Part Six: Taos Pueblo
In the afternoon, we walked to Taos Pueblo. When we entered the Taos Nation land, we were welcomed by the head Fiscale who is in charge of religious matters. The Taos Nation provided an escort of tribal police in trucks and a young man walked at the head of our group with a processional cross. When we arrived at Taos Pueblo proper, we entered San Geronimo Church and prayed for a time. After the original church was destroyed by the American army during the Taos revolt, the new church was built in the 1850s. I noticed that the ruins of the old church are still visible but I did not take a photo of it. The inside of the church is amazingly beautiful. As it is a UNESCO site, there is no electricity. Instead, there are gaslights hanging from the roof. (When was the last time you saw a gaslight? )
We walked through the town to our lodging in the school. (Our pilgrim group was amazingly privileged to be allowed to stay on the land of the Taos Nation. Normally this is not allowed.) The Taos people govern themselves. The police and government officials that we interacted with were not New Mexican authorities but Taos Nation Authorities. They elect their own governor and regulate access to their land. it was very much like visiting a different country.
The Taos people provided us with an amazing meal of traditional food. This was the best food we ate during our time in New Mexico. We spent the night in the school gym. You can see my bed beneath the Great Seal of Taos Pueblo! In the morning, our wonderful hosts provided us with another excellent meal. Then we gathered our gear to leave the Place of Red Willows.
Before leaving, we gathered in front of the church and took several group photos. (Normally you need a permit to take photos but this was waived for us because we were pilgrims. Being a pilgrim has its perks!) We were also invited to take photos of the thousand-year-old pueblo. It was a very amazing experience. Standing there with our long morning shadows stretching away, we could see a modern pickup truck, a church from 1850, the ruins of a church from 1726, the thousand-year-old pueblo, and the ancient mountains in the background.
On our way out of the pueblo, we again were escorted by two pickup trucks across the rolling sagebrush fields to the edge of the land. At the edge of the land, our hosts prayed with us and wished us good luck before we headed north towards Arroyo Hondo.