November 12 Jemez Pueblo Feast

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The special clay soil of the Jemez Pueblo that I have heard so much about

“When the blood in your veins returns to the sea, and the earth in your bones returns to the ground, perhaps then you will realize that this land does not belong to you, it is you who belong to this land.”

The Pueblo of Jemez (pronounced Hay-mess) is one of 19 American Indian Pueblos in the state of New Mexico. The Jemez have lived in the Jemez Valley for hundreds of years and in Northern New Mexico for at least 1,000 years. Wrap your brain around that! Today I was invited to a Feast for San Diego, by my friend. This was my first time ever going to a pueblo or an American Indian celebration. I am American Indian but it is a couple of generations back in our heritage, no one in my family is even in touch with the customs and traditions of our people.

We arrived at my friend’s house on “the Res” (reservation) and there was so much delicious food, family and friends. In the Plaza there were all-day dances with at least 400 dancers in each dance. It was truly amazing to watch. The dances are very long, maybe 30 minutes each and very high intensity, performed in the beating New Mexico sun. The dances are actually prayers. Photography is not allowed out of respect for the ceremony and it’s sanctity. I don’t think I am even supposed to describe the dances on this blog, so I won’t. It is not secret, it is sacred. The public is invited to share with their eyes and their hearts but the people of Jemez do not allow photographs, audio/visual recordings, sketching or publication of information regarding Pueblo activities, especially Feast Days. You should come to visit Jemez Pueblo, New Mexico if you want to know more.

The people of Jemez speak a language that anthropologists call “Towa” and the Pueblo of Jemez is the only place in the world where this language is spoken. It is not written down so as not to be exploited by non-Native people. The culture is so rich and the people so kind and loving that I am really looking forward to learning more. This meant a lot to me to be invited by my friend. I took my mom and Tall Handsome Son and everyone enjoyed the Feast. They received the bread that I had heard about previously from my across-the-street-neighbor. It was given as a gift from my friend, she made it for us. My mom and son each got a loaf but she knows that I no longer eat bread. I could not believe my eyes when my mom and son ate a large chunk of their respective loaves on the drive back to Albuquerque – that must be some damn good bread to eat dry! They both raved about how delicious that bread tasted. I was tempted to eat some but I didn’t. Someday…

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My mom eating her loaf of bread on the drive home
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My son smelling his loaf  before he tore into that humongous thing

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