The ancient roots of our Southwest United States landscape beckoned my family to journey to the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico and discover its ancestral heritage. United by a love for a vast blue sky, the open line of the western horizon, and the majestic Sangre de Cristo mountians, we felt a reverent connection to the Red Willow tribe that calls Taos Pueblo home.
Inspired by cultures that unify community needs of architecture, food, water, spirituality, art and music, our family of artists seeks out and desires to discover examples of societies that established sustainable environments. Taos Pueblo is thought to be one of the oldest continually habited communities in the United States, with archaeological findings dating to 1000 AD. Nestled at the base of the Sangre de Cristo mountain range, the horizontal design of the warm adobe architecture exquisitely integrates human structure with the natural landscape. Far removed from urban noise, there is a tenacious quiet in the atmosphere: the hum of a lone truck engine, the clack of a shovel, or the rusty squeak of a door hinge; reflecting the persistent work going on inside the small homes and amid rustic grounds of the pueblo.
Quick to dry in the warm New Mexican sun, primitive roads and walkways are soft underfoot, and clean-swept paths connect the buildings throughout Taos Pueblo. Completed in 1850, the pristine white arches and crosses of San Geronimo Chapel make a spectacular contrast against the smooth sun-bronzed adobe and cerulean sky. Named after St. Jerome, the chapel offers a beautiful interior space filled with religious folk art indicative of the American Southwest, and reflects the remarkable harmonious integration of Catholicism and the native Pueblo religion.
Have you ever had Native American fry bread? As a child growing up in New Mexico, I thought it was an American staple. Unfortunately, it remains a regional cuisine, but it is transcendent. Warm, gooey, chewy, and topped with sweet sugars or savory pinto beans, it will delight your senses. Find it fresh from a local kitchen on pueblo grounds? Now you're talking! Ordering up a warm plateful of fry bread is a wonderful way to meet local residents of Taos Pueblo, who warmly welcome you and kindly share the beauty of their home and culture.
Walking throughout Taos Pueblo, you will find small art and curio shops inhabited by friendly residents, often stoking a warm pinon wood fire to warm you by their hearth. Proud of their beautiful handwork and native craft traditions, the members of the tribe are eager to share the meaning behind their work, and explain the source of the materials they use. My son brought home a wonderful hand drum carved from a log, covered with stretched hide, and accompanied by a traditional suede and stick beater. Using no additional paints, dyes or coloring, this drum is an example of the trademark natural look that is frequently used in Taos Pueblo art and craft.
Stunning architecture, a legacy of ancient heritage, sweeping mountain views, exquisitely crafted art, and authentic delicious eats all make the Taos Pueblo an unforgettable destination. Visiting venerable sites which document how ancestral communities incorporated natural architecture, ancient spiritual and art traditions, and reverence for the resources of the landscape, cultivates a modern appreciation and respect for historic native cultures. These enriching travels remind us of the artful beauty that can be found when we venture outside of the scurried pace of contemporary existence to discover a life more authentically lived.