Taos - Orientation



Identification. Taos Pueblo is located in northern New Mexico. The name "Taos" is an adaptation of têotho, "in the village," or têobo, "to or toward the village," the usual references in the Taos language to the Pueblo. The s was the Spanish plural ending. The name "Taos" is invariable today in both Spanish and English.

Location. The most northern of the Rio Grande Pueblos, Taos is seventy miles north of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The Pueblo is at the base of Taos Mountain, sacred to the Indians and one of several prominent peaks in the Sangre de Cristo (Blood of Christ) mountain range. At an elevation of 7,098 feet, Taos Pueblo is surrounded by an extensive well-watered and agriculturally productive plateau into which the Rio Grande has cut a deep gorge only a few miles from the Pueblo. Wild game is abundant and the mountain stream and small rivers that descend into the Rio Grande are well stocked with fish.

Demography. The reservation population in 1987 was 1,484, with a total tribal population of 1,951. Those who do not reside at the Pueblo live primarily in Santa Fe and Albuquerque and in Colorado, with others scattered mainly in cities in Arizona and California. Since World War II the population has increased dramatically, from 830 in 1942 to 1,457 in 1964 and nearly 2,000 today. The Taos have vigorously opposed intermarriage with other Indian groups, although many such marriages have occurred over the years. Nevertheless, as of 1972 they maintained a mean percent Indian "blood" of 95, which was high even compared to other conservative Eastern Pueblo groups.

Linguistic Affiliation. The Taos language is one of two Northern Tiwa languages; the other is spoken at Picuris Pueblo twenty-five miles to the south of Taos. These Languages plus the two Southern Tiwa languages spoken at Isleta and Sandia Pueblos near Albuquerque constitute the Tiwa branch of the Kiowa-Tanoan language family.


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