Blue Lake


Pueblo tradition teaches that the land, air, and water belong to everyone. But in 1906, 300,000 acres within Taos Pueblo’s domain was designated as National Forest by President Roosevelt. Within the 300,000 acres was Blue Lake, the Pueblo’s most important religious site.

Taos Pueblo first heard of the forest designation when Taos Pueblo men were told they needed special use permits to worship at Blue Lake. Upon visiting the area, the men saw the desecration that had occurred. Cabins, corrals, and even an outhouse had been built on the sacred site.

Several generations of Taos Pueblo leaders went to their graves believing Blue Lake had been lost forever. But after 64 years of perseverance, Blue Lake was returned. Along with 48,000 acres, it was the first ever piece of land to be returned by the US Government to an indigenous people. President Nixon signed the bill returning the Blue Lake, Public Law 91-550, in 1970 at a White House ceremony. Taos Pueblo hopes to see all its land returned someday. Towards this end, the pueblo of Taos dedicates proceeds from the Taos Mountain Casino to purchasing land adjacent to Blue Lake.  Non-tribals members are not allowed access to Blue Lake at any time.



The Taos Pueblo Pow Wow celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the return of its Blue Lake and surrounding lands on July 10, 2010.  This rememberance and celebration will observe one of the most significant occasions in the history of Taos Pueblo and American Indian People.  The pueblo's 64 year struggle with the US Government to reclaim religious freedom and protection of sacred land.  In addition, the return of Blue Lake was celebrated at the Taos Pueblo on September 17 & 18, 2010. 

On December 15, 1970, former President Richard M. Nixon signed into effect Public Law 91-550, approved in a bi-partisan vote by the United States Congress.  In reference to 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 IndiansThe Congress of the United States now returns that land to whom it belongs...I can't think of anything more appropriate that could make me more proud as President of the United States."  That signing restored Taos Pueblo lands and led to the unhindered continuation of the Pueblo's centuries old traditional culture.  It also set a precedent for self-determination for all American Indian people, tribes, and nations. 

Taos Pueblo Governor James A. Lujan (2010)declared, "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."  Cacique Juan de Jesus Romero, the Pueblo's religious leader in the late 1960's and 1970's, was instrumental in testifying on behalf of the Pueblo before Congress, stated in his response to Congress' approval and President Nixon's signing,"A new day begins not only for the American Indians, but for all Americans in the 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 locale of social and cultural events.

The Taos Pueblo Pow Wow acknowledged the history, the struggle, and the victory of Blue Lake during the Saturday afternoon grand entry on July 10, 2010.  A procession of tribal elders and several keynote speakers were on hand to commemorates this event.

Taos Pueblo
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