Albuquerque Journal (Albuquerque, NM)

the two became One.

Byline: David Mercer Of the Journal

Northern pueblos have meshed Catholicism and their own traditions into an almost indistinguishable faith

Woven into almost a single belief, traditional American Indian religion and Catholicism are virtually inseparable on northern New Mexico's pueblos particularly during the holidays.

Traditional deer dances and other rites often are performed before or after Christmas Mass, with pueblo members attending both.

"Our ancestors for many reasons a principal one being their survival meshed or integrated Catholicism into some of the ceremonial events, most visibly during Christmas time and during our patron saint's day," said Herman Agoya, a tribal councilman from San Juan Pueblo.

But this wasn't always the case.

During Spanish colonial rule before the Pueblo revolt in 1680, Indian religion was sometimes very visible, sometimes not at all. It all depended upon the Spaniards, Agoya said.

"The pendulum would swing back and forth; so sometimes the priests and the civil authorities were tolerant and would allow it," said Agoya, who helped organize the Eight Northern Pueblos and was twice executive director. …

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