New Mexico towns

My first stop heading north from Santa Fe was at Pojoaque Pueblo, a Native American nation with its own government. At the pueblo, Poeh Cultural Center, a complex of traditional adobe buildings, has an exhibit portraying Tewa people throughout thousands of years of history and culture. And there was a wonderful new exhibit that touched my heart.

In the spirit of recent efforts to return art works and important artifacts to their place of origin, the Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC invited indigenous artists from pueblos in the area to choose one hundred pots from their collection to return after over one hundred years. The People’s Pottery exhibit, called Di Wae Powa in Tewa, which means “They Came Back,” displays the pots in pyramid-shelved, glass enclosed cases.

In a video, native potters held the pots and talked about reconnecting with their ancestors through the work of their hands that formed and painted the pottery. These artists were likely descendants of the creators; the skills and techniques were usually passed down through the family. They described the clay as living, created from the earth of the Pueblo land. Before digging up the clay, Pueblo people ask the earth for permission. “They were lonely,” explained one artist, and now they are “happy to come back home.”

Poeh Museum

When I first came out west in the 70s, I bought this treasured bowl from an artist sitting on a blanket at the Santa Fe Plaza. She signed it Marie Pacheco, Santa Clara Pueblo.

The High Road to Taos heads northeast from Pojoaque. I didn’t go all the way to Taos this trip, but drove through a few of the small towns, then looped back to the main road (Hwy 285).

Nambé Pueblo is known for Nambé Lake and Falls. I have been a bit of wimp hiking these days, especially since I turned an ankle recently that still bothers me when I stress it. The view of the falls from the lower trail requires wading through the lake at one point, and part way along the upper trail I decided it best not to go through a narrow stretch of small rocks, sliding as I stepped. So I didn’t make it to the dramatic falls, but it was a pretty trail and a perfect place to get some exercise to break up the drive.

Nambé Lake
Lower trail
Upper trail

Red rock sandstone shapes appeared along the road, snow peaks in the distance.

El Santuario de Chimayó, in the village of Chimayó, is a large complex designated a National Historic Landmark. Thousands of pilgrims are said to travel to the shrine during Easter week.

The view was spectacular from Truchas, my last stop along the High Road to Taos. This sleepy village was the town where the movie The Milagro Beanfield War was filmed. The church is now an art gallery, not open that day.

I often purchase books as part of my further education while traveling, or reread novels that evoke the place I’m visiting. Here are two classics that I loved. In the first, villagers protest a planned development, inspired by a farmer who waters his beans after the town residents are told they could not use the water. I read the book years before the movie came out; the film is excellent as well. The second is a mystical, magical coming of age story in a rural New Mexican village.

More New Mexico wanderings to come.
Santa Fe road trip: LeadvilleSanta Fe landmarksWalking Santa Fe, Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico towns, Ghost Ranch, Antonito

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Published by rkrontheroad

Writer, photographer, traveler

49 thoughts on “New Mexico towns

  1. So love the story of the returning artefacts, especially as the people have been praying and that their prayers have been answered. I’m not a religious person but the story is heartwarming. As we discovered on our recent trip, there are so many micro versions of religious beliefs in Mexico, where tribal traditions meet Catholic beliefs. It’s all both fascinating and complex.

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  2. I love this simple style of architecture and the magnificent carved doors. It all looks neat as a pin. Can’t blame you for not wanting another turned ankle Ruth. Hope all is well with you. Allan

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  3. Fantastic to see some of the places we didn’t stop at on the High Road to Taos, as well as revisit through you a couple that we did (Chimayó and Truchas). I loved hearing about the People’s Pottery exhibit – so glad to know that some objects at least are being returned to their rightful homes. And thanks for the book recommendations – Bless me Ultima in particular sounds like one I would enjoy, I’ll check it out

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  4. As always, your photos and stories are such an inspiration. It warms my heart to know the natives have some of their ancestral pottery back where it belongs. And I’m sorry about your ankle. I hope your recovery continues – it can take a while! Hugs my friend.

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  5. There’s a lot to NM than just Alburquerque and the White Sands! You definitely explored off the beaten path, and El Santuario de Chimayó looks especialy rustic and stunning. Exploring the smaller towns really show the beauty of the US Southwest!

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  6. Such a wonderful collection of beautiful photos, Ruth, especially the ones with snowy mountains. I have been buying books when travelling abroad for over 20 years now. Not only do they help me to gain more valuable information about the places I’ve visited, they often end up as travel souvenirs, too. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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  7. Glad to hear that the Smithsonian is returning indigenous pottery to the rightful area. The views of Nambe Lake with all those golden trees are gorgeous. I love the yellow flowers on the cacti and the red rock formations too. Hopefully your ankle fully recovers.

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  8. Like you (and others) I am encouraged to hear about cultural objects going back to where they belong. A lovely piece Ruth with some truly stunning scenes, especially those along Nambé Lake. Love those handsome shades of yellow and green.

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