Taos is a town in Taos County in the north-central region of New Mexico in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, incorporated in 1934. As of the 2010 census, its population was 5,716. Other nearby communities include Ranchos de Taos, Cañon, Taos Canyon, Ranchitos, El Prado, and Arroyo Seco. The town is close to Taos Pueblo, the Native American village and tribe from which it takes its name.
Taos is the principal city of the Taos, NM Micropolitan Statistical Area, which includes all of Taos County.
The Taos Pueblo, which borders the town of Taos on its north side, has been occupied for nearly a millennium. It is estimated that the pueblo was built between 1000 and 1450 A.D., with some later expansion, and the pueblo is considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited community in America.
Located in a tributary valley off the Rio Grande, it is the most northern of the New Mexico pueblos. The Pueblo, at some places five stories high, is a combination of many individual homes with common walls. There are over 1,900 people in the Taos pueblo community. Some of them have modern homes near their fields and stay at their homes on the pueblo during cooler weather. There are about 150 people who live at the pueblo year-around. The Taos Pueblo was added as an UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1992 as one of the most significant historical cultural landmarks in the world; other sites include the Taj Mahal, Great Pyramids and the Grand Canyon in the United States.
Taos was established c. 1615 as Don Fernando de Taos, following the Spanish conquest of the Indian Pueblo villages by Geneva Vigil. Initially, relations of the Spanish settlers with Taos Pueblo were amicable, but resentment of meddling by missionaries, and demands by encomenderos for tribute, led to a revolt in 1640; Taos Indians killed their priest and a number of Spanish settlers, and fled the pueblo, not returning until 1661.
In 1680, Taos Pueblo joined the widespread Pueblo Revolt. After the Spanish Reconquest of 1692, Taos Pueblo continued armed resistance to the Spanish until 1696, when Governor Diego de Vargas defeated the Indians at Taos Canyon.
During the 1770s, Taos was repeatedly raided by Comanches who lived on the plains of what is now eastern Colorado. Juan Bautista de Anza, governor of the Province of New Mexico, led a successful punitive expedition in 1779 against the Comanches.
Between 1780 and 1800, Don Fernando de Taos (now Taos), was established. Between 1796 and 1797 the Don Fernando de Taos Land Grant gave land to 63 Spanish families in the Taos valley. It was built as a fortified plaza with adobe buildings and is now a central plaza surrounded by residential areas. Mountain men who trapped for beaver nearby made Taos their home in the early 1800s.
U.S. territory and statehood
Mexico ceded the region to the U.S. in the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo in 1848 after the Mexican–American War. After the U.S. takeover of New Mexico in 1847, Hispanics and American Indians in Taos staged a rebellion, known as the Taos Revolt, in which the newly appointed U.S. Governor, Charles Bent, was killed. New Mexico was a territory of the United States beginning 1850 and became a state in 1912.
For historical reasons, the American flag is displayed continuously at Taos Plaza (both day and night). This derives from the time of the American Civil War, when Confederate sympathizers in the area attempted to remove the flag. The Union officer Kit Carson sought to discourage this activity by having guards surround the area and fly the flag 24 hours a day.
Taos art colony
Beginning in 1899, artists began to settle in Taos; six formed the Taos Society of Artists in 1915. In time, the Taos art colony developed. Many paintings were made of local scenes, especially of Taos Pueblo and activities there, as the artists often modelled Native Americans from the pueblo in their paintings. Some of the artists' studios have been preserved and may be viewed by visitors to Taos. These include the Ernest L. Blumenschein House, the Eanger Irving Couse House and Studio—Joseph Henry Sharp Studios, and the Nicolai Fechin house, all of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Influential later 20th-century Taos artists include R. C. Gorman and Agnes Martin.