Taos pueblo: a living museum?

taos pueblo

I visited Taos Pueblo this week, an adobe village belonging to the Red Willow people of New Mexico. I was following in the footsteps of Carl Jung, no less, who came here in 1924 to study indigenous people, believing them to be pure archetypes of human psyches that reside in all humanity.

Our guide was a young indian student who reeled off the fact and figures in a rapid staccato (I think the poor guy may well be doing this several times a day) but one thing that struck me was his insistence on the maintaining of their traditional way of life as being the only way to preserve their dignity, their history and culture. That meant no running water, no electricity, no heating, and preserving their indigenous religion, which is interwoven with Roman Catholicism. Several times a year the inhabitants dress up and perform ceremonies, watched by hundreds of tourists. They won’t even write down their native language, as this has only ever been an oral tongue.

There is  time-honoured tradition of indigenous peoples clinging to their old way of life as a reaction to the horrors inflicted upon them, and the Red Willow are no exception. It has to be said, though, that most of the Red Willow live outside the Pueblo, in comfortable bungalows with satellite dishes, and only occupy the adobe houses during ceremonies. A pragmatic compromise.

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