Taos Pueblo: Native Americans, Adobe, Indian Fry Bread

My mom enjoyed showing me “her” New Mexico and we took a short trip up to Santa Fe for a few days since it’s a hot spot and the state’s capital.

I enjoyed Santa Fe: there are a ton of art galleries and it actually has a historic center much like a “centro” in an Italian town that is quaint and fun to walk around. Wikipedia says it’s actually the 3rd largest art market in the US after New York, and L.A. but, since I have limited luggage space, and perhaps even a more limited budget, shopping for art wasn’t very appealing to me. The Santa Fe Opera opened its season on Friday evening and though we had an opportunity to buy tickets, they were the last pair at $170 each and since we were lucky enough to go to the Palais Garnier in Paris last September for cheaper than that, we felt we should pass.

What I really enjoyed was the trip we took to Taos, a city about 1 hour northeast of Santa Fe. The highlight for me was visiting the Taos Pueblo, a Native American reservation and World Heritage site.

I am sharing these pictures with you because I encourage you to visit it, and I thought it was a special place. Please note that these pictures are for personal use and will not be published or sold commercially, in accordance with the request of the Taos Pueblo.

We spent quite a long time talking to the inhabitants and families of the pueblo which, though they are not pictured here, are definitely the most interesting part of the pueblo. Each one had a different story to tell about their family, what they do, or something to impart on their Native American heritage.

I spent some time talking with one of the inhabitants about their history and how I felt the Europeans might be more interested and informed about Native American history than some Americans (myself included). I was sad that S couldn’t be there with us, since he’s really interested and educated about it.

I did my part, though, and at a certain point I gave one of the jewelers some photography tips so that he could photograph his work and show his customers on days when he was all sold out (the day we were there). We also took home a CD of “Totemic Flute Chants” by Johnny Whitehorse (pseudonym of Pueblo native Robert Mirabal) which has some relaxing flute compositions and chanting (and it won a Grammy!).

I mentioned the “faux” adobe phenomenon in New Mexico, in which houses are stylized after traditional adobe made of mud and straw. At the Taos Pueblo, this is the real thing. The main buildings are purported to have been constructed between 1000 and 1450 AD, making them the longest continuously inhabited dwellings in the US.

Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

Here’s some detail of the adobe. What I really loved was how every once and a while, some color would pop out at you from the earth-colored adobe. You can clearly see the straw that is mixed in with the mud and clay. Being inside these buildings was remarkably cool when compared to the hot temperatures outside!

Traditional Adobe, Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

Interestingly enough, the Catholic church is still present even on a Native American reservation. The Indians on this reservation are 90% Catholic. I loved these stained glass windows.

Taos Pueblo church stained glass

One of most interesting parts about the Taos Pueblo is their cemetery. The old bell tower stands at attention in the distance, watching over the myriad of different colors and materials that make up the headstones in this cemetery.

Taos Adobe Pueblo Cemetary

And you know that even on an Native American reservation, I manage to find food. We tried the traditional Indian Frybread / Fry Bread, which was strikingly similar to the Pettole I eat in Puglia at Christmas. They told us that traditionally the frybread was fried in the buffalo lard remaining and that it was eaten during feast days, but now they make it often for us tourists. It was delicious!

Indian Fry Bread, Taos Pueblo, New Mexico

This was an apple, prune and pine nut turnover pastry, and it was good, too! It’s nice to enjoy something else handmade other than the traditional jewelry and pottery widely available at the Pueblo.

Indian Prune & Apple Turnover at Taos Pueblo

Have you been to Taos Pueblo, or another Native American reservation?

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  1. says

    What a fun trip. That fry bread looks so good! I’ve had this weird obsession with it ever since I read The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven by Sherman Alexie in high school. I can’t bring myself to make it though … I draw the line at frying foods in my kitchen for the most part. I’m dangerous enough with just a pan and a whisk ;)

  2. Cristina says

    I just came across your blog today as I was recipe blog hopping. I saw your first post earlier today and did not have time to respond until now. What I was going to say this morning is that Northern New Mexico and Southern New Mexico are entirely different places culturally, but now I see that you are visiting N. NM and experiencing it for yourself. My parents have a small ranch in the mountains between Santa Fe and Taos so we consider the region home even though we have been living in Europe since 2002. We spent three years living near Lago di Garda and exploring much of Italy but have now moved north and are enjoying living in the “heart” of Western Europe.

    I don’t know if you have had a chance to make it to Sardegna yet; but as we travelled around the island there were certain elements of both geography and architecture that struck us as having the familiar feeling of home – – unfortunately, N. NM is not surrounded by the same beautiful mare, or any mare for that matter, as Sardegna!

    Looking forward to keeping up with your blog!

  3. says

    I found more of an interest and respect for Native tribes from Europeans as well. Many collectors there used to buy my beadwork (my other grandma was Lakota Sioux).
    We make the fry bread with a little hole poked in the center. We top it with ground beef, cheese, onions, tomatoes..kinda like a taco! They are just soooo goooood!

  4. says

    It sounds like you’re having a wonderful visit. I love the photos; thanks for sharing them with us. So many off-the-beaten-path, interesting things to see!

  5. says

    Taos is really nice. We spent some time there a couple of years ago and loved it. My Italian LOVES southwest Indian stuff. and it is very interesting. I keep trying to get him into my Cherokee heritage but for him – the Southwest tribes are the best.lol Thanks for the post.

    yummmmm…fry bread…

  6. says

    The fry bread reminds me of fried pizza that my grandmother made (she was from Campagna) and was topped with tomato sauce and grated romano.

  7. says

    I used to date a Navajo guy and got to travel to many Indian Reservations throughout the states going to powwows and various religious ceremonies. Those were some of the most memorable moments in my life. I got to witness ceremonies that unless you are invited, can not be attended by outsiders. And I have had my share of frybread! I have had frybread with honey and powdered sugar, or with ground meat, lettuce and tomatoes also known as a Navajo taco. The best flour to use for frybread is called Blue bird. Frybread can be addicting, but you have to be careful or you will be classified as a “frybread fatty”…haha!

  8. says

    Hey, you’re in my stomping grounds! Have some green chile for me (or better, bring some back! ;) Taos is gorgeous, one of my favorite areas of the state. The Pueblo looks like a multi-tiered sand castle from a distance. Glad you’re experiencing the beauties of my state!

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