Published On: Thu, Sep 9th, 2010
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Taos Pueblo to Commemorate 40th Anniversary of the Return of Blue Lake

TAOS PUEBLO, NM  –  Taos Pueblo will commemorate the 40th Anniversary of the return of its sacred Blue Lake and surrounding lands on September 17 and 18. The theme of the two-day celebration is appropriately titled, “Blue Lake – A Symbol of Cultural Strength and Determination.”

The late President Nixon meets with Taos elders in 1970. (Photo contributed)

The remembrance and celebration will observe one of the most significant occasions in the history of Taos Pueblo and the American Indian People: the Pueblo’s 64-year struggle with the United States Government to reclaim religious freedom and protection of sacred land.

“We hope all our neighbors in the Taos Valley will plan to be with us as we celebrate this momentous event for the people of Taos Pueblo,” said Taos Pueblo Governor James A. Lujan.

The celebration will commence on Friday, September 17 with a 7 a.m. opening mass at St. Jerome Church on Taos Pueblo, followed by a procession of the “Blessed Mother” and coffee reception at the Pueblo. An evening reception at the Kachina Lodge that night will be held from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. The reception will feature hand drum music and an opportunity for Taos Pueblo members to share stories of Pueblo struggles to reclaim Blue Lake. Light snacks and non-alcoholic drinks will be served.

Then on Saturday, September 18 beginning at 9 a.m., festivities will take place throughout the day, including: a color guard procession, opening prayer, comments from tribal officials and dignitaries, a keynote speech by Larry Echo Hawk (Asst. Secretary for Indian Affairs, representing President Obama), legal perspective of the legislation and a Pueblo luncheon.

On December 15, 1970, former President Richard M. Nixon signed into effect Public Law 91-550, approved in a bi-partisan manner by the United States Congress, which restored Taos Pueblo lands and led to the continuation of the Pueblo’s millennium-old traditional culture. It also set a precedent for self-determination for all American Indian people, tribes and nations.

In speaking of the Bill’s significance, President Nixon stated, “this is a bill that represents justice, because in 1906 an injustice was done in which land involved in this bill, 48,000 acres, was taken from the Indians involved, the Taos Pueblo Indians. The Congress of the United States now returns that land to whom it belongs… I can’t think of anything more appropriate or any action that could make me more proud as President of the United States.

Cacique Romero, the Pueblo’s religious leader in the late 1960s and 1970s, was instrumental in testifying on behalf of the Pueblo before Congress. Romero stated in his response to Congress’ approval and President Nixon’s signing that, “a new day begins not only for the American Indian, but for all Americans in this Country.”

That new day led to Taos Pueblo safeguarding the interest and welfare of the Pueblo and its water supply, natural and domestic resources, and the locale of social and cultural events.

Taos Pueblo is the only living Native American community designated as both a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a National Historic Landmark. The Pueblo has been continuously inhabited for over 1,000 years and is open to the public, except during ceremonial events. 

Visit Taos Pueblo for the annual “San Geronimo Feast Day” on Thursday, September 30. The Feast Day is the largest gathering of Indian nations where crafts and food are shared between tribes throughout the country. Admission is $10 per carload which includes parking.

Photography is not permitted during the San Geronimo Feast Day or during the 40th anniversary events of September 18th. For more information on Taos Pueblo, contact the Taos Pueblo Tourism Department at (575) 758-1028 or tourism@taospueblo.com. Visit www.taospueblo.com for general information.

Source: Blue Lake Committee Press

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