Dean Little Lake Johnson

Video: Keeping Traditions Alive in Taos Pueblo

Jorge Martin Melchor
January 16, 2013


In Taos Pueblo, the oldest continuously inhabited community in the nation, Dean Little Lake Johnson is among several artists keeping customs alive. He makes peace pipes using traditions taught to him by relatives. In this video by Jorge Martin Melchor, Johnson says his art is one of many ways Taos Pueblo, in the mountains of New Mexico, has fought modernization. Surrounded by walls, the community chooses to live much like it did hundreds of years ago, without running water or electricity. Many even cook in earthen ovens. The respect and conservation of nature is a priority for the residents of Taos Pueblo. And artists are proud to maintain and share Native arts and crafts with visitors. Much of their work has become known outside of Taos. Little Lake Johnson says he has made peace pipes for everyone from celebrities to federal prisoners. He said the prison chaplain told him "that a lot of the Native American (prisoners) cried when they got those pipes because they were so special and so meaningful to them." Each pipe comes with a story and a blessing.

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