Comanche Dancers–New Year’s Day

New Year’s Day here in Taos was bright and clear with the temperature soaring into the low 50s. I met an old friend at the Hanuman temple and he suggested we go to the Taos Pueblo to catch the holiday’s Turtle Dance there. I was eager to take him up on his idea and the experience was very special for me. No cameras are allowed when there are ceremonies such as this at the Pueblo so I can’t share what I saw, as much as I’d like to!

After that we drove out to my neck of the woods, Talpa, to see if we could locate a group of Comanche dancers. I blogged about this tradition (with photos) last year this time and just looked at this year-old blog. I felt it did a good job of explaining the intent of the dancing. The light conditions were different and I liked those old photos better than the ones I took this year.  So here’s a LINK to that post.

The Comanche Dances start around 7:30 AM at the famous St. Francis church in Ranchos, about 2 miles from my house. In these dances there is a blend of American Indian and Hispano traditions. Back in the days before the Spanish even arrived in the Taos area the strongest nomad tribes of the day were present, the Comanche and the Apache. They both had horses before other groups and this gave them an advantage. Through interactions with settled natives, who were at the time Mexicans since this was before New Mexico became part of the United States, the two groups intermarried and shared their languages and traditions. The dancers travel as a group to homes of families named Manueles and Manuelitas and other community elders. The drums can be heard from time to time during the day and they stop at sunset.

I also found a great video online that uses story and video shot here in Taos (2011) of the Comanche dances. Here’s a LINK to that I highly recommend.

Turtle dancers at San Juan Pueblo (old photo from internet)