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Laguna Pueblo actually comprises six villages, all traditionally Keres-speaking: Mesita, Seama, Encinal, Paraje, Laguna, and Paguate. (In 1953 one of the world's largest open-pit uranium mines, the Jackpile, began operation in Paguate, bringing with it income and health issues. The mine was shut down in 1982.) But visitors are especially drawn to Old Laguna, capped by the eye-catching white facade of San José de Laguna Church, which is visible from Interstate 40. The church, built in 1699, is a National Historic Landmark; its lovely hand-painted and embellished interior may be accessed by special permission. Occasionally—in front of the church or at the scenic overview just west of the Laguna exit—handcrafted silver jewelry and finely painted pottery embellished with Laguna polychrome motifs are available for purchase. The pueblo's villages enjoy many feast days, including St. Ann (July 26, Seama), Virgin Mary (September 8, Encinal), and St. Margaret Mary (October 17, Paraje).
Most of the pueblo's residents (and the welcome public) gather at Old Laguna on September 19 to grandly honor St. Joseph with traditional dances; food and fine crafts abound. Feast day dances usually begin at 10 and continue through the afternoon. Except on feast days, visitors may not wander any of the villages unless with a tour. And with the exception of the view from outside the church at Old Laguna, photography is prohibited at all times.
Old Laguna: Exit 114 from I–40, Laguna Pueblo, New Mexico, 87026, United States
505-552–6654-tribal office; 505-552–9330-church access; 505-331–6683-tours
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