Taos History


The Town of Taos was incorporated as a general law municipality on May 7, 1934. It has a Mayor/Council form of government, along with an appointed Town Manager to manage the affairs of the Town.


The long and proud history of the Town dates back to August 29, 1540 when Capitan Hernando Alvarado as part of the expedition of Francisco Vasquez de Coronado arrived in the Taos Valley for the first time.

They saw the magnificent ancient towering pueblo structures of the historic Taos Pueblo, and the peaceful Tiwa Indians who had inhabited the area for centuries. It was a peaceful meeting, and gifts were exchanged. That first meeting was the first of many cultural exchanges that were to forever change the valley we know as Taos today.


Later, Don Juan de Onate, the first Governor of what is now New Mexico established colonies under the Spanish crown in most of Northern New Mexico. By 1615, Taos was established as a Spanish Village, and had an appointed Alcalde (Mayor).

The peaceful co-existence between these two cultures eroded over time, and led to conflicts between religious beliefs and the treatment of the native peoples. On August 10, 1680 a large pueblo revolt under the leadership of Pope, a San Juan Pueblo Indian, was underway which led to the expulsion of the Spanish from New Mexico.

Twelve years passed, and then, in august of 1692, Don Diego de Vargas was appointed leader of an expedition which was to conquer once more, convert souls, but, perhaps above all, find the mines of silver in New Mexico. De Vargas conquered the land, and established the Capital at Santa Fe. Many of the Indians again came easily under the Spanish flag, but it was not until 1696 that the proud Taos Pueblo Indians made their last stand, and then surrendered.

Naming of Taos

The name Taos was first inscribed in history by Juan Belarde, secretary to Don Juan de Onate in 1598, when he wrote, "this day, after mass, we went on to the province of the Taos which they also called Tayberon and others". He had heard the Picuris Indians pointing to the northeast, say that their relatives the "Tao" lived yonder. Subsequently, by 1760 the Village was named "Don Fernando de Taos" by the Spanish settlers.

Historians believe the name is attributed to Captain Don Fernando de Chavez, one of the leading settlers prior to the rebellion, who owned the land currently knows as the Cristobal de la Serna land grant. Don Fernando never returned following the rebellion.


Taos is now a community overflowing with a long proud history, three cultures living side by side, and a heritage of colorful people. Its diversity makes Taos a very interesting and desirable place to live and do business.