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Journal Excerpts from New Buffalo

The following journal entries primarily come from Art Kopecky's book New Buffalo: Journals From a Taos Commune and Iris Keltz's book Scrapbook of a Taos Hippie. Both Keltz and Kopecky lived in the New Buffalo Commune in New Mexico during the late 1960s and early 1970s. They were just two of many who chronicled the social experiment that was life in a commune. The following quotes and excerpts speak to many of the cultural themes that have been discussed and also shed light on smaller occurrences of daily life. 

Although the cultural characteristics of New Buffalo may not be universal, they are certainly representative and clear manifestations of the commune culture at large. New Buffalo was founded in 1967 during the Summer of Love, a time when thousands of communes were sprouting up all over the country. Instructed by elders of the Taos Pueblo in building, praying, and planting, they used native mud and wood from a nearby forest to construct a 5,000 square foot adobe main building and two smaller adobe buildings. Dedicated to raising their own food, they began growing corn, squash, and beans and raising chickens. Hundreds of hippies came to New Buffalo over the years, but despite the traffic, the commune closed in 1979. 

In the 12 years of its existence, New Buffalo managed to amass quite the hippie following. Many of these hippies, like Keltz and Kopecky, left their words and pictures behind to inform the outside world and generations to come of their lifestyle and inspire them to share their beliefs.

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Hippies board a psychadelic bus, a common means of transport for those small intentional communities, bound for New Buffalo Commune. 

"This is what we counter, unending development; the trend to get everyone into cities - abandoning small farms - getting people to buy all they need. We keep building cities. freeways, suburbs, and shopping centers. It's disturbing. Our culture is so addicted to building, as though the earth were expanding beneath our feet. Us, I see as an alternative, not dependent on having jobs building cities and roads, destroying the natural landscape. I would rather see us spread out in the country, oriented to the land and streams and plains; not oriented to the commute and pavement." -- Kopecky 

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A small child born to the commune stands on a yoga altar at New Buffalo in 1969. 

"Here I am, at the moment, alone with five naked ladies. Torg, who we met the first day we arrived at Kate’s, shaved his beard and cut his hair and went off in search of a job today.  Uh-oh! Last night, just at sunset, sheriff and local cop named Scoop drove up and ripped off Torg for sales of marijuana. They came up the hill and called for our brother sweetly, and he comes out smiling and laughing, gets in their car and off he goes not to sleep under the stars tonight. We just looked on, and what can we do, momentarily, we soldiers of peace? Instant karma. See, one of our numbers cuts his long hair, starts to look straight and tries to find a job. Bam! He’s busted." -- Kopecky

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Tents standing during the early stages of New Buffalo commune, before the buildings and homes had been built. 

"The rhythms and intimacies of village life were seductive. For a while, I dreamed of settling there and living in the primitive but comfortable stone house, in time becoming a village elder, and sharing the stories. But I was American and doubted I could accept another wife into the family, or wait until the men finished eating, or be kept in a constant state of pregnancy to prove my worth.

As we drove up the rutted New Buffalo driveway my vision was rekindled. This could be my village. But who were the bare-chested women ambling near the parking area? I tried to act blasé as they sauntered by, titties floating freely in the breeze over ankle-length skirts. Two mountain men engrossed in conversation were bent over a pickup truck. The barrel-chested guy with long matted black hair and matching beard scowled, seemed to withdraw inside himself when he saw us. I thought he was going to ask us to leave. The other wild-looking guy in gray coveralls smiled a sly but inviting grin." -- Keltz 

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An Indian yogi teaches commune members how to open their minds with meditation during a group yoga session.

"In the morning Chuck and I took out the garbage to the public dump. We couldn’t get the truck out over a hill, so we hitched home, got all kinds of chains and bailing wire to improvise a set of chains. Max and Neil came to help, got the truck almost out but broke a brake line; the truck shot back down the hill. We then went to town and back to Buffalo and got a thing to repair a hole and make a splice. We found another hole, went to Questa and bought a new line.  As the sun set, Chuck and I put in the new line, bled the brakes, put on the new gigantic chain that Max scored and drove home. Had some rabbit that Chuck shot, lemon meringue pie that Susie baked and smoked some homegrown. Moon is out, shining lots of light these nights on the white landscape. Do we know how to have fun or what?" -- Kopecky 

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Members of New Buffalo pitch in to help build the new communal house in 1968. 

"Lunch was rice, beans and vegetables. So was dinner. Those in front of the line got more vegetables and those to the back more beans and rice. A macrobiotic diet suited the economics and ideology of the day. No longer were we the meat and potatoes people of America exploiting the land for the love of hamburgers. I was willing to go along with their ideals but not Faisal, who carried his culture with him like a turtle carries his shell. Without asking, he emptied a bag of charcoal, poured on the starter fluid and set up our camp stove in the courtyard. Before you could finish smoking a joint, the succulent odors of shish kabob went wafting through the courtyard. I expected our makeshift kitchen to be shut down, but learned that when one is culturally intact, as in "shish kabob is my native diet," one is invulnerable." -- Keltz 

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A young hippie couple take a break from the daily work of life at New Buffalo. 

"People snoring in the circle – I can understand the uptightness. I could go sleep up at the open-air barn and be away from these distractions; that is the trick, I believe. We each find our place with Mother Earth and use the big houses as centers of the people’s culture – for the service of the people. My thought is complex, though, for I like a tight family and quiet. Look within us to solve the problem. God bless our open house and have my brothers and sisters feel very good." -- Kopecky

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A newlywed couple at New Buffalo shares their first kiss after a hippie wedding ceremony, 1968. 

"The difference between those who meant to settle here and build a life and the transients who came to marvel in this corner of the Aquarian Age became apparent. The struggle between the workers and the party faction was pervasive. Bob, the "Philosoper King" of the New Buffalo kitchen, spearheaded the party crowd. While people worked in the fields and gardens, the renegades crowded into Bob's room for electric Hawaiian Punch and Led Zeppelin, played on the only stereo at the commune with electricity pirated from the power pole. If George asked a visitor to leave because there wasn't enough food or room, Buffalo Bob would counter with an offer of dope, food and a place to crash." -- Keltz 

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A caravan from New Buffalo journeys to a protest at Los Alamos, New Mexico, 1968. 

"I am realizing more and more that the elite who control the economy are going to have to be gotten off their throne. Land of equality with such disparity is farce. More and more I believe, that in my lifetime, I should see some major change take place in this area.
The commune is a natural alternative to the life style of consumption. I’ve still got a notion in the back of my head, that this may play a role in the future of this country’s economics. With roots in the soil, with people being close to some essentials, there would be less insecurity about the often-slipping numbers of jobs. With more working people not so dependent on the jobs offered by the big corporations, we would perhaps be able to depose those people who guide our economy into such conspicuous consumption." -- Kopecky