notes from the field on photography, travel and hiking by James Evangelista
TIMELESS TAOS PUEBLO
It’s the land of the enchanted mesa, of crackling cedar logs
in kiva fireplaces, of clouds billowing in across the plain, of the smoke of
house fires from the pueblo rooftops. Surrounded by the pine-lined Sangre de
Cristo Mountains, the 95,000-acre Taos Pueblo is said to be the oldest
continuously inhabited community in the United States. For over 1,000 years the
Tiwa Pueblo people have called this land home. The tribe traces its origins to
the sacred Blue Lake, high in the mountains above the Pueblo.
For the Indians of Taos Pueblo, life has been a continuing
struggle against external forces which have come into Taos. Taos Pueblo was
agrarian, and was raided by nomadic Indians such as the Navajos and Apaches.
Later, Spanish Conquistadores and settlers, French traders and trappers, and
finally, American settlers exerted their influence on the tribe. The people of
Taos Pueblo have miraculously survived all outside influences and have still
retained their individuality. They live without electricity or running water,
performing the same tasks in the same manner as their ancestors have for the
more than 1000 years of the Pueblo's existence. Men herd sheep and women remove
loaves of flat bread from open hearths. The Indians of Taos Pueblo remain keenly
independent of spirit and mind. They continue to speak Tiwa, which is still an
unwritten language, and strive to maintain a balance between their traditional
way of life and the modern world.
If you go - Visitors are welcome to the Pueblo, located in
the shadow of the sacred mountain, but they must observe its rules and respect
the customs of the native people.