Sunday, August 14, 2011

On (with) Reservation

I have debated how to write about our visit to the Taos Pueblo. As someone of Anglo descent, I probably have no place talking about Indian affairs. I should probably keep my mouth shut and just talk about what a fascinating and educational visit it was. Unfortunately, this goes against my nature.

After many visits to Taos, we finally went over to the Pueblo to check it out for ourselves. A few visits ago we met a young man from the Pueblo attending the same wedding as us. In conversation, he told me if I every come back, to look him up and he would show us the "real Reservation life". He promised to take us to parts that very few Anglos were allowed. Unfortunately, Christopher has taken a job working in the gas drilling business out of state. He lined us up with a young lady that would show us around. Turns out she showed us the same three spots all the tour guides show the tourists. We saw the North Plaza above.

We saw the cemetery. This is said to be the spot where Federal troops bombed the church which was filled full of women and children. Some Pueblo inhabitants killed Charles Bent, governor of Taos and went there to hide. The Pueblo filled the church with human shields and in this game of Mexican Standoff, the Pueblo people lost. Since then, the church has only been used as a graveyard.

There is no electric or running water in the old part of the Pueblo. The houses are used only during feast days and important celebrations. Each family has their house for these times of use. Many families seem to have shops open during all the other days of the year. Cold coke, turquoise jewelry, silver jewelry, blankets, and all the usual indian tourist junk was for sale.

Many of the buildings are very picturesque. There is a great deal of restoration going on all over the old section.

Just about all the buildings are in very good shape for 1000 years old. However besides a few photo opportunities, there is not much to see. There is not much going on either.

All the buildings are closed off to the general public. All over the place there were signs saying "restricted area, no entry". For $40 for the family with the camera, I kind of expected to see a little something besides the outside of the Pueblo and the inside of tourist shop. Maybe if Christopher had been around to show us, it might had been different.

Somewhere half way through the tour, I realized we could have just looked at the photos on Google. I learned more about the Pueblo via Wiki than I did on our rather expensive 20 minute tour. The continuous line of cars pouring in must bring in a rather large amount of money each day. The casino at the entrance of the Reservation looks to be doing a swift business also. My impression of reservation life has always been of server hardship and poverty. I guess the Lakota should build themselves a Pueblo and offer up daily tours to the tourist like us. They too could have a captive audience.

1 comment:

Sue and Spike said...

Frank, I always enjoy postings about Taos, I use to live there and still go there a couple of times a year. To my knowledge the Taos pueblo is not a reservation and does not receive money from the government in the way reservations do, thus the fees. Some places are simply worth it and I believe the Taos Pueblo is one of those places. Glad you were able to visit it.
Did you visit any galleries while in Taos?