The adobe buildings on top of this 365′ rock mesa, halfway between Albuquerque and Gallup, New Mexico, have been occupied by the Acoma tribe for several thousand years. The tribe had moved to the top of the mesa to avoid contact with other, less peaceful tribes. But nothing prepared them for the Spanish Conquestidor Francisco Vasquez de Coronado who stopped by in 1540. He describes the town on top of the Mesa as one of the “strongest places he had seen.”
At first the contact was peaceful but by 1598 war erupted. In the end, 600 Indians were killed, 500 were imprisoned and all men over 25 had their right foot amputated. Then came the Spanish priests who imposed the Catholic religion on them, and the forced labor of building a 6000 square-foot church, with 60′ ponderosa logs brought by hand from the mountains of northern New Mexico. They did good work; The San Estevan Del Rey Mission Church is now a National Trust Historic Site.
Today, the majority of tribal members live in villages below the Mesa but return to the top on weekends for tribal and religious ceremonies.
Visitors may tour Acoma on tribal led tours. Call the Sky City Cultural Center and Haak’u Museum for information.
Desert View Tower at the Grand Canyon celebrates the work of one of my heroes, architect Mary Jane Colter, who built the tower in 1932, reflecting the watchtowers of the Anasazi Indians who lived in the area. She also designed Bright Angel Lodge and several other National Park Service buildings and Fred Harvey Hotels.
We have a cabin in Pine, Arizona, our year-around get-a-way. It is nestled in beautiful Pondorosa Pines, indeed underneath the Mogollon Rim which stretches across most of Northern Arizona. The ridge that I painted is directly across from our cabin and is a finger of the main Rim. The orange cabin (orange of course) is ours. The other two belong to good friends. . .their grey cabins are a good counterpoint to ours. We all have great views of the Fall elk migrations and the small white-tail deer that make our forest their home.
This painting was juried into the 2014 Arizona State Fair.
Sacred Mountain Trading Post first came to the nation’s attention in the iconic road-trip movie, ‘Easy Rider,’ released in 1969. It’s starring role was brief; just a stop for the stars to fill up their motorcycles with gas at the old trading post on Highway 89, just 22 miles north of Flagstaff. Now it has gone from Trading Post to residence, but the name is still there.
It does have a special meaning for our family, however. Daughter Jessica was born on the highway here. (Her birth certificate says: Delivered in car, by mother; long story, safe delivery).
Painting was juried into 2014 Arizona State Fair.
Bisbee, Arizona, the small town nestled in the mile-high Mule Mountains, was once the largest city between St. Louis and San Francisco. It boasted the state’s first golf course, community library and ball field plus 47 saloons in the area called Brewery Gulch. What fueled this was one of the richest mineral sites in the world. Over 3 million ounces of gold, 8 billion pounds of copper and additional silver, lead and zinc were mined during the 100 years the open pit mine was in operation . When the mine closed in the 1970’s, artists and writers moved in.
Now, Bisbee, named after Judge DeWitt Bisbee who funded the mine, has staged a comeback becoming one of the state’s most interesting tourist towns. The art galleries, book stores, restaurants, unusual shops and bed and breakfasts promote themselves to Arizonan’s as well as international tourists.
Not to be missed: the Copper Queen Mine tour. Guests put on hard hats, hop into mine carts and head into the mine just as generations of miners did, often three generations of the men in one family. Tour guides are retired miners.
By 1770, Canyon de Chelly (de shay), was appearing on Anglo maps. The first scientific exploration took place in 1882 by James Stevenson of the Smithsonian Institution. But there were people in this wide canyon deep inside the Navajo Nation at least 3500 years before that, maybe longer.
One of the most famous structures in the canyon, White House Ruin, was build by the people we call the Anazai. Between 1060 and 1275, they built a cliff house, with 21 rooms and a pueblo below it with 60, which they lived in until the end of the 13th century.
Moisture from washes running through the canyons allowed them to grow cotton, corn, squash and beans. Artifacts uncovered by Earl H. Morris in 1920 included cotton cloth, yucca sandals, feather blankets and a boxcar of these amazing artifacts was sent to the American Museum of Natural History. It was said that all were in ‘an amazing state of preservation.’
It was 150 years ago that Kit Carson and his troops came to the canyon to destroy the Navajo who had been waging war against the Utes and the Anglos in an ongoing battle for their land. Carson burned hogans, killed livestock in the middle of winter, starving the inhabitants. When the Navajos learned he didn’t want to kill to them, they surrendered and went on the long march to Fort Summer or Bosque Redondo, New Mexico.
There, the government attempted to turn 9000 Navajos into settled village-dwelling people. When the government realized they had failed and allowed the Navajos to return to their sacred land they had begun to see themselves as a single, united people.
You can hike to White House Ruin; the 1.25 mile trail descends 550 feet, cutting through a sampling of the vegetation that grows on the Reservation, from the pinyon-juniper woodland to the prickly pear and cottonwood stands.
P.S. Some of this information comes from “Canyon de Chelly,” published by the Western National Parks Association, Scott Thybony, copyright 1997.
The West is spotted with abandoned buildings holding the dreams of their owners as a legacy to the past. What congregation once built their church with hopes of a future in this majestic setting? And what happened?
I pictured southeastern Arizona when I painted All That is Left. There are still wide open spaces with mountains in the distance in that area. But guess what is coming? Vineyards! By my next trip south, this could be healthy vineyard and tasting facility. There are now 84 wineries in Arizona, up from one in 1973.
Bad Bear Saloon. Across the West we see remnants of buildings beside railroad tracks. Did the people disappear because the train passed them by? This town is waiting to be rediscovered. . .
Bad Bear Saloon received a second place in a 2012 juried exhibition of the West Valley Arts Council, Surprise, AZ. I was named the “Third Artist of Distinction,” when the “Bad Bear” was juried into Sundust Gallery’s, “Celebration,” exhibition, July 2011, Mesa. It remains one of my favorite paintings.
Cliff Palace, with 150 rooms, is the largest dwelling in Mesa Verde National Park, near Mancos, Colorado. It was built by the Ancestral Puebla’s around 550 A.D and abandoned around 1200 AD. The 600 cliff dwellings scattered throughout the national park were built with sandstone blocks the size of a loaf of bread. The inhabitants used tools made from stone, bones and wood. They had cotton garments, turquoise jewelry and painted pottery.
A friend said this was the most awe-inspiring space she had ever been in.
I too find it amazing, overwhelming and yes, mystical.
Hopi Tower, at the east end of the Grand Canyon National Park, was designed by Mary Colter, the architect/designer who created many beautiful hotels for the Fred Harvey company along the Santa Fe Railroad and in national parks. Built in 1932, its official name is Indian Watch Tower at Desert View and its design origins go back an Anasazi Watch Tower which would have been built between 1100 and 1300 C.E. in the desert southwest.
I love Mary Colter’s work. . .El Tovar and Bright Angel lodges at the Grand Canyon and now, the rennovated La Posada in Winslow. If you are traveling through Winslow, Arizona you should eat at the elegant and delicious restaurant at La Posada after standing on that famous Winslow, Arizona corner.