Many visitors to the Southwest are drawn to the Pueblos during the annual Feast Days. These cultural celebrations bring those both familiar and new to the customs and traditions of the Pueblo people. The celebrations occur at the same time each year, and most Pueblos hold a large Feast Day to honor the patron saint of the community. While it may seem to some that these days are only for celebrating, they have a much deeper meaning to the people of the village.
Traditional dances, shared meals and other activities are part of the day, but despite what some may think, these activities are not part of a performance. Instead, they have deep religious meaning for the people of the Pueblo and should be treated as a religious ceremony. The meals offered are the gift of each family to both friends and visitors. Guests, though welcomed, need to remember they are entering someone’s home and act accordingly.
There are a few other important things to keep in mind should you choose to visit any of the Pueblos, especially on a Feast Day:
- Call in advance to ensure visitors are welcome on that day.
- Observe all posted rules and regulations. When on tribal land, you are subject to tribal laws.
- Drinking alcohol is forbidden during visits.
- Some Pueblos forbid photography while some charge a photography fee. Find out in advance which rule will apply.
- Cell phones are prohibited.
- Homes, even those offering meals, are private dwellings. Enter by invitation only.
- Remain silent during the dances and do not applaud afterward. Do not ask questions about the meaning behind the dance.
- Do not walk between dancers, singers or drummers.
- Do not pick up and take pottery shards or rocks.
- Do not go inside kivas. They are ceremonial spaces and are private.
Pueblo people are offering their hospitality to those who come to visit on these special days. Returning that hospitality with respect will make for a good visit for everyone.