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Local Treks

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Visiting A Foreign Country Without Leaving Your Own

img_035.jpgWhile my husband is off doing Army stuff for the next month, the kids and I are visiting my parents in the Jemez Mountains via New Mexico's Highway 4.  This beautiful area of the state is slightly north and west of Albuquerque. 

On Memorial Day, the Jemez Pueblo hosted a pow wow.  The Pueblo is generally closed to the public, but the pow wow was open to all.  We arrived and wandered past most of the booths.  My mother and I each bought a necklace and my dad got a silver bracelet.  From there, we headed over to the food area and got Indian Tacos (with red chile since the green was rumored to be smokin’ hot) and ate them sitting under a pinon tree.  Just as we were finishing our tacos, the pow wow started in earnest and all the dancers made their grand entrance into the ring.  I put E on my shoulders and we watched people of all ages dance as they entered.  The first in was a local Army soldier, carrying the US flag.  Behind him came people carrying the flags of all the services and behind them were all veterans and those currently serving from the local Indian tribes. 

After the flags and the veterans came the dancers and they were amazing.  Only official photographers were allowed to take pictures and I’m sure I won’t be able to describe the dancers adequately.  We saw people of all ages, from very old to very young, wearing their regalia and dancing.  Some had a lot of spring in their step and others were shuffling, but they were all beautiful.  We saw people wearing feathers, bones, bells, shells, and animal skin over the most brightly colored fabrics.  The littlest dancers looked like they were maybe 3 and E was fascinated by the kids her age.

What struck me was how these people were taking part in traditions that had been adapted for modern times but go back centuries, most likely.  The drums and drummers were really impressive, also.  Everytime I put E down on the ground, she danced along, and you couldn’t help but feel the drumbeat.  The biggest drums I saw were maybe 3-4 feet across.  The men drumming were sitting in a circle and singing/chanting along with the beat as the dancers moved around the circle.

The Jemez Pueblo generally has feast days that are open to the public, as long as you are willing to follow their rules.  The events and dates are listed here.  If you want to learn more about the Jemez Pueblo and can’t make it on a feast day, you can visit the Walatowa Visitor Center.

A drive to this area is a great daytrip from Albuquerque or Santa Fe.  There are many more things to do in the area and I’ve listed my favorites below:
•    Jemez State Monument
•    CWW Feed Store & More (located on Highway 4, this is a working feed store with stacks of other cool stuff as well.  There are chickens, horses, donkeys and sheep outside.)
•    Soda Dam
•    Jemez Springs Bathouse.

Posted in Americas : March-May : Toddler by Steph I. at 9:45 AMPermalink

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