been written down, much of the culture remains unknown to the rest of the world. A reservation of 95,000 acres (38,000 ha) is attached to the pueblo, and about 4,500 people live in this area.[4]

Taos Pueblo
Pueblo de Taos
tə̂otho or tə̂obo
ȉałopháymųp’ȍhə́othə̀olbo or ȉałopháybo
Taos Pueblo 2017-05-05
Taos Pueblo In 2017
LocationTaos Pueblo, New Mexico, U.S.
Coordinates36°26′21″N 105°32′44″W / 36.43917°N 105.54559°WCoordinates: 36°26′21″N 105°32′44″W / 36.43917°N 105.54559°W
Governing bodyNative American tribal government
Official name: Pueblo de Taos
Designated1992 (16th session)
Reference no.492
State PartyUSA
RegionEurope and North America
DesignatedOctober 15, 1966
Reference no.66000496[1]
Area19 acres (7.7 ha)
DesignatedOctober 9, 1960[2]
DesignatedMarch 13, 1972
Reference no.243
Taos Pueblo is located in New Mexico
Taos Pueblo
Location within New Mexico
Taos Pueblo is located in the United States
Taos Pueblo
Location within United States
Total population
4,500 (2010 U.S. Census)
Regions with significant populations
 United States ( New Mexico)
Taos (Tiwa), English, Spanish
Taos religion (Pueblo religion), Christianity
Related ethnic groups
Other Tanoan peoples


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.

Taos Pueblo's most prominent architectural feature is a multi-storied residential complex of reddish-brown adobe, built on either side of the Rio Pueblo. The Pueblo's website states it was probably built between 1000 and 1450.[4]

The pueblo was designated a National Historic Landmark on October 9, 1960. In 1992 it was designated as a UNESCO Heritage Site. As of 2006, about 150 people live in the historic complex full-time.[4]


Taos language

In the Tanoan language of Taos (Northern Tiwa), the pueblo is referred to as "the village" in either tə̂otho "in the village" (tə̂o- "village" + -tho "in") or tə̂obo "to/toward the village" (tə̂o- "village" + -bo "to, toward"). The proper name of the pueblo is ȉałopháymųp’ȍhə́othə̀olbo "at red willow canyon mouth" (or ȉałopháybo "at the red willows" for short).[5] 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 tə̂o- "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 the Spanish Taos is from tao, "cross of the order of San Juan de los Caballeros" (from Greek tau), is unlikely.[6]



Most archeologists believe that the Taos Indians, along with other Pueblo Indians, settled along the Rio Grande after migrating south from the Four Corners region.[7] The dwellings of that region were inhabited by the Ancestral Puebloans. 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. However, their reason for migrating is still disputed and there is evidence that a violent struggle took place. Ultimately, archeological clues point to the idea that the Natives may have been forced to leave.

Throughout its early years, Taos Pueblo was a central point of trade between the native populations along the Rio Grande and their Plains Tribes neighbors to the northeast. Taos Pueblo hosted a trade fair each fall after the agricultural harvest.[8]


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. Around 1620, Spanish Jesuits oversaw construction of the first Catholic Church in the pueblo, the mission of San Geronimo de Taos. Reports from the period indicate that the native people of Taos resisted the building of the church and imposition of the Catholic religion. Throughout the 1600s, cultural tensions grew between the native populations of the Southwest and the increasing Spanish colonial presence. Taos Pueblo was no exception. By 1660, the native people killed the resident priest and destroyed the church. Several years after it was rebuilt, the Pueblo Revolt of 1680 began; the Taos destroyed the church and killed two resident priests.[8]

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.[8]

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.[8] Father Anton Docher first served as a priest in Taos before his years in Isleta, where he became known as "The Padre of Isleta".[9]

In 1924-25 the Taos Pueblo culture was studied by German psychiatrist Carl Jung, who visited the Pueblo led by Ochwiay Biano. He was very interested in indigenous societies as he believed they were more closely in touch with archetypes.

Taos Mountain

South Pueblo, Taos Indian Pueblo. New Mexico
Residential adobe complex, and Taos Mountain. Old postcard, circa 1930-1945.

The Pueblo's 48,000 acres (19,000 ha) 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 the United States when President Nixon signed Public Law 91-550.[10] An additional 764 acres (309 ha) south of the ridge between Simpson Peak and Old Mike Peak and west of Blue Lake were transferred back to the Pueblo in 1996.[11]

Blue Lake

Blue Lake, which the people of the Pueblo consider sacred, was included in this return of Taos land. The Pueblo notably involved non-native people in lobbying the federal government for the return of Blue Lake, as they argued that their unrestricted access to the lake and the surrounding region was necessary to ensure their religious freedom.[12] The Pueblo's web site names the reacquisition of the sacred Blue Lake as the most important event in its history due to the spiritual belief that the Taos people originated from the lake.[13] It is believed that their ancestors live there, and the pueblos themselves only ascend the mountain twice a year.


Ansel Adams - National Archives 79-AA-Q01 restored
Church, Pueblo de Taos (Ansel Adams—1941)

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.[8]

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. Engelmann Spruce 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.[8] Prior to the arrive of Coronado, all Taos Pueblo walls were constructed using balls of adobe (clay) about the size of a 'soft ball', Coronado introduced the technique of the formed mud brick, this technique revolutionized adobe construction in the new world. Coronado also changed the roof structure, to use 2" to 4" inch aspen saplings branches installed at a right angle to the Engelmann Spruce vigas, then 2" to 3" inches of adobe plaster was applied, topped off with up to half a meter of loose soil ( about 18" inches thick ) for insulation and structural strength. Thus indigenous architecture evolved.

The first Spanish-influenced architecture appeared in Taos Pueblo after Fray Francisco de Zamora came there in 1598 to establish a mission, under orders from Spanish Governor, Don Juan de Oñate.[8]

Main structure

Taos Pueblo2
Pueblo de Taos — north side structure, circa 2005.

The north-side Pueblo is said to be one of the most photographed and painted buildings in North America.[14] 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.[7] 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.


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.[7]

Spiritual community

"At Taos Pueblo (National Historic Landmark)." New Mexico, 1933 - 1942 - NARA - 519986
Landscape with pueblo through native cottonwood trees (Populus deltoides) (Ansel Adams—1941)

Religious practices

Two spiritual practices are represented in the Pueblo: the original indigenous spiritual and religious tradition[4] and Roman Catholicism. The majority of Taos Indians practice their still-vital, ancient indigenous religion.[7] Most (90%) members of the Taos Pueblo community are baptized as Roman Catholics.[4] Saint Jerome, or San Geronimo, is the patron saint of the pueblo.[15]

In culture

  • Author and poet Nancy Wood was greatly influenced by her time spent at Taos Pueblo, and it is featured in much of her work.[16]


The Taos Pueblo preservation program received total of 800,000 us dollar grant from the US department of housing and urban development. The fund is aim to hire more workers and especially trained in traditional construction techniques for conservation work, and workshops help for pueblo homeowners that focus on maintenance of traditional adobe homes. Trainees are taught by supervisors on traditional construction methods while rebuilding most of an 11- unit house which had been in a state of near-collapse.[17]

The first phase of the conservation of Taos Pueblo is the construction of the training center, the restoration of 120-150 houses, the training of the local people in the community, create a detailed assessment of the structure of the compound, and the establishment of a cultural center and tribal archives. The second phase was financed by the World Monument Fund. It's listed as its watchlist because of its endangered nature culturally and structurally. By the end of the conservation, 21 adobe houses should be restored. The previous fund has also covered the cost of a laser scanning.

The main characteristics of the conservation of Taos Pueblo is to involve community based approach to conservation. It includes the training of local people to manage their own property and also the establishment of partnership with government and non-government entities. The project aimed to preserving the traditional way of life in the community and at sustaining their cultural traditions.[18]

See also


  1. ^ National Park Service (2010-07-09). "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service.
  2. ^ "National Historic Landmarks Survey, New Mexico" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved December 9, 2016.
  3. ^ "Taos Pueblo", Taos website
  4. ^ a b c d e "About Taos Pueblo". Taos Pueblo. 2012. Retrieved December 10, 2012.
  5. ^ Sturtevant, William C. (1978). Handbook of North American Indians, Volume 9: Southwest. Government Printing Office. p. 267. ISBN 9780160045776. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  6. ^ Jones, William. (1960). "Origin of the place name Taos", Anthropological Linguistics, 2 (3), 2–4; Trager, George L. (1960). "The name of Taos, New Mexico", Anthropological Linguistics, 2 (3), 5–6.
  7. ^ a b c d "Pueblo de Taos". National Geographic Society. Retrieved 2012-12-10.
  8. ^ a b c d e f g "Taos Pueblo". National Park Service. Retrieved 2012-12-10.
  9. ^ Leo Crane. Desert Drums: The Pueblo Indians of New Mexico, 1540–1928. Rio Grande Press, 1972.
  10. ^ Julyan, B: New Mexico's Wilderness Areas: The Complete Guide, page 73. Big Earth Publishing, 1999
  11. ^ "Public Law 104-333" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on October 31, 2008. Retrieved July 19, 2008.
  12. ^ Bodine, John J. (1973). "Blue Lake: A Struggle for Indian Rights". American Indian Law Review. JSTOR 20067803.
  13. ^ Keegan, Marcia (2010). Taos Pueblo and Its Sacred Blue Lake: Reflections on the Fortieth Anniversary from Members of Taos Pueblo. Clear Light Pub. ISBN 9781574160994.
  14. ^ Rodríguez, Sylvia (2009-04-10). The Matachines Dance: A Ritual Dance of the Indian Pueblos and Mexicano/Hispano Communities. Sunstone Press. p. 17. ISBN 9780865346345. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  15. ^ Scott, Sascha T. (2008). Paintings of Pueblo Indians and the Politics of Preservation in the American Southwest. ProQuest. p. 25. ISBN 9780549890423. Retrieved 10 December 2012.
  16. ^ Sharpe, Tom (March 13, 2013). "Nancy Wood, 1936-2013: Writer, photographer found new 'way of being and seeing' in New Mexico". Santa Fe New Mexican. Retrieved October 9, 2016.
  17. ^ "Taos Pueblo". World Monuments Fund. Retrieved 2018-12-08.
  18. ^ Abdel Tawab, Ayman (2013-07-24). "Sustainable conservation of traditional living communities: the case of Taos Pueblo in the United States of America".


  • Bodine, John J (1996). Taos Pueblo: A Walk Through Time. Tucson: Rio Nuevo Publishers. ISBN 9781887896955.

 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Park Service.

Further reading

  • Wenger, Tisa Joy (2009). We Have a Religion: The 1920s Pueblo Indian Dance Controversy and American Religious Freedom. University of North Carolina Press. ISBN 9780807832622.

External links

Albert Looking Elk

Albert Looking Elk (c. 1888 – November 30, 1940), also known as Albert Martinez was a Taos Pueblo painter. Looking Elk is one of the three Taos Pueblo Painters.

Albert Lujan

Albert Lujan (1892–1948), also known as Xenaiua meaning "Weasel Arrow," was a genre and landscape painter from Taos Pueblo, New Mexico.

Eva Mirabal

Eva Mirabal was a Native American artist and cartoonist born in 1920 as Eah Ha Wa (which translates from the Tiwa language as 'Fast Growing Corn') in Taos Pueblo, New Mexico located near Taos, New Mexico. Her primary medium was gouache opaque watercolor.

Fred R. Harris

Fred Roy Harris (born November 13, 1930) is a former Democratic United States Senator from the state of Oklahoma.Born in Walters, Oklahoma, Harris won election to the Oklahoma Senate after graduating from the University of Oklahoma College of Law. He ousted an appointed U.S. Senate incumbent J. Howard Edmondson and won a 1964 special election to succeed Robert S. Kerr, narrowly defeating football coach Bud Wilkinson. Harris strongly supported the Great Society programs but criticized President Lyndon B. Johnson's handling of the Vietnam War. Harris won re-election in 1966 but declined to seek another term in 1972.

From 1969 to 1970, he served as Chairman of the Democratic National Committee. In the 1968 presidential election, Democratic nominee Hubert Humphrey strongly considered selecting Harris as his running mate. Harris unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972 and 1976. After 1976, he became a professor at the University of New Mexico.

Juan Mirabal

Juan Mirabal (1903 – 1981), also known as "Tapaiu" or Red Dancer, was an artist from Taos Pueblo, New Mexico.

Juanita Suazo Dubray

Juanita Suazo Dubray (born 1930) is a Native American potter from Taos Pueblo, New Mexico. She is a lifelong resident of Taos Pueblo and descends from an unbroken line of Taos Pueblo natives. Her mother Tonita made traditional micaceous pottery for utilitarian use. She became interested in the micaceous pottery tradition in 1980 after a career of working as a pharmaceutical technician.

She started making micaceous pottery at the age of 50 with the encouragement of a neighbor who gave her some clay. When she first started making pottery she made one-of-a-kind micaceous pots using different ancient designs and symbols. Eventually she began using more contemporary designs and symbols on her pots, making them out of both micaceous and white clay. She added an element of sculpture, producing many pieces with icons of corn, turtles, lizards, and kiva steps in relief. Her original corn design has become her most recognized symbol. She also often includes traditional ornamentation of rope fillets, tool-impressed rims and loop handles on her pots. Juanita has also produced sculptured objects including nativity scenes and storyteller dolls.

As a self-taught potter, Juanita has come a long way in mastering the skills of making traditional micaceous pottery, which are truly beautiful works of art. She has attended numerous shows and exhibitions including the Santa Fe Indian Market, Denver Indian Market, the San Ildefonso and San Juan Pueblo Eight Northern Indian Markets among others. In 1988 she received first place in the San Ildefonso Eight Northern Indian Market. In 1994 she was designated a Master Potter by the School of American Research and was invited to attend the school’s Micaceous Pottery Artists Convocation. She was one of ten master micaceous potters to attend. In June 2004 she also taught a workshop at the Taos Art School on making traditional Taos Pueblo micaceous pottery.

Millicent Rogers Museum

In 1956, the Millicent Rogers family founded the Millicent Rogers Museum in Taos, New Mexico. Initially the artworks were from the multi-cultural collections of Millicent Rogers and her mother, Mary B. Rogers, who donated many of the first pieces of Taos Pueblo art. In the 1980s, the museum was the first cultural organization in New Mexico to offer a comprehensive collection of Hispanic art.

Pop Wea

Pop Wea, also known as Lori Tanner (died 1966), was a Native American artist associated with the Taos Pueblo. She was a painter and potter.

Pop Wea was related to another Taos Pueblo artist, Pop Chalee. Her work titled "Taos Warrior Dance" (casein on board) is on display at the Arizona State Museum at the University of Arizona. "Spirit Horse" made about 1964 in tempera was sold for $1,100 in 2009.

Rio Pueblo de Taos

The Rio Pueblo de Taos, also known as Rio Pueblo, is a tributary of the Rio Grande in the U.S. state of New Mexico. From its source in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains it flows about 33 miles (53 km), generally south and west, to join the Rio Grande in the Rio Grande Gorge. On the way the river passes by Taos and through Taos Pueblo.

Robert Mirabal

Robert Mirabal (born October 6, 1966) is a Pueblo musician and Native American flute player and maker from Taos Pueblo, New Mexico.

His flutes are world-renowned and have been displayed at the Smithsonian Institution's Museum of the American Indian. An award-winning musician and leading proponent of world music, Mirabal performs worldwide, sharing flute songs, tribal rock, dance, and storytelling.

Mirabal was twice named the Native American Music Awards' Artist of the Year, and received the Songwriter of the Year award three times. He was featured in Grammy Award winning album, Sacred Ground: A Tribute to Mother Earth in 2006 for Best Native American Music Album

Mirabal also published a book of storytelling poetry and prose in 1994 entitled Skeletons of a Bridge and is currently writing a second book, Running Alone in Photographs. Aside from his artistic talents, Mirabal is a father and a farmer, living in Taos Pueblo and participating in the traditional ways and rituals of his people.

Siege of Pueblo de Taos

The Siege of Pueblo de Taos was the final battle during the main phase of the Taos Revolt, an insurrection against the United States during the Mexican–American War. It was also the final major engagement between American forces and insurgent forces in New Mexico during the war.

Sopris Phase

Sopris Phase (AD 1000-1250) is a Late Ceramic period hunter-gatherer culture of the Upper Purgatoire, also known as the Upper Purgatoire complex. It was first discovered in the southern Colorado, near the present town of Trinidad, Colorado. Sopris Phase appeared to be greatly influenced by Puebloan people, such as the Taos Pueblo and Pecos Pueblo, and through trade in the Upper Rio Grande area.

Taos, New Mexico

Taos is a town in Taos County in the north-central region of New Mexico in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, incorporated in 1934. As of the 2010 census, its population was 5,716. Other nearby communities include Ranchos de Taos, Cañon, Taos Canyon, Ranchitos, El Prado, and Arroyo Seco. The town is close to Taos Pueblo, the Native American village and tribe from which it takes its name.

Taos is the county seat of Taos County. The English name Taos derives from the native Taos language meaning "place of red willows".

Taos is the principal city of the Taos, NM Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Taos County.

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

Taos Pueblo is a census-designated place (CDP) in Taos County, New Mexico, in the Southwestern United States, and is located north of Taos. The population was 1,264 at the 2000 census.

Taos Pueblo (book)

Taos Pueblo is a book by Ansel Adams and Mary Hunter Austin. Originally published in 1930, it is the first book of Adams' photographs. A seminal work in his career, it marks the beginning of a transition from his earlier pictorialist style to his signature sharp-focused images of the Western landscape. Because of the quality of the images and its place in the development of Adams' style, it has been described as "an astonishingly poignant…masterpiece" and "the greatest pictorial representation of the American West."

Taos Revolt

The Taos Revolt was a popular insurrection in January 1847 by Hispano and Puebloan allies against the United States' occupation of present-day northern New Mexico during the Mexican–American War. In two short campaigns, United States troops and militia crushed the rebellion of the allied Hispanos of New Mexico and Taos Pueblo. The rebels, seeking better representation, regrouped and fought three more engagements, but after being defeated, they abandoned open warfare. While US troops were overwhelmingly victorious, it did result in the New Mexico Territory forming with proper representation and recognition for Santa Fe de Nuevo México's citizenry in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo.

Taos art colony

The Taos art colony is an art colony founded in Taos, New Mexico, by artists attracted by the rich culture of the Taos Pueblo and beautiful landscape. Hispanic craftsmanship of furniture, tin work and more played a role in creating a multicultural tradition of art work in the area.

In 1898 a visit of Bert Geer Phillips and Ernest L. Blumenschein to Taos was one of the first steps in the creation of the Taos art colony and the Taos Society of Artists. In addition to the society, Mabel Dodge Luhan was instrumental in promoting Taos to artists and writers within her circle.

In the early 20th century modern artists infused the area with a new artistic energy, followed in the 1950s by abstract artists. Taos supports more than 80 galleries and three museums. There are a number of organizations that support and promote the work of artists on the Taos Pueblo and in the Taos area.

Taos language

The Taos language of the Northern Tiwa branch of the Tanoan language family is spoken in Taos Pueblo, New Mexico.

Tomás Romero

Tomás "Tomasito" Romero, (assassinated February 8, 1848) was a Pueblo from Taos Pueblo, where he was referred to as "the alcalde." He was a leader of the Taos Revolt against the American invasion of New Mexico during the Mexican–American War. At the beginning of the revolt, "Tomacito leaned over the governor's (Charles Bent) still living form and raked a bowstring over his scalp, pulling away his gray hair in a glistening sheath ... 'cut as cleanly with the tight cord as it would have with a knife' "After the failure of the revolt Romero was given up to the U.S. Army as part of the terms of surrender following the battle at the pueblo on February 5.

He was shot while in prison by Private John Fitzgerald on February 8, "before he had the opportunity to have a trial."

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