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The adobe church at Picuris Pueblo, New Mexico
Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Indelible Memory: Touring a New Mexico Pueblo With a Local

July 30, 2018

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Picuris Pueblo is a modest settlement outside Taos that has not been modernized: the roads are dirt, the adobe homes are crumbling and the trails are unmarked. As we walked up to the central plaza, a man emerged from the structure labeled “Scalp House” and headed our way.

The interior of the church at Picuris Pueblo Photo by Hideaway Report editor

He had long gray hair braided down his back and weathered skin, but his smile was friendly and he reached out to shake our hands. He insisted on taking us around personally. Picking up large chunks of obsidian, he laughed about the steep prices people pay for a rock that is so common in his community. He pointed out obsidian, as well as chards of broken pottery, that were embedded in the adobe walls.

Buildings at the historic settlement outside Taos Photo by Hideaway Report editor

Then he led us to his former house and shared stories of making bread with his mother, tending to bison on the family’s land, and farming beans and corn with his father. He exuded passion as he explained the pueblo’s artistic traditions, as well as its growing economic self-sufficiency thanks to a majority stake in the Hotel Santa Fe. Three hours later, we regretfully left him. When we checked into the hotel later that week, I mentioned his name and was told that he was the pueblo’s only medicine man and a chief elder.

Read more from our editor about touring historic pueblos in New Mexico.

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This article appeared in The Hideaway Report, a monthly newsletters exclusively for members.

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