According to archaeologists, ancestors of the Taos Indians have lived in the valley where Taos Pueblo resides long before the time of Christopher Columbus, and hundreds of years before the Dark Ages ended in Europe. The ancient ruins within the Taos Valley reveal that the Native American tribe lived in the valley almost one thousand years ago. The main section of the buildings that exist today were built most likely between 1000 AD and 1450 AD.
The structures appeared back then much as they still look today. When the first Spanish explorers came to this area of New Mexico back in 1540, they believe the Taos Pueblo was one of the golden cities of Cibola from stories. The two main structures called Hlaukwima, or south house, and Hlauuma, or north house, are considered to be of about the same age. They are also thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the country.
Tour of Taos Pueblo are offered throughout the year. These tours occur starting at 9:0am on the hour, every twenty minutes. While it's not necessary to explore the Pueblo during a tour, it's highly recommended. The tours are about twenty to thirty minutes in duration, and highlight the people, history, and culture of Taos Pueblo. Guides take visitors to significant area of the village. These tours are gratuity based, meaning visitors have the option of tipping their guides. Some of the tour guides are also students in college who greatly appreciate whatever visitors are willing to give. Larger group tours and private tours of the Pueblo are also available with advanced notice.
The buildings in Taos Pueblo are made completely out of adobe, which is earth mixed with straw and water that is then made into sun-dried bricks or poured into forms. The walls of these adobe structures are often several feet thick. Each roof is supported by vigas, or large timbers, that are found in the mountain forests. Aspen or pine latillas, or smaller pieces of wood, are placed on top of the vigas. Packed dirt is then used to cover the entire roof.
The outside walls of the buildings are constantly maintained by replastering them with thick layers of mud. Interior walls of the adobe structures are coated with white earth so they look bright and clean. The Pueblo consists of several individual homes that are constructed in layers, side-by-side, with common walls. However, there no connecting doorways.
Around one hundred and fifty people live full time within Taos Pueblo. Other families who own homes in the South or North building have homes out near the fields in which they occupy during the summer, or in modern houses outside of the Pueblo's old walls but still on Pueblo land. More than 1,900 Taos Indians live on the lands of Taos Pueblo.
The most dramatic event of Taos Pueblo land in recent history was the return of forty-eight thousand acres of land that includes the sacred Blue Lake. The land was taken from the Taos Indians in 1906 by the United States government to become part of National Forest lands. Blue Lake is possibly the most important of all the ritual sites of the Taos people.
20 Veterans Highway, Taos, New Mexico, website, Phone: 575-758-1028
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