Native American Cultural Etiquette
Visitors are welcome to New Mexico’s Indian pueblos and reservations for dances and other special events related to Native American culture and traditions. Several hold regular tours and have excellent visitor centers with information about Native American culture and beliefs. Bear in mind that visitors are not allowed on certain days, when special observances are held in private. Call the pueblo or tribal office in advance of arrival to be sure that visitors are welcome on that day.
Honoring Native American Culture and Traditions
Always remember that when you visit a pueblo, you are visiting
someone’s home. Please observe all posted requests and regulations. When
you are on Indian land, you are subject to Indian laws. Here are some
Native American culture facts and key tips to remember regarding Native
American culture and beliefs when visiting tribal land.
- Pueblos prohibit the drinking of alcohol during visits.
- Some pueblos charge a photo fee, while many pueblos do not allow photography at all. Please check with the tribal office upon arrival.
- Cell phones are prohibited.
- Families still live in the pueblos, so use the same
courtesies you would use in your own neighborhood. Do not move up close
to look into windows or walk into buildings uninvited.
- Enter a pueblo home as you would any other: by invitation only.
- Do not look into or go inside kivas. These underground ceremonial chambers are sacred.
- When attending pueblo dances, keep in mind that the
dances are religious ceremonies, so remain silent and do not applaud
afterward. Do not ask questions regarding the meaning of a dance and do
not talk to the dancers or singers. Do not walk across the plaza (dance
area) or between the dancers, singers or drummers.
- It is considered impolite to refuse an invitation to
eat in someone’s home, so try to eat a little bit even if you have
already eaten or are not hungry. But keep in mind that your host will be
serving many, many guests throughout the day, so do not linger at the
table after you are finished. Also, your host is not a tour guide, so if
you have questions, wait to ask your guide or a pueblo employee.
- Do not remove pottery shards, rocks or any other
natural formations from Indian lands. Do not pick fruits or vegetables
from fields or trees.
- If you are on a guided tour, stay on the trail.
- Be aware that public restroom facilities may not be available.
- Do not bring your pets.