Regarding "New Awards Honor Public Places That Unite America" (Travel Insider, Aug. 13): I agree with Christopher Reynolds that the inclusion of Taos Pueblo is a little strange, given that the pueblo charges fees for admission and cameras. Stranger still is the inclusion of Acoma Pueblo, which also charges for both.
Taos and Acoma, along with the rest of the pueblos in the Southwest, are certainly entitled to make whatever rules they feel are appropriate to regulate and generate income from non-Native American visitors. Given the historic treatment of Native Americans by Europeans, it is perhaps surprising that they allow visitors in their pueblos under any circumstances. However, the restrictions imposed on visitors to Taos, and even more so at Acoma, certainly don't foster the bringing together of people of different ages and races.
I question when the judges last visited many of the places they like so much--time has not been kind to many of them. Santa Fe's Plaza now has all the charm of Disneyland along with T-shirt shops and tchotchke emporiums. Whatever may have been genuine at one time is now obscured in the fumes of minivans. When I first encountered Taos Pueblo 21 years ago, it was a place of enchantment and peace. Now I have to dodge tour buses and much of the pueblo is off-limits to visitors. What the Native Americans had to do was a matter of self-preservation but, in my opinion, has removed much of the agora aspect it once had.
HARALD R. HAHN