On our last morning in Taos, before making our drive back to Albuquerque, we visited the Taos Pueblo. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the adobe walls of Taos Pueblo have been continuously inhabited for nearly 1000 years. Native American customs allow no electricity or running water in the main pueblo houses and about 100 people still live in them full-time. Tours are provided at the pueblo by Taos Native American college students currently studying Native American history. Our tour guide was visibly moved in her retelling of Taos history as it related to Spanish explorers and the U.S. government. The church at Taos Pueblo, the Church of San Geronimo, was built in 1850 to replace one destroyed by the U.S. government in 1847 during the Mexican War. We visited the site of the old church, now just a foundation and crumbling walls with a graveyard of crosses and headstones stacked on top of each other, and I couldn’t help but cry as our young tour guide described women and children seeking refuge in the church as U.S. soldiers sent cannon shells inside its walls. Historians tell of 150 Mexican and Indian rebels hiding in the church after leading a rebellion and killing the governor and many other officials. Nonetheless, I could feel the pain on the old site of the church and chose not to photograph the impactful field of stacked crosses in front of the ruins of the church.
Taos Pueblo was pretty quiet on the morning of our visit, we were among just a few visitors. The setting and buildings of the Taos Pueblo were quite stunning, yet the familiar sense of poverty that we’d seen in the many pueblos we had passed through on this trip pervaded. On the flip side, there is also a sense that history, tradition, and community are more important that the materialism that pervades most of American culture. Every pueblo also seemed to have a pack of wild dogs roaming the lands. The dogs mostly ignored people, playing—and sometimes fighting—amongst themselves. But at Taos Pueblo one group of puppies took a liking to Jack and Ella—it was cute until one jumped up and grabbed Ella’s scarf in its mouth (see photos below). After that it felt like time to move on. We drove the Low Road away from Taos towards Santa Fe and then the main highway from Santa Fe to Albuquerque with a few detours along the way.