Taos Pueblo's Hlaauma

Taos Pueblo’s Hlaauma

In 1992, Taos Pueblo was recognized by UNESCO as the first Living World Heritage site.  It is an outstanding example of a traditional human settlement which is representative of a culture and which has become vulnerable under the impact of irreversible change.  Taos Pueblo is considered the oldest continuously inhabited community in the United States.  Buildings are individual homes built side-by-side and in layers with common walls and no connecting doorways.  Previously, the only entryway was by ladder through an opening in the rooftop which made it difficult for anyone unwanted to enter.  Today, homes have doorways.  Homes are built with adobe composed of earth, straw, and water which is mixed and poured into forms.  After the bricks are sun-dried, they are stacked and bonded together with the adobe mixture.  The roofs are supported by criss-crossing timbers.  The exteriors are plastered annually with adobe.  The Pueblo has no electricity and no running water.  The Red Willow Creek is named after the willows that grow along the banks.  The river divides the community into the North House, Hlaaume, and South House, Hlaukkwima.  The Sangre de Cristo mountains can be seen in the distance beyond the North House.  The Saint Jerome Church, built in 1850, is a registered National Historic Landmark.  Native rituals are immensely important, but 75% of the population shares in some Catholic practices.  Kivas, although off-limits to visitors, were evident.  The cemetery is where the original San Geronimo Church, built around 1619, was located. U. S. troops destroyed it in 1847 in retaliation of an uprising that killed the Territorial Governor, Charles Bent.   Horno is a Spanish word for the outdoor adobe oven still used.  We tasted some frybread which was baked in the South House.  We purchased two CDs with Native music.  Back in Taos, we saw a family from the Taos Pueblo perform several social dances accompanied by a drummer/singer.  The music on the CDs and our pictures will help to remember this interesting community.

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