Taos Pueblo

Taos Pueblo is not just a historic site but home to many traditions.

Known as the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States, the main areas of the present Taos Pueblo were most likely constructed between 1000 and 1450 AD. The pueblo is designated a Unesco World Heritage Site along with other historic places like Macchu Picchu, Stonehenge, Easter Island, Rome, Venice and the Taj Mahal. It is also designated a National Historic Landmark. It is the only living Native American community to hold both designations. Some of those who call Taos Pueblo and its over 111,000 acres of land home are artisans and create beautiful things or handcraft products like soaps and home goods. 

Indian Hills drum group out of Barstow, California, pounds out a rhythm during the Grand Entry at the 2019 Taos Pueblo Powwow. Rick Romancito/Taos News

In 2020, the pueblo was closed to visitors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Though not public events, the people of Taos Pueblo still manage to find ways to celebrate their cultural heritage and preserve ancient traditions. These rituals and customs have been observed for more than 1,000 years without interruption and through wars, famines, pandemics and other major historic occurrences. Before the pandemic, the pueblo regularly welcomed guests and visitors to join their families for Feast Days and ceremonial dances.

File Photo

Feast Days and native dances are vital for preserving the Pueblo cultural heritage. When the pueblo reopens, visitors and guests must be invited into a home to visit and/or share a Feast Day meal. After a dance ends, it is disrespectful to applaud because these are not performances — the dances are ceremonial and being asked to attend and witness these dances is a great honor. Visitors should refrain from talking to community members about the meaning of the dance and should not speak to the dancers. During religious ceremonies, cameras and cellphones are not allowed and can be confiscated (and not returned) if this rule is violated.  

Taos Pueblo rules and regulations

The Red Willow River that flows from sacred Blue Lake to the Río Grande is the pueblo’s main source of drinking water. So please don’t walk in it. Blue Lake mountain areas and lands outside Pueblo walls are off-limits to visitors. Photography at non-Feast Day events are for personal use only. Any other commercial, documentary, educational use or artist renderings must have prior approval (inquire with the tourism office).

No photography, cellphone use or recording devices permitted during Feast Days out of respect and to prevent exploitation. On non-Feast Days, ask permission before taking a picture of any Taos Pueblo member.

Rick Romancito

Because families still reside in the original structure, there are privacy issues. Only doors clearly marked as a business may be entered. The pueblo has been a major place of trade for centuries, which is still evident by the various businesses on and around the main pueblo plaza. Most shops accept credit cards and all goods are tax-free. Any areas and pathways that are off-limits to visitors are clearly marked. Other rules state pets must be leashed, and climbing on ladders or buildings is strictly prohibited. 

For updated information on the Pueblo’s status, call the tourism office at 575-758-1028 or visit taospueblo.com.