History of Taos, New Mexico
The Taos Pueblo, that borders the town of Taos on its north side, has been occupied for nearly a millennium. It is estimated that the pueblo was built between 1000 and 1450 A.D., with some later expansion, and is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States.
Located in a tributary valley off the Rio Grande, it is the most northern of the New Mexico pueblos. The Pueblo, at some places five stories high, is a combination of many individual homes with common walls. There are over 1,900 people in the Taos pueblo community. Some of them have modern homes near their fields and stay at their homes on the pueblo during cooler weather. There are about 150 people who live at the pueblo year-around. The Taos Pueblo was added as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 as one of the most significant historical cultural landmarks in the world; other sites include the Taj Mahal, Great Pyramids and the Grand Canyon in the United States.
Taos was established c. 1615 as Fernandez de Taos, following the Spanish conquest of the Indian Pueblo villages. Initially, relations of the Spanish settlers with Taos Pueblo were amicable, but resentment of meddling by missionaries, and demands by encomenderos for tribute, led to a revolt in 1640; Taos Indians killed their priest and a number of Spanish settlers, and fled the pueblo, not returning until 1661.
In 1680, Taos Pueblo joined the widespread Pueblo Revolt. After the Spanish Reconquest of 1692, Taos Pueblo continued armed resistance to the Spanish until 1696, when Governor Diego de Vargas defeated the Indians at Taos Canyon.
During the 1770s, Taos was repeatedly raided by Comanches who lived on the plains of what is now eastern Colorado. Juan Bautista de Anza, governor of the Province of New Mexico, led a successful punitive expedition in 1779 against the Comanches.
U.S. Territory and Statehood
Mexico ceded the region to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 after the Mexican-American War. After the U.S. takeover of New Mexico in 1847, Hispanics and American Indians in Taos staged a rebellion, known as the Taos Revolt, in which the newly appointed U.S. Governor, Charles Bent, was killed. New Mexico was a territory of the United States beginning 1850 and became a state in 1912.
For historical reasons, Taos Plaza is one of the few places in the country where the American flag may properly be displayed continuously (both day and night). This derives from the time of the American Civil War, when Confederate sympathizers in the area attempted to remove the flag. The Union officer Kit Carson sought to discourage this activity by having guards surround the area and fly the flag 24 hours a day.
"The Padre of Isleta", Anton Docher first served as a priest in Taos before leaving for Isleta in 1891.
Taos Art Colony
Beginning in 1899, artists began to settle in Taos; six formed the Taos Society of Artists in 1915. In time, the Taos art colony developed. Many paintings were made of local scenes, especially of Taos Pueblo and activities there, as the artists often modeled Native Americans from the pueblo in their paintings. Some of the artists' studios have been preserved and may be viewed by visitors to Taos. These include the Ernest L. Blumenschein House, the Couse/Sharp Historic Site, and the Nicolai Fechin house, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Influential later 20th-century Taos artists include R. C. Gorman and Agnes Martin.
History of the Taos Pueblo
Taos Pueblo (or Pueblo de Taos) is an ancient pueblo belonging to a Taos (Northern Tiwa) speaking Native American tribe of Pueblo people. It is approximately 1000 years old and lies about 1-mile (1.6 km) north of the modern city of Taos, New Mexico, USA. The Red Willow Creek, or Rio Pueblo de Taos (also called Rio Pueblo), is a small stream that flows through the middle of the pueblo from its source in the Sangre de Cristo Range. A reservation of 95,000 acres (380 km2) is attached to the pueblo, and about 1,900 people live in this area.
Taos Pueblo is a member of the Eight Northern Pueblos. The Taos community is known for being one of the most secretive and conservative pueblos.
Taos Pueblo's most prominent architectural feature is a multi-storied residential complex of reddish-brown adobe divided into two parts by the Rio Pueblo. According to the Pueblo's Web site, it was probably built between 1000 and 1450 A.D. It was designated a National Historic Landmark on October 9, 1960, and in 1992 became a World Heritage Site. As of 2006, about 150 people live in it full-time.
In the Taos language, the pueblo is referred to as "the village" in either tə̂otho "in the village" (tə̂o- "village" + -tho "in") or tə̂obo "to/toward the village" (tə̂o- "village" + -bo "to, toward"). The proper name of the pueblo is ȉałopháymųp’ȍhə́othə̀olbo "at red willow canyon mouth" (or ȉałopháybo "at the red willows" for short); however, this name is more commonly used in ceremonial contexts and is less common in everyday speech.
The name Taos in English was borrowed from Spanish Taos. Spanish Taos is probably a borrowing of Taos tə̂o- "village" which was heard as tao to which the plural -s was added although in the modern language Taos is no longer a plural noun. The idea that Spanish Taos is from tao "cross of the order of San Juan de los Cabelleros" (from Greek tau) is unlikely.
Prehistory and history
Most archeologists believe that the Taos Indians along with other Pueblo Indians settled along the Rio Grande migrated from the Four Corners region. The dwellings of that region were inhabited by the Anasazi, and a long drought in the area in the late 13th century may have caused them to move to the Rio Grande where the water supply was more dependable.
The history of Taos Pueblo includes the plotting of the Pueblo Revolt in 1680, a siege by U.S. forces in 1847, and the return by President Nixon in 1970 of the Pueblo's 48,000 acres (190 km2) of mountain land taken by President Theodore Roosevelt and designated as the Carson National Forest early in the 20th century. Blue Lake, which the people of the Pueblo traditionally consider sacred, was included in this return of Taos land. The Pueblo's web site names the acquisition of the sacred Blue Lake as the most important event in its history due to the spiritual belief that the Taos natives originated from the lake itself. An additional 764 acres (3.09 km2) south of the ridge between Simpson Peak and Old Mike Peak and west of Blue Lake were transferred back to the Pueblo in 1996.
"The Padre of Isleta", Anton Docher first served as a priest in Taos before his long time spent in Isleta.
The North-Side Pueblo is said to be one of the most photographed and painted buildings in the Western Hemisphere. It is the largest multistoried Pueblo structure still existing. It is made of adobe walls that are often several feet thick. Its primary purpose was for defense. Up to as late as 1900, access to the rooms on lower floors was by ladders on the outside to the roof, and then down an inside ladder. In case of an attack, outside ladders could easily be pulled up.
The homes in this structure usually consist of two rooms, one of which is for general living and sleeping, and the second of which is for cooking, eating, and storage. Each home is self-contained; there are no passageways between the houses. Taos Indians made little use of furniture in the past, but today they have tables, chairs, and beds. In the Pueblo, electricity, running water, and indoor plumbing are prohibited.
The pueblo wall completely encloses the village except at the entrance as a symbol of the village boundaries. Now rather short, the wall used to be much taller for protection against surrounding tribes. The river running through the pueblo serves as the primary source for drinking and cooking water for the residents of the village. In the winter, the river never completely freezes although it does form a heavy layer of ice. Because the river moves so swiftly, the ice can be broken to obtain the fresh water beneath.
Three religions are represented in the Pueblo: Christianity, the aboriginal religion, and the Native American Church. Eighty percent of the Taos Pueblo community is baptized; however, only twenty percent are practicing Roman Catholics. The majority of Taos Indians practice their still-vital, ancient indigenous religion (Taos Pueblo Public Tour; 30 July 2010). Saint Jerome, or San Geronimo, is the patron saint of the pueblo.
The deep feeling of belonging to a community, summed up in their phrase, “we are in one nest,” has held the Taos people together. Both men and women are expected to offer their services or “community duties,” when needed. One should be cooperative and never allow their own desires to be destructive of the community’s interest. One of Taos’s strongest institutions is the family. Descent on both the father and the mother’s side of the family is equally recognized. Each primary family lives in a separate dwelling so when a couple gets married, they move to their own home. With relatives so near by, everyone is available to help care for the children. The elderly teach the young the values and traditions that have been handed down, which protect the integrity of the Taos culture.
In the dark and mysterious underworld, the womb of the earth itself, the people and animals live with their kind and loving mother. To the north, near the sand, there is a lake where the first people climb the great fir tree and emerge to populate the earth. With them come good and bad spirits who can dwell in everything, rocks, trees, animals, plants and people.
The Rio Grande River—at least the section that runs through northern New Mexico—is not a typical river that has carved out its own valley. Rather, the valley appeared first and the river followed. This "rift valley" is a separation in the earth's crust caused by faulting and other earth movements when the North American and Pacific plates scraped against each other some twenty-nine million years ago.
Early people roam the area, hunting large mammals, such as mammoth, and gathering wild foods for subsistence. They live in the open, sleeping in crude shelters, or in overhanging caves.
Local people begin to adopt the idea of agriculture from neighbors in Mexico. Farming, even on a small scale, begins to restrict their movements to smaller areas where they can harvest what had been planted, thus leading to more elaborate shelter, and the development of communities and cultural differences.
Pottery, pit houses for year round living, and village life with ceremonial structures begin to make their appearance.
Great multi-storied pueblos are first constructed. Not long after this time, pueblos appear in the Taos Valley.
Athabascan people (now called Apaches and Navajos) from the north and east begin to visit and settle in areas nearby to the Taos area.
The Taos Pueblo structures were probably built between A.D. 1300 and 1450. Some "experts" place the date at 1350 when the Pot Creek Pueblo became abandoned and some of the inhabitants apparently moved to Picuris Pueblo and others moved to the Taos Pueblo.
At the end of August of this year, Hernando de Alvarado, captain of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado's artillery, is sent from Hawikuh to explore to the north and east. Leading a detachment of twenty soldiers, and accompanied by the chaplain, Fray Juan de Padilla, Alvarado travels east past the great rock of Acoma. Upon reaching the great river, which he calls Río de Nuestra Señora, they are visited by twelve representatives of pueblos to the north with friendly greetings, so Alvarado and his soldiers travel that direction, going from town to town. Upon reaching an impassable canyon, they climb to a high plain, and on the edge come to a large pueblo divided in two parts by a river. He understands it to be called Braba. From there they travel to the east to see the plains after sending a report about the pueblos to the General.
In September, a solemn event is celebrated in the temporary church that had been built by Don Juan de Oñate's colonists at San Gabriel. The governor asks the chiefs of the Indian provinces if, in order to receive benefits of military protection and the guidance of the missionaries. They would swear allegiance to the crown. The Indians agree, and after the papers are drawn up, each Indian leader signs "amid great rejoicings". Fray Alonzo Martinez asks if they would be saved. After deliberation, the response is, that if, after instruction, they liked what they learned, they would follow the teaching, but if they did not like it, it would not do to be forced to accept something they did not understand. Thereupon, Fray Alonzo rededicated each of the Franciscans to their calling, and assigned each to go alone with the Indians to a pueblo. Fray Francisco de Zamora is given the northernmost pueblos, Picurís and Taos.
The difficulties of the colonists and their complaints cause Oñate to fall into disfavor, and he is replaced by Pedro de Peralta as governor. One charge against Oñate is that he killed a young Taos leader by hurling him from a roof.
1610 - 1617
Fray Francisco de Zamora was based at the Taos Pueblo to spread the Catholic faith in the Taos Valley. The first mission church was founded around 1610-12 or 1617 and became known as Mission de San Geronomio.
Resentments over the attempts by religious authorities to quash native rites, and the demands by encomenderos for tribute cause hostility from the Taos Pueblo and culminate in this year when the Indians kill their priest, Fray Pedro de Miranda, and other Spanish people in the vicinity and flee northeastward to the Cuartelejo Apache villages.
Taos people return reluctantly to their pueblo at the urging of Governor López de Mendizábal amid charges and countercharges between the governor and religious authorities regarding the troubled relationship with the Indians.
All of the Pueblos, skillfully organized by Popé, a native of San Juan Pueblo who had been hiding at Taos, rise in revolt on August 10. At Taos, some seventy settlers, as well as the priests, Antonio de Mora and Juan de la Pedrosa are killed. Don Fernando Durán y Chávez and his son Cristóbal, who have a hacienda nearby, escape to Santa Fé. Two other landowners, Sebastián de Herrera and Diego Lucero de Godoy who are away at the time also escape, but lose their families in the massacre. The combined Pueblo forces drove the Spanish out of New Mexico until 1692.
Don Diego De Vargas completed the Re-Conquista of NM with the last phase being completed in 1696 when De Vargas persuaded the Taos Pueblo Indians to drop their arms and come back out of the mountains.
In June of this year, Governor Juan Ignacio Flores de Mogollón revalidates a grant made previously a soldier, Cristóbal de la Serna, who had been unable to take posession previously in 1710 because of his military service. The cacique, governor and lieutenant governor of the pueblo of Taos are summoned by Alcalde Juan de la Mora Piñeda, and make no objection to the act of possession by Serna.
The Diego Lucero de Godoy Landgrant was granted to Antonio Martinez and became the Martinez Grant.
The Spanish government forbids trade with the French, and limits trade with the Plains Indians only to Taos and Pecos, thereby giving rise to the annual summer trade fairs at those locations where Comanches, Kiowas and others come in great numbers to trade captives for horses, grain and trade goods from Chihuahua.
In late summer, three thousand Comanches descend on the Taos Valley, intent on destroying the Pueblo, and carry away 56 women and children. By legend, one of these is María Rosa de Villalpando, beautiful daughter of a settler, who, in order to gain the friendship of the Indians had promised her as a child to one of the chiefs in marriage. Now older, she refuses the chief, thus precipitating the raid. According to Josiah Gregg, she lives for some years among the Comanches, is bartered to the Pawnee, from whom she is purchased by a Frenchman of St. Louis, and lives to a ripe old age with many descendants there.
At the time of the American Declaration of Independence according to the census taken by Father Dominguez, the Taos Valley area contained 67 families with 306 Spaniards. The Ranchos de Taos area was the most populated at that time.
By this year, Spanish settlers who had been living within and close to the Taos Pueblo for protection from raiding Indians have moved to the location of the present town of Taos. In the following year, Governor Fernando Chacón approves a grant there, and Alcalde António José Ortíz places 63 families in possession of the Don Fernando de Taos grant. The boundary of this grant overlaps with land granted earlier to the pueblo, as well as the Serna Grant.
Don Severino Martinez Family including Padre Jose Antonio Martinez moved to Taos and the Martinez Hacienda was built in 1804 in a fortress-style architecture.
The Taos Tax Revolt occurred when 280 Spanish subjects living in Taos were jailed for protesting the heavy-handed method the Alcalde Mayor, Pedro Martin presented the new 5% tax. The complaint was presented to the New Mexico Governor Alberto Maynez who addressed the grievance by accepting the citizen's oath of loyalty to the Spanish Crown. The Alcalde Moyor Pedro Martin resigned and was replaced.
Mexican Independence from Spain was hardly noticed in Taos but the trickle of newcomers from the East became a floodtide after the opening of the Santa Fe Trail.
Padre António José Martínez, newly ordained, is assigned to the parish of Guadalupe at Taos. This same year, a sixteen-year-old runaway apprentice named Christopher Carson arrives in Taos from Missouri with a group of traders led by Cerán St. Vrain.
Padre Martinez who then published the first newspaper "El Crepusculo" which is the predecessor to The Taos News brought the first printing press west of the Mississippi River to Taos. The first book published in New Mexico was published for the school.
Padre Martínez, after giving him instruction, baptizes Kit Carson as a Catholic so he can become engaged to marry Josefa Jaramillo. Kit and Josefita are married in the following year.
Col. Stephen W. Kearney with his "Army of the West" occupied New Mexico for the U.S. and Charles Bent of Taos was appointed as the first American Governor of N.M.
Taos Pueblo Indians and firebrand Hispano nationalists revolted against the U.S. occupation and land-grant land losses. Governor Bent was murdered and Captain Burguin died in final assault on the Pueblo Church where the resistors took refuge. After a Kangaroo Court, several vanquished rebels or patriots convicted of treason against the U.S., were then sentenced and hung at the Taos Plaza.
The Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo was signed ending the Mexican/American War ceding Taos and the Southwest to the U.S. and making all non-Indian inhabitants who did not leave within one-year citizens of the U.S.
Early this year, a hot and bitter struggle in Congress over Texas, New Mexico, Utah and California reaches dangerous heights, but by September a bill is agreed to which admits California as a free state, establishes the boundary between Texas and New Mexico, and admits New Mexico and Utah as territories with the right to hold slaves left open. A great conflict over slavery is averted temporarily. In the following year, the New Mexico territorial government is organized and in the first legislative assembly, among other acts, Taos County is established to include "all the territory north of the line running west from Tetilla de la Petaca to the California line; and southeast from the Petaca through Embudo, Rincones, and Las Trampas to the junction of the Mora and Sapello Rivers and thence due east to the Texas line."
The Ceran St. Vrain Taos Gris Mill established on the Rio Grande del Ranchos, 3 miles upstream from the Ranchos de Taos Plaza. Flour from this mill was to supply the growing needs of the new US military presence.
Battle of Cieneguilla - The First Dragoons from Ft. Burgwin commenced an unauthorized attack on the Jicarilla Apache village near Dixon. The Apaches losing 24 men defeated the solider.
For a few months, a privately owned pony express between Denver and Santa Fé traverses the old Taos trail.
Civil War battles occurred in New Mexico at Valverde and Glorieta.
"The Long Trail" - 8,000 Navajos and 500 Mescalero Apache who had surrendered to Col. Kit Carson were marched 300 miles from Arizona across Northern New Mexico to be held at the Bosque Redondo on the Pecos River. 3,000 of these prisoners died due to starvation and disease.
The Río del Norte and Santa Fé Railroad are incorporated in Taos. The proposed line is projected from Costilla through Taos and on to Santa Fe, but is never surveyed. Later attempts to bring rail service to Taos also fail and Taos remains somewhat isolated today, distant from many of the stresses of development.
The first American artist, Ernest Blumenschien and Bert Phillips arrive in Taos when their wagon wheel broke. They liked it and stayed, later to establish an Artist Colony.
New Mexico became the 47th state.
Bert Philips, Ernest Blumenschein, Oscar Berninghaus, Joseph Sharp, E. Irving Couse and Herbert Dunton formed Taos Society of Artists. It was disbanded in 1927.
Town of Ta
os was incorporated.
Taos Ski Valley (TSV) was started.
Taos Gorge Bridge was completed. (US 64)
The New Buffalo commune was founded in Arroyo Hondo. It was a Mecca for the Hippie movement and was duplicated for the Easy Rider movie set. This and other communes in the surrounding area is where the young Counter Culture dreamed of building a better world.
The U.S. government returns sacred Blue Lake to Taos Pueblo in a landmark decision.
On the 4th of July The Encebado Fire was ignited by lightening within a mile of the historic Taos Pueblo Buildings. It took more than a thousand fire fighters 13 days to contain the 5,400-acre blaze. Fortunately there was no loss of life or structures but the Rio Pueblo watershed and the sacred pueblo land will take a generation to recover.