JEMEZ PUEBLO, N.M. (AP) — Kids who have been eagerly awaiting a fun-filled night of trick-or-treating in this small Native American community will need to find a new way to spend Halloween.
Leaders of Jemez Pueblo have banned trick-or-treating on Halloween, saying it's a safety concern for children walking near unlit roads at night and a holiday that's not part of pueblo culture.
Pueblo leaders say anyone trick-or-treating on tribal land will be sent home, and suggest parents who want their children to participate take them elsewhere.
"You have kids, groups of kids, walking by the side of the road. One of my major concerns is what if kids get hit by an individual who is not being cautious?" Jemez Pueblo Gov. Joshua Madalena said.
The ban also comes as the community has realized in recent weeks that it needs to stay in touch with its youth following a vicious killing last month.
Investigators say a local resident was stabbed with a kitchen knife and box-cutters, beaten with a shovel and mutilated. The killer is then accused of pulling out the victim's entrails and wrapping them around his neck while throwing some on his mutilated body.
The notion of children racing from house to house in the dark has caused fears among local leaders because of the lack of street lights in the pueblo.
There's no lighting along the two-lane asphalt highway that snakes through the pueblo, with the speed limit dropping to 30 mph around homes and tribal offices. There's also no lights on the narrow, twisty dirt roads in the village's heart.
The community of about 2,500 lies in an area of mesas and red rocks an hour's drive northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico's largest city. The tribe still deeply embraces its traditions, including preserving the Towa language that's unique to Jemez and is spoken by more than 90 percent of its members, Madalena said.
Houses are traditional flat-roof adobes interspersed with stucco homes and some mobile homes. Many have traditional hornos, adobe beehive-shaped outdoor ovens, for baking bread in the yards.
The pueblo's children have trick-or-treated for only a few decades, after the holiday was brought in by a family who had lived off Jemez land for many years, Madalena said.
Jemez members contacted by The Associated Press about the ban did not want to talk. Madalena said the ban is supported by the Tribal Council and pueblo religious leaders.
"Their words of wisdom is what we need to continue to promote our traditional ways and values to our children, to educate them on our ways and customs, our dances and our songs," Madalena said.
There are some signs of Halloween on the pueblo two days before the holiday. A house on the outskirts displays two jack-o'-lanterns on the porch; paper cutouts of pumpkins grin from the windows of a building near Dave's hamburger, taco and fry bread shop.
Far more common in the village are ristras — strings of drying red chile — and handmade signs urging people to vote Nov. 2.
Pueblo leaders had been inching toward banning trick-or-treating for a couple of years, and some pueblo members suggested it, Madalena said.
The leaders instead want to stress All Souls Day Nov. 2, which pays respect to loved ones who have died.
"We pay tribute to our ancestors, we pay tribute to our family members that have passed on to the other world, and we ask blessings from them," Madalena said.
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