The Grandmas would always say, "we're much better followers of the conqueror's religious ways than they are."
The Pueblos have been inundated with so many influences it's amazing that our existence as an actual culture still has precedent. To see us you begin to realize that the world can use a bit of knowledge from how well we have taken in and accepted many forms of culture without destroying each other.
EXCERPT FROM RUNNING ALONE IN PHOTOGRAPHS; Robert Mirabal 2008
Rhythmic chanting of church hymns sung in Spanish. Interspersed with a cadence of a dry cold cowhide drum being beaten by a little half-breed Mexican drummer boy. Through the immense crowd of people, the young pueblo children danced. They could barely be seen in front of the windblown canopy that created the backdrop. In a running pattern the kids kept moving quickly; their flowing hair, ribbons blowing in the cold wind. Eight or nine men were singing loudly for the children. One kept time with the black, smoky Kiva drum. In the cold he seemed to be the only one sweating. Underneath the glowing awning was the statue of the Virgin Mary. The effigy rocked back and forth on her pedestal, appearing so life-like in the surreal, swirling, dream stage of the village. Burning pitch wood staffs lit the way for the dancers. Giant matchsticks carried by tiny pueblo men, whose faces grimaced from the heat of the bonfires on one side, the other wrapped in a blanket from the bitter cold. Glorious Mary sat on a little platform with a white sheet awning over her to protect her from the elements. Plump pueblo men bundled up in their new blankets transported her. Like a spring bride she wore the colors of winter. The wind pushed her; she swayed from side to side as the pueblo men held tightly to the wooden-carriage. She made her journey around the plaza appearing so clean, calm and oblivious of the smoke, the pinon pitch embers from the huge bonfires, the coldness of winter--even the calamity of the world seemed not to discourage her on her once-a-year voyage of dancing around the village. She was just a statue that felt nothing; albeit in her nothingness thousands and thousands of people felt her power, she came out to see her nation like the beautiful saint she was. She floated above all in her pueblo like an apparition in white. . . Pueblo Indians became faithful followers of her faith with a much greater commitment than their conquerors, who carried her to Taos Pueblo hundreds of years ago, from a place far away from the south.
Then as quickly as the wild, dreamlike event started, it was over. Another Christmas Eve at the pueblo passed for the tribe of people. It was gone. Just like the dying embers in a fireplace. It was over as swiftly as it began: people dispersed, the big bonfires flickered, pushing puffs of smoke signals off into the winds that now were joined by snow. . . Curious on-lookers sat in the cold frankincense and pinon-smoke-scented church, watching the men and women of the pueblo carefully assemble the effigy in place. They fattened her dress, along with her veil, while they softly spoke under their breath in an indiscernible language. For the remaining few it could have been 1701 still waiting for their prayers to be answered. . .