Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten - Taos Pueblo


The Taos Pueblo, the northernmost of New Mexico's pueblos, is among the most often visited, photographed, and painted Native American villages in the country. The pueblo is unpaved, and has no electricity, running water, indoor plumbing, or phones. The Taos Indians continue to live in their ancient ways, for which they are sometimes characterized as "conservative."

In a sense however, the Taos Pueblo is a living museum, with a few necessary concessions made to time. Gas has replaced wood for cooking. Cars are prohibited -- usually. Yet the pueblo, like other museums, gets much of its income from the admittance and related fees. Many, perhaps most, residents appear to live inside the pueblo walls only part-time. Most of the Indians now living full time inside the pueblo walls, we were told, are of the grandparental generation.

Meanwhile, in Taos Reservation homes outside the Pueblo walls where many Taos Indians live, electricity, running water, TVs and the other common amenities of modern living are available. One might think of the Pueblo as a group of people taking turns living over the store.

The Taos Pueblo is a United Nations World Heritage Site


Taos Pueblo - A Living Museum
Taos, New Mexico

The pueblo entrance is in the very bottom left corner of the map. The North House is in the upper right corner, and running from bottom left center to the middle of the right side is the Red Willow Creek.

>> Click for large map <<



September 17, 1999

Taos Pueblo Entrance

Welcome to

1000 Years of Tradition
Summer Hours 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Taos Pueblo is one of the oldest condominium complexes in continual use in the country. The present buildings were erected around 1350, although the tribe settle the valley 1000 years ago.


St. Jerome's Chapel

This well recognized Catholic mission church was built in 1850 to replace the earlier San Geronimo Church and is named for the Patron Saint of the Taos Pueblo.

Of special interest are the hand carved vigas and the choir loft. Also of note are the Santos which were brought by early Spanish missionaries.

St. Jerome's Chapel is a National Historic Landmark,


September 17, 1999


September 17, 1999

North House (Hlauuma)

The eastern wing of the North House goes from one to five stories. Each door is to a different, privately owned home. They are passed from one generation to the next.

The buildings are made of adobe, a sun-dried mix of mud and straw, and must be repaired every six months or so. Each family is responsible for its unit. While we were there, it seemed that just about every building was being repaired.


A Middle Unit of North House

In the foreground of the plaza area are racks that are used seasonally to dry corn, meats, fruits and chile. They are also used for shade by food vendors.

The seated woman with the red blouse is one of many natives who earn at least part of the family income by selling home made bread to tourists.

I bought a loaf with the idea of having it for breakfast since the Taos Inn where we were staying served only coffee in the morning. I did try a slice.


September 17, 1999


September 17, 1999

One Happy Necklace Owner

I was very please to show off the turquoise necklace I'd bought and to pose for this picture with the artisan who created it, Edith Lujan. This was the first piece of turquoise jewelry I'd ever bought.

Like many Taos Indian wives, Edith Lujan supplements her family income. She creates lovely turquoise jewelry which she sells to tourists.


Edith Lujan

Ms. Lujan is an artisan and a business woman. In addition to selling her own jewelry from this stand in the patio at the front of her home in the western side of the Hlauuma, she sells jewelry and bread (on the table by my left hand) made by other Taos wives.

I like the open vigas or beams overhead which are so typical of Southwestern architecture. Behind me is the doorway to her home.


September 17, 1999


September 17, 1999

Red Willow Creek

Called the Taos River by the state and Red Willow Creek by the Indians who live there, this stream which arises in their sacred Blue Lake, high in the mountains behind the pueblo, is the pueblo's source of water. The tribe traces its origins back to Blue Lake

Red Willow Creek supplies drinking water as well as water for live stock and irrigation. According to our guide, no one ever gets sick from it.


Two Communal Ovens

On each side of the lane or alley is a mound. These are hornos or ovens, and they are used for baking bread. Fires are built inside and when the oven has reach the desired temperature the fire is extinguished. The oven is then brushed clean and bread is put in on a tray and allowed to bake in the heated chamber.

What appears to be flaps or doors on the front with a rock at the bottom is just a board to keep out dogs.


September 17, 1999


September 17, 1999

Pathway to a Kiva

While nominally Catholic, Taos Indians maintain strong ties with their traditional faith. Just as churches are associated with Catholicism, kivas are associated with traditional Pueblo Indian religious practice.

Many traditional religious rituals take place in kivas, which are circular semi-underground ceremonial rooms. At the Taos Pueblo, entrance is from the roof by way of a ladder.


Cemetery at the Ruins of
Old San Geronimo (Jerome) Church

Built in 1619, this mission church was destroyed in the Great Pueblo Revolt in 1680 and rebuilt in 1706. During the Mexican American War, the U.S. Army bombarded it again leaving only the bell tower standing.

It has since been a cemetery which is now filled. Taos Indians are buried according to their traditional religious practice, with the addition of a Christian cross.


September 17, 1999


Email: Elizabeth Anne VanderPutten