In my CFA class we have learned that culture is not static and is, in fact, quite dynamic – evolving all of the time in response to outside influences and events.

Today we visited the Taos Pueblo and the Puye Cliff Dwellings. I definitely have a deeper appreciation for the amenities of our modern lives after learning how these two groups of people survived yet still maintained their strong cultural beliefs. Because I’m in a sustainability course at the Taos Pueblo, my class did not just go on your typical tour. We were given a tour by the Pueblo’s Environmental Manager who oversees all regulations from the United States government that must be implemented while making sure they do not conflict with the Pueblo’s deep and spiritual beliefs.

Puye Cliff Dwellings

Puye Cliff Dwellings

As a sovereign nation, the Pueblo often finds itself in a difficult position, juggling traditional principles with those of the modern world located just outside the wall and over the mountain.  That the sacred beliefs of this culture have been maintained for so long displays the pride of the people who still live without electricity, indoor plumbing, or other amenities we take for granted.  They do not live this way because they cannot afford such luxuries. It is considered an honor to live in the original Pueblo without such modern conveniences because of the sacred and historical relevance of the community.

After leaving our tour with a greater appreciation for the people of the Pueblo, we began our road trip to Santa Fe to visit the Puye Cliff Dwellings.  Traveling by the scenic High Road and weaving through the mountains, we saw views some only dream of witnessing.  I wish I could have filmed the entire journey.  Now I am only left with the scenes replaying through my mind.

Upon reaching the outskirts of Santa Fe, I was excited to enjoy a picnic lunch with my class and the opportunity to explore the Puye culture. Once we arrived at the dwellings, I was in shock and awe! While the homes are no longer inhabited, the remains are left and continue to surprise all visitors.  Around 1000-1200 A.D., these astonishing humans carved their homes out of the volcanic rock of the Pajarito Plateau.  The details and pictographs that remain tell their life story before and after the Spanish conquistadors came and conquered the region. Our tour guide, ancestor of the Puye, currently resides in the Santa Clara Pueblo just down the road.  He conveyed that his people have also worked very hard to maintain their culture from long ago as well as their respect for the Earth’s environment.  Being able to climb the mountain and walk where such history was made was a marvelous research opportunity for my class.