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Pueblo Etiquette

When visiting pueblos and reservations, you're expected to follow a certain etiquette. Each pueblo has its own regulations for the use of still and video cameras and video and tape recorders, as well as for sketching and painting. Some pueblos, such as Santo Domingo, prohibit photography altogether. Others, such as Santa Clara, prohibit photography at certain times; for example, during ritual dances. Still others allow photography but require a permit, which usually costs from $10 to $20, depending on whether you use a still or video camera. The privilege of setting up an easel and painting all day will cost you as little as $35 or as much as $150 (at Taos Pueblo). Associated fees for using images also can vary widely, depending on what kind of reproduction rights you might require. Be sure to ask permission before photographing anyone in the pueblos; it's also customary to give the subject a dollar or two for agreeing to be photographed. Native American law prevails on the pueblos, and violations of photography regulations could result in confiscation of cameras.

Possessing or using drugs and/or alcohol on Native American land is forbidden.

Ritual dances often have serious religious significance and should be respected as such. Silence is mandatory—that means no questions about ceremonies or dances while they're being performed. Don't walk across the dance plaza during a performance, and don't applaud afterward.

Kivas and ceremonial rooms are restricted to pueblo members only.

Cemeteries are sacred. They're off-limits to all visitors and should never be photographed.

Unless pueblo dwellings are clearly marked as shops, don't wander or peek inside. Remember, these are private homes.

Many of the pueblo buildings are hundreds of years old. Don't try to scale adobe walls or climb on top of buildings, or you may come tumbling down.

Don't litter. Nature is sacred on the pueblos, and defacing land can be a serious offense.

Don't bring your pet or feed stray dogs.

Even off reservation sites, state and federal laws prohibit picking up artifacts such as arrowheads or pottery from public lands.

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