Three Kings Day in Indian Pueblos

Three Kings Day in Indian Pueblos

January 6
Three Kings Day in Indian Pueblos is the day for the installation of new officers and governors at most of the 19 Indian pueblos in New Mexico. The inaugural day begins with a church ceremony during which four walking canes, the symbols of authority, are passed on to the new governor. The governor is honored with a dance, which starts in mid-morning and is usually some form of an animal dance—often the Eagle, Elk, Buffalo, and Deer dances. Spirited and animated, they are considered a form of prayer. Each dance is very different from the others, and the same dance differs from pueblo to pueblo, although certain aspects are similar. In the Deer Dance, for example, dancers "walk" holding two sticks that represent their forelegs. They wear elaborate costumes and antler headdresses.
New Mexico's 19 pueblos are: Acoma, Cochiti, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Picuris, Pojoaque, Sandia, San Felipe, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Santa Ana, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo, Taos, Tesuque, Zia, and Zuni. Each of them celebrates its saint's feast day as well as other occasions with dances and ceremonies that are an expression of thanksgiving, prayer, renewal, and harmony with nature. Many dances tell stories, legends, or history. Besides the feast days and Three Kings Day ( Epiphany), most pueblos observe these other major holidays: New Year's Day, Easter, and Christmas, which is often celebrated for two to five days.
CONTACTS:
Indian Pueblo Cultural Center
2401 12th St. N.W.
Albuquerque, NM 87104
866-855-7902 or 505-843-7270; fax: 505-842-6959
www.indianpueblo.org
SOURCES:
DictFolkMyth-1984, pp. 346, 571
FolkAmerHol-1999, p. 30
IndianAmer-1989, pp. 285, 306