Battle of the Family Plots & the Music & Myth Shop

Mirabal Music and Myth Shop 2013 summer.
Mirabal Music & Myth Shop – Summer 2013

This house in the picture above was my Grandma’s  (who was originally a Romero)and her mother before her. The house stands on the west side of the Taos Pueblo plaza facing the plaza eastward towards the main buildings and the race track.

As a boy I remember many, many visits to this house where my great grandmother lived. Originally it didn’t have a front entrance and it was made for storage of grain and corn. If you ever come to visit, I will show you the original entrance from the house to the right of the open sign which was the original building that my Grandma and her sisters grew up in. The house was basically taken away from them by their cousin who was the only boy in the family. He was a mean man, as I recall, and he and my Grandma never really had a good relationship because he stole the house from them as soon as their father (his Uncle) died.

This was the original entrance, note; the high-step inside.
This was the original entrance. Note the high-step inside.

On the southwesterly side was a huge entrance to the plaza from the west side and the family in back made a room that closed off the alley. Now, when they lift the pole up for the big Sept. 30th celebration, it’s always difficult to pull in from the west side. You don’t think about it, but there’s always a reason why things were done the way they were done.

By the time I was at an age where I understood adult politics much of the old house was in disarray, however, as I got older (and because I was the only boy) I became the caretaker of the  house in the village. Trust me, it’s not an easy task to shovel snow and plaster yearly. I don’t mind all that much, it gives me a sense of purpose and it brought me to a life that I eventually came to honor and live. As a young man I never knew what I was going to go through and I think as young men we sort of plow through everything like wild boars. As you get older things begin to come in more clearly with a sense of identity and knowledge.

inside old room facing the entrance.
Inside the old room facing the entrance.

As the years passed on, even with all those years of taking care of my Grandma’s house, I thought that I might lose it to one of my older relatives who, at the time, was drinking heavily and basically wanted to sell his jewelry in there to the tourists that come in abundance to see the village.

However, that summer, him and his family moved to Sante Fe and I ended up taking care of the property once again. It was about that time that a family meeting was called because there was some ownership issues with the uncles and aunties.

I remember sitting in the meeting with maybe 12 or 13 of us and listening to my Grandma say, ” The house will belong to whoever takes care of it.” Everyone around the table knew that I was the only one who took care of that house since as long as they could recall. Nobody showed up to shovel off the snow that winter and nobody plastered the front or the back that September before the feast.

One day Grandma told me, “This house is yours … take care of it.”  I must have been about 16 or 17 as I was still in high school.

Some items on display...
Some items on display…

In my early twenties I decided to buy some adobe and build a back room because all the neighbors were dumping their snow in my area and it was slowly eroding my walls so the best thing to do was to enclose the room and build a structure in between three walls and build it from the inside out. It was the first huge building project I ever attacked, but I finished it and it gave me a sense of worthiness and identity that was badly needed at the time.

This is w.hat i see when i enter my shop
This is what I see when I enter my shop/ NORTHSIDE PUEBLO with AHYUASKA CLOUDS.

The rest you might say is family history. We all have them – those battles of small plots that mean nothing to us as little kids. But then you realize as you get older that everything that gave you self worth was what you always cherished without reason or want or desire.

Once again another path of inspiration, not necessarily from another person, but from a small adobe home that didn’t mean that much, but became the identity and outlet to the world and to my fans who I love dearly.

Many crazy and loving ceremonial aspects have happened within these doors and they’re still walking through them. I’m glad I shoveled thousands and thousands of snowflakes to protect the ancestral world of my Grandma and her mother before her.

With love and beauty,  yours truly,


43 thoughts on “Battle of the Family Plots & the Music & Myth Shop”

  1. I needed this story today!!
    The Great Spirit
    is working within and out.
    Thank You!

  2. My husband and I were there at your shop in 2004. You weren’t there, but your wife was. It was a lovely and very peaceful shop. I’m glad you were able to be the one to take care of this. I hope you can pass this on to your family, and they feel about it they way you do.

  3. What a wonderful story and legacy to have to pass down through the generations. That view, is simple beautiful, thanks for sharing.

  4. One day… I will walk threw that door … IN some ways i envy that sense of self…something i have fought to find for so very long… and yet.. life will be what it will be and the paths it takes lead us to where we must go…understanding that has given me so much that was lost… I look forward to coming to visit… maybe share a laugh … Thank you for sharing a small part of your life.. it means more than you can possibly know…

  5. been to your shop many times in the past ’99-03
    felt the spirits when I entered and took a long silent time to embrace what you have obtained. your grand mother was right it is yours. peace brother

  6. Thank you for sharing and love the beautiful pictures. I think that just about every family has a mean person or 2 in it. I did not find my sense of self until recently and I am 41. Better late than never right? Have a great week.

  7. ~ Osiyo ~ With Seeing For The First Time In Calif. To The Time In Taos ~ And Meeting You One On One And You Signing My Guitar ~ I’ve Gained The Knowledge Of A Great Person That Respects His Ancestry And The Ways Of His Elders ~ The Gift That You Give Your Fans Is Without A Doubt The Best I’ve Seen ~ You My Friend Have A Giving Soul That Captures What The True Meaning Of Your Craft ~ Weather It’s Your Craft In Making Instruments Or Apperall ~ Or To Your Music ~ It Is My Hope To Come To Your Store ~ ( With You Being here) And Visit ~ I Hope You Liked The Beaded Headband I Gave You In Taos ~ I Know It Is Not Of The Craftsmanship That You Have But It Was From The Heart ~ Wado For Honoring Me With Your Friendship ~ Looking Forward To Seeing You Again ~ Always In A Good Way ~ Dennis WalkingHorse Brugman

  8. I totally relate to your story, I lived with my grandma
    Mostly in a small adobe near the rio grande
    Built by my dad. I cherish those memories.

    Thx for sharing and love your writings .

  9. I think it’s the house that has picked the Man – the one who cares for it. :o) I have been to the Pueblo twice and felt the spirit of peace and history there. I enjoyed talking to the people very much. You were not there at the time but I met your Mom, your Aunt, your Sister, Reynaldo and Art Lujan and several others – all beautiful people. I can’t wait to go again. Blessings to everyone there.

  10. Robert was at the Taos pueblo on Saturday August 4th, but your shop was not open. People told us that you were at a festival. We will be back at the end of August. Hope to visit you then. Interested in purchasing one of your flutes. Keep up your beautiful music and philosophy.

    Jim James

  11. Hi Robert, I have just found your blog site and am happy to hear your words.
    My Grandmother was the most important woman in my life. She raised me for the first 3 years.
    I was the first grandchild.
    She was born in rural PA and moved to NY where I was born and then to Deming NM to finish out her life. My Aunt is there still there and living all over the state in an RV with her husband.

    I am glad you are able to take care of such an important part of your life. I feel the power of dwellings in dreams so very often – I am making my own here in a log home that I built, blood, sweat and tears, literally.

    Thank you for sharing and I am discovering your music.

  12. Good evening Robert,

    Thanks for the short history lesson on your house. I love your Grandma’s wisdom. I do understand that there is a reason why things are done the way they are done. Love the clouds. You must have some interesting wind currents in Taos. Ma hoo ney.

    My Grandfather, whom I have never met. I know he is watching over me, my Papa. He was a huge land owner in Austria. He moved a treeline and people still curse him to this day. Lol. I wonder how he aquired his land. What it was like to manage people. Anyways, he sold his land to move his family to the new world, the promised land, Canada. My father, he wanted to live on Vancouver Island, so here I live. I am grateful.

    I am so thankful to connect with you. Blessings of health and vitality. Love you,

  13. I appreciate your sense of duty, responsibility and respect for your and our past. The past is too late to better but the present and future lie ever ready for us to make the world grow and prosper and become a wonderful land within which to exist. Wishing you all the best as you have exhibited to us with your concerns, actions and songs. Teaching by example. What a wonderful way to learn.

  14. Without you and people with your strong sense of heritage and family, the traditions of the purer world would disappear. I hope to be like that for my family. To instil pride in who we are, where we’ve come from and to always respect the heritage of all people throughout the world. Please continue to share your insights and stories.

    I have your book Skeleton of a Bridge. Thank you for a picture of a life that I can only dream about. And thank you for picking up those four Australian women that cold afternoon in 2007.

  15. Robert,
    It is very inspiring for me to read your words. I have a 25 yr. old son and he has not found his path yet so I pray that it will all come together for him as it did for you.
    In your last blog you wrote about the corn pollen time and that brought some interesting searching from me and more understanding of the sacredness of it all.
    Thank you and I will come and visit the shop at the Pueblo and meet you and your lovely family.
    I like to think of the snowflakes as our dreams falling to rest with our Mother. Beautiful to think of you gathering all those dreams for her.
    Blessings and Peace,

  16. I love learning more about you. I have been a fan for a long time, both of your talents and your family. someday I would love to come see your shop. I am now playing my flute and performing a little at free venues with my flute circle. This instrument is magical and has lead me to many wonderful experiences and meeting many wonderful people. I am honored to be able to tell you this and to read your blogs and wise words. I am looking forward to meeting you again in Sept. at the Naperville pow wow. the last time I met you was in aurora after your painted cave concert. Thank you for sharing your spirit in a good way.


  17. Mirabal,

    Once again giving us the vision of how important family is. You are so correct.

    Thank you so much for your wisdom.

    I too have a family adobe home my father built and it is also a peaceful place that is special to us all. Right by Rio Conchos.

    It is where we all connected the most.

    It was such a treat to here you on NAC today.

    Blessings to you and your family.


  18. Thanks for sharing the story of your home and shop. My family visited in the summer of 2012, and met your wife and some of the other family members who were around. As I recall, my children bought some snowcones just outside the door while my wife and I were shopping on the inside. Beautiful architecture both in your shop and around the entire pueblo. Hope to visit again the next time we are down that way visiting family/friends in Albuquerque and Santa Fe.

    We saw you many years ago when you performed in Lawrence at the University of Kansas. Hope you get a chance to come this way again… would love to see another of your performances.

    Topeka KS

  19. Thank you for the history of your beloved shop. You truly are a blessing that you honor your Family and ancestry. Unfortunately that is rare in our modern age.

    Keep up the inspirational work!

  20. Robert-

    Your story gives special meaning to me. We had many battles in the family on who will keep the land. Some wanted to sell and I wanted no part of that. I needed to preserve history for my family and after a struggle, in the end the land is our history and open to any that want to visit, live, work it or ride horses in the open fields.
    We are visiting Santa Fe next week for the Indian market and to visit friends. Since we will be close to your shop, would love to visit.
    Will you be open Sun or Mon 18th or 19th. Love to stop in and say hello and share your history. Otherwise maybe we will run into you at the market. Many thanks for bringing up memories.

    Dawson and Family

  21. I brought my husband to Taos pueblo last year. His first time there, as we haven’t been married a long time, and I love showing him the Real places. Your sister was there and we got to talk for a while, very nice. We’ve been back to Taos several times in the past year. He is in love with the whole area, like so many other people past and present. We live in N.M and we travel all over so that I can show him the places of my childhood and people. Even into Oklahoma. It’s a wonderful thing that you still have something to take care of and hand down to your children. Our ancestors land has been bought up, divided up. There are memories and family history which I cherish, but you have something still tangible. A living history that continues there and still resides outside and inside of you.
    Continuing love

  22. I went to your store in Tao’s and your shop in Tao’s Pueblo, wish i could have met you but,met your wife at the store in Tao’s she was a very nice person.I remember the old woman down from your shop selling wonderful blueberry pastries! Hope to see you at the Naperville Pow Wow in Sept.

  23. Daanzho, Aeeeh any how Robert thank You for the ancestral path that you walk. It seems as if I have known you a long time. I can only say that it has to be from reading your stories almost every time you send them to all of the brothers and sisters.

  24. Thanks again Robert for the words of beauty and for honoring your ancestors and their Path. I am in transition of having to find another place to live within the month and it won’t be easy but it will be another one of the many Journeys that I have taken since becoming an adult. Although it doesn’t seem to be getting easier, I continue to learn lessons from each one. I plan to stay in the Taos area as I have work here and the Mountain has certainly taken me in so all I can do is trust the Creator. I have learned that while I have traveled far from my original home, I have come home just the same. Make sense? Sometimes we are not born where we are supposed to live. I believe this and still cherish my memories of my ancestors’ home. Maybe we will see you at the Regeneration Festival in Kit Carson Park Memorial Weekend. It would be awesome for you to come and share more of your stories to help inspire our young people to follow a stronger Path and to understand that you are one more person who cherishes and honors the children. Consider this your personal invite from us (Lyla & myself). And to all your fans – please come out and join us too.
    Love and Blessings to you and your family

  25. In a country with high mountains houses so cozy that the desire to stay in one of the houses. It is very nice architecture pleasing to the eye and the sun is shining from an almost cloudless blue sky. It’s a bit like a dream. What are the houses built by may I ask?
    It is exciting to hear about the life you live with your family.
    Have a nice day

  26. You write:
    This house in the picture above was my Grandma’s (who was originally a Romero) and her mother’s before her.
    I’m sorry to ask but what is a Romero?
    May the day be good

  27. these are all Adobe structures mud straw bricks alone with the same plaster on the walls..

  28. Thank you for the story and history. I have been to the Taos pueblo it is an amazing place with amazing history. Thanks for the music all of these years. See you on the plaza Wednesday. All the best

  29. If you ever want any mean relatives I have a few you can have..HAHA Will be stopping in Taos with one of my best and dearest friends in September. Look forward to experiencing the beauty and culture of the area.

    Never stop sharing your stories, they are inspirational to so many; and so many can relate in so many different ways.

  30. Dear Robert, So glad to see you on FaceBook.My husband and I love your music and we were wondering if you are ever going to come back to Milwaukee,Wisconsin for Indian Summer Festival or perhaps Potowatomi Casino to perform?We miss you ,hope all is well with you and yours.

  31. Thanks for sharing your life with us. I’m beginning to know you better than my neighbors. I like that you can still look at life through your childs eye and see the beauty in things we sometimes overlook. And your history. I noticed living on 2 different Rez’s that as people get older, they go back to where they started. They have cousins, auntes, children and in some way everyone is related and accepted. I know of no other group of people orther than Native Americans and the Hatfields and McCoys that do that. My family, what’s left of them, live all over the US and our yearly reunions are getting smaller with elders and larger with children and babies, but we never live in the same town or even close. So reading your stories mean alot to me, even if it’s about a two seater outhouse. I had that and probably you too. Does the Pueblo even have running water. It’s been 30 years since I’ve been there and I don’t remember seeing it or wondering about it. Again, thanks for the stories.

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