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Think Before You Take That Picture!


I'm sure you've all been tourists before. I'm the first to argue for how important it is to travel and get to know new places and cultures. But after my experience here in Taos Pueblo, I left feeling confused and even a little angry about tourism.

Try to imagine how you'd feel if strange people came into your neighborhood and started taking photos of your house and your garden. Now imagine if these same people asked to take a picture with you, then started asking tons of private questions. Sounds pretty rude, huh? Well, that's just what happens at Taos Pueblo, one of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico, and home to over 1,700 people. Every day, dozens, sometimes hundreds, of people trample through, invading the privacy of the Puebloan people.

So...if the tourism is so bothersome, why doesn't the tribe put an end to it? Well, maybe because the tourism isn't that bad. Some of the important things that tourism provides are the revenue (money) for the people of the area, more jobs, and maybe most importantly, the learning experience about the tribe's culture and way of life. After all, without tourism, I wouldn't be able to be visit this area and write about it to all of you.

I wondered how the kids in this area felt about all this tourism. I asked them as we visited the Taos Day School, a K-8 school inside Taos Pueblo. Most of the students we talked to told us they would prefer it if tourists didn't come through the Pueblo, even though they are bringing money to the area. One girl even said she hated when she was stopped on the street by strangers asking her to take a photo.

I realized as I listened to these children that I too, in visiting the Taos Pueblo, was a tourist. Stephanie and I decided that taking photos on this visit would be overstepping our boundaries as visitors. That's why you don't see any pictures along with this dispatch.

I hope you think about these things the next time you travel to a new place. It's important to learn about new cultures and people, but remember to show the respect and courtesy that you expect from your friends when they visit your home.


Please email me at: daphne@ustrek.org


Links to Other Dispatches

Stephanie - So what exactly goes on at a powwow anyway?
Team - Wigwam-o-rama!