The Mystical Side of the History of Taos – Religion and Beliefs

Although the history of Taos is quite comprehensive, the Taos Indians’ rituals and legends are kept for themselves, because they do not want to be commercialized in any way. However, though rituals and belief are not familiar to the general public, they seem to dominate the entire place as much as the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. What makes this place so magical?

The Origin of the Indians

The stories regarding the Taos Indians’ origin were transmitted orally from one generation to the next. But, when the intellectuals and writers came here, in the 19th century, the tribal elder members shared their knowledge with some of them.

The Taos Indians believed that they were made by the waters of the Blue Lake – which is still the primary source for drinking and irrigation. The Blue Lake is considered a sacred place even now and most of the ceremonies are kept around it.

The Origin of the Name of the Town

It is generally known that the word “Taos” means “the place of red willows”. However, there is evidence that indicates that this was an Indian word used by the other tribes when referring to the red men of the valley. What was initially called Tao became Taos because of the Spanish influence.

Religion and Ceremonies of Taos

There were three kinds of religions in the region: Christianity, the aboriginal religion and the Native American Church. Although the Indians had accepted other types of beliefs, they still have their kivas – a sort of ceremonial chamber used for religious rites – to pray to their Gods. They also tend to believe that an unusual God – who has the appearance of a plumed serpent – brought knowledge to the red men.

To some extent, it seems that religion and ceremonies are interdependent. In traditional ceremonies, the people are dressed in a particular way – wearing feathers – and they sing and dance. The dance is known as the dance of the Matatchines. Nowadays, the ceremonies are open to the public, but outsiders are not allowed to interfere.

Although the true origin of the Taos Indians may never be found, their traditional way of living, alongside the beautiful landscape of Taos, makes this an unforgettable place.

The People of Taos and Their Unique Ways Of living in the Land of Taos

History and culture resist over the years due to the people who witness the evolution of the land, but can they survive time if they are recorded in writing? Here, it seems so. Although the people from Taos were always reluctant to reveal their culture, their buildings and their way of living can tell us a lot about it.

How Does Its Story Begin?

When the Spanish came in this region, in 1615, the local Indians were rather astonished by their unfamiliar things, such as the wheel, iron, mules, horses, sheep, cattle, wheat and other types of grains. After the Spanish were introduced into the locals’ agricultural system, they strongly influenced the Taos landscape.

Somehow, this promising bond between the Indians and Spanish ended in 1680, with the Pueblo revolt. However, the arrival of Don Diego de Vargas ended it, and people began to build the Taos Plaza and the community expanded this way.

How Did the People in Taos Live?

Although their history is soaked in numerous fights, the Indians always had the power to adapt while maintaining their traditions alive. As for their appearance, there are certain documents that claim they had a Mongolian face, with slanting eyes, high cheek bones and round face. It is also believed that the locals’ ancestors are closely related to the Asians.

The locals lived close together in 5 or 6 stories high buildings. They had hot rooms underground, one room for sleeping and one for cooking and eating. Their primary source of water was the river that runs through the Pueblo.

The houses were built in the adobe style – a mix of water, earth and straw. They did not have doors or windows so as to be protected against other tribes. They used external ladders to enter the houses.

How Do People Live Now?

There are 150 people who live in the Pueblo full-time, with no running water or electricity. 90% of the Taos people are Catholic, but they still celebrate ancient religious rites. The languages spoken are their native language, Tiwa, as well English and Spanish.


The Birth of the Town of Taos

Taos is regularly visited by thousands of tourists that come here to find various forms of recreation and to experience the wonderful feeling of discovering a new place with a fascinating history.  This versatile region is destined to offer diversity to people, being a link between the old and the new.

The Beginning of an Unknown Land

The story of the Town of Taos itself has begun quite recently, but its history flow brings us back millennia ago, when this new town was not even a future project. Although this ancient land was not discovered by Christopher Columbus, he has given the Catholic Monarchs of Spain the appetite to expand. This led to the arrival of conquistador Francisco de Coronado, and, finally, to the Spanish Colonization. The colonized people were Indians, named Anasazi, which lived in the Taos Valley and built the Taos Pueblo.

Taos Pueblo and Spanish Colonization

This Pueblo is actually a community that borders the Town of Taos on its North Side. It was built a millennium ago and it has been continuously inhabited since then. When Spanish conquistadores came to spread their Catholic faith and look for the Cities of Gold, supposedly hidden among the Mountains, the Indians opposed. However, the Spanish succeeded to settle down and transformed their staying into a continuous trade which was helpful for both the Indians and Hispanic settlers.

The Mexican-American War

The battle for this land was not over. In 1846, the United States tried to claim the territory, but the people opposed once again. The Mexican War began and the Indians lost their authority, but they still kept their territory and traditions when Taos became a county in 1852.

The Town Of Taos Today

Nowadays, the Town of Taos is a flourished place in which ancient tradition and culture perfectly resonate with the modern world, which has brought various activities here, such as fly fishing, golfing, hot air ballooning, rafting, mountain biking and more.