A trip to Santa Fe, New Mexico won’t be complete without a visit to the pueblos which has served as the traditional hub for Native American communities for centuries. These villages are composed of single or multi-storied structures, typically of adobe construction, which has withstood the passage of time.
There are 19 pueblos in the entire state of New Mexico. Eight of these centers of culture are in northern Santa Fe, namely Nambe, Ohkay, Owingeh, Picuris, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, Santa Clara, Taos, and Tesuque. Among these villages, the Taos pueblo has been designated as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and a National Historic Landmark. A living Native American community continues to thrive in the well-preserved village for over 1000 years.
As outlined in the official travel site of Santa Fe, New Mexico, visitors must adhere to a list of strict guidelines when visiting any of the pueblos, bearing in mind that these are cultural sites. The first important rule is to always coordinate with the visitor center or tribal office on anything related to the planned visit. There are days when the village sites are closed for religious observances and other ceremonial activities so it is best to contact them before scheduling a visit.
Visitors are also asked to strictly follow the guidelines of the pueblo, including traffic and speed limit regulations. Avoid going beyond the village areas where visitors are not authorized to explore. Since the pueblos are cultural sites with centuries-old structures, care should be exercised not to disturb or damage any artifact on site. There are certain areas that are typically off-limits. These areas include the graveyards and kivas or chambers that are used for ceremonial, social or even political purposes. The kivas are described as either a round or rectangular room, sometimes subterraneously carved in the dwelling.
There are also specific rules on using a camera or video recorder for documenting one’s visit. It is best to coordinate with the center to know the specific permits or restrictions covering artist drawings, photographic, video, or audio recordings to stay within regulations. Moreover, strict guidelines barring alcohol and drugs are also enforced within the pueblo.
As an important landmark, the pueblo provides visitors an insight on Native American culture and traditions through preserved artifacts and artworks as displayed in the structures or museums within the site. In turn, visitors are encouraged to follow and respect the guidelines of these living communities.
If you’re convinced visiting these pueblos would be an interesting experience (and we certainly think it would be!), we’d recommend staying at Four Kachinas Inn for an authentic B&B stay.