Aug 272005
Environmental victory at Red Paint Canyon
by Sherry Robinson

In the end, all the people who cared about Warm Springs and Red Paint Canyon — Apaches, ranchers, farmers and residents — spoke with one voice.

They said “no.”

Last week, the Division of Mining and Minerals turned down an application to drill in an area that’s both fragile and sacred.

mjh’s Blog: More About the History Around the Monticello Box

mjh’s Blog: Help Save A Special Place in New Mexico


 Posted by at 3:48 pm
Aug 242005

Arctic melt likely to worsen, scientists warn – Environment –

The rate of ice melting in the Arctic is increasing and a panel of researchers says it sees no natural process that is likely to change that trend.

Within a century the melting could lead to summertime ice-free ocean conditions not seen in the area in a million years, the group said Tuesday.

Melting of land-based glaciers could take much longer but could raise the sea levels, potentially affecting coastal regions worldwide.


 Posted by at 4:57 pm
Aug 242005

Q: Are the Chaco Canyon ruins related at all to those at Mesa Verde? EB

A: There are connections between Chaco and Mesa Verde. I’m not an anthropologist or historian. I can say that both were built by the Anasazi, sometimes known as Ancestral Puebloans. I believe the big construction at Mesa Verde started later than the big construction at Chaco, which was occupied for at least hundreds of years and had about a 200 year run of Great Houses (about 950 to 1150AD). People surely moved back and forth between the two locations (among many others throughout the Four Corners). Mesa Verde may have been occupied later than Chaco (into the 1300’s).



 Posted by at 1:43 pm
Aug 072005

ABQjournal: Local Biologists’ Vision of Restored Rio Grande Valley Taking Hold
By Tania Soussan
Journal Staff Writer

Cliff Crawford has been talking about a Rio Grande bosque made up of scattered groves of cottonwoods and willows separated by open, grassy savannas for years.

Now, with tree thinning and restoration projects gathering momentum and creating change in the bosque, Crawford’s vision seems attainable. …

There are other benefits of restoring a more open bosque, including making trees less vulnerable to disease and saving water.

“What we’re focused on here is ecosystem function,” Grogan said. “We’re trying to make the bosque more resilient.”

Stands of trees in the bosque now are typically 10 to 15 feet apart, but they should be 40 feet apart, said Yasmeen Najmi of the conservancy district.

Thinning out the trees and replanting young cottonwoods and shrubs to emphasize patchiness with different ages and species of natives is a priority.


 Posted by at 2:42 pm
Aug 072005

ABQjournal: Group Comes to Aid of Stranded or Injured Hikers in the Sandias
By Toby Smith
Journal Staff Writer

Chances are you won’t bump into an Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council volunteer unless you are in trouble. Big trouble.

Say you’re a hiker in the Sandia Mountains who wanders off course, slips and turns his ankle. Suddenly you’re stuck with a bum foot and no idea which way to go.

It’s getting late when your friends in town start to worry about you. That’s when the Albuquerque Mountain Rescue Council generally gets a telephone call, usually from the State Police.

Fifty years old this year, the AMRC is a wilderness and search and rescue team, one of several working in New Mexico.

The group got going in February 1955 when people were needed to recover and bring down bodies from the TWA airplane crash in the Sandias. …

“The Sandias are much more complex than they look from the city,” says Scherzinger, a Sandia Labs aerospace engineer. “They’re pretty big, and it’s easy for people to get lost up there.”

Albuquerque Mountain Rescue


 Posted by at 2:38 pm
Jul 312005

ABQjournal: Around New Mexico

State Buying Land To Protect Flower

The State Forestry Division is buying 116 acres of the Blue Hole Cienega, a wetland near Santa Rosa, to protect habitat for the rare Pecos sunflower.

The area has one of the few remaining large stands of the sunflower, which is listed as an endangered plant by the state and as threatened by the federal government.

The purchase — paid for with $75,000 each from a federal grant and state Department of Transportation money used to mitigate highway impacts — marks the first time the state has bought land to protect an endangered plant.


 Posted by at 2:57 pm
Jul 222005

ABQjournal: Internet Opens Door to N.M.’s Past By Sue Major Holmes, The Associated Press

[T]he state on Thursday unveiled a Web site — — to bring New Mexico’s people, places, events and stories out of the archives and into the Internet world. …

The site is designed so people can access information through portals marked story, time, place and people. …

The site currently spans from about A.D. 1100 to 2000, but Rael-Galvez wants it redesigned to start at what pueblo elders call “time immemorial” to include origin stories— whether those be stories elders have told through the generations or Oñate leading settlers up the Camino Real.

The story section “will explore what stories tell us about the past,” everything from diary entries to oral histories, the state historian said. It will contain a revolving library in which visitors can click on a word and hear it in languages ranging from Tewa to Hebrew to Spanish, illustrating New Mexico’s diversity and multilingual society.

The people section is largely biography but includes different perspectives, such as those of children or women or how people are identified by the outside community and how they see their own place in the community, Rael-Galvez said.

The theme of place centers on the idea that “wisdom sits in places,” he said.

That section has images and maps of places and a virtual exhibit of four northern New Mexico grants that was put together by media design students at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas. The section will eventually explore roads such as the famed Camino Rael or Route 66.


 Posted by at 2:39 pm
Jul 202005

Durango Herald Online
Archaeologists excavating clues of Ridges Basin
By Dale Rodebaugh
Herald Staff Writer

Fresh data indicate that the ancient inhabitants of Ridges Basin southwest of Durango were there for a much shorter time than previously thought, the archaeologist in charge of excavation said.

A team from SWCA Environmental Consultants is wrapping up four years of investigations this summer because the Animas-La Plata Project, a settlement of American Indian water-right claims, will leave the study area under water within a few years.

“Tree-ring analysis shows there were two distinct periods of occupation,” Jim Potter said on Monday during a tour of the Sacred Ridge, the most significant settlement. “There was a late Basketmaker II period from 200 to 400. After a long hiatus, the area was occupied from 750 to 800 at which time there was a very abrupt abandonment.”

Tree-ring analysis of wood found in pit houses indicates no wood later than the year 803, with intense use of the area in the period 775 to 800, Potter said.

Previous estimates of second-period occupation, which didn’t have the benefit of tree-ring analysis, pegged use of the area from 650 to 850. The earliest tree-ring evidence dates from the 300s.

Narrowing the period of occupation indicates that the basin wasn’t inhabited by a few people moving around, but a lot of people during a relatively short time, Potter said.

“We think that multiple ethnic groups, composing 500 to 1,000 people, lived in the area during the late 700s,” Potter said. “When they left at about 800, they probably dispersed in different directions.”

The inhabitants were probably different to the level of language, Potter said. They were certainly socially diverse, as evidenced by their architecture and how they buried their dead. Modern Puebloans such as the Zia, Acoma, Jemez and Laguna have ties to varying degrees with the inhabitants of Ridges Basin.

Eighty sites, including 72 pit structures, will have been excavated by the time the archaeological field season ends Sept. 30, Potter said. The Sacred Ridge, which overlooked wetlands, was the most populated site, occupied right up to the departure of the ancestral Puebloans.

Three years of data analysis will follow the conclusion of field work, Potter said. Finally, all artifacts, photographs, maps and written records will be housed at the Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores. All material will be available to researchers and the general public. The Southern Ute Indian Tribe and the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe are interested in the educational and archaeological aspects of the project.

Interpretation of findings is speculative at this point, Potter said, including the reasons the ancestral Puebloans abandoned the basin. Possibilities for their departure could have been environmental (a hard life at high elevation in a cool temperature) or social conflict (trauma evidenced in bones).

In addition to the chronology gleaned from analyzing tree rings, geological evidence indicates Ridges Basin was a very marshy environment, Potter said. Prehistorically, the basin contains a natural lake fed by what today is known as Basin Creek.

Obsidian artifacts from the Jemez Mountains in northern New Mexico and redware shards and vessels from today’s Utah were uncovered in Ridges Basin excavations. Their presence suggests trade connections with neighboring groups, Potter said.

Once excavation is done, archaeologists will have literally millions of artifacts (a single shard is an artifact) to analyze, Potter said. Projectile points, charred botanical matter (corn, wood, seeds and tobacco), bones and ceramics will be examined.

“We have the skeleton of what the Ridges Basin settlement looked like,” Potter said. “We’ll flesh it out in the next three years.”


 Posted by at 7:25 pm
Jul 162005

The Globe and Mail: B.C.’s Gwaii Haanas named top park

[I]n a survey of 55 national parks in the United States and Canada published in the July-August issue of National Geographic Traveler magazine[:]
No. 5. Chaco Culture National Historical Park, NEW MEXICO (Score: 72 out of 100)

The long, unpaved access road pleased panelists by keeping this archaeologically rich site untrampled. “Its remote location means Chaco Canyon remains a relatively genuine experience. It is still possible to envision the Anasazi life and find quiet moments of solitude.” Caveat: “Nearby town is incredibly littered.”


The survey ranked six Canadian parks in the top 16. The magazine credits Canada’s conservationist approach and relatively low visitation to its parks for the strong showing. …

Three hundred experts in sustainable tourism and park management evaluated the parks for the survey.

Destination Scorecard: National Parks @ National Geographic Traveler

No destination rated 90 or above (“unspoiled and likely to remain so”)….

#14 Mesa Verde National Park
COLORADO (Score: 63)

Panelists disagree on Mesa Verde’s condition, from “well-managed” and “marvelous interpretive walks” to “serious wildfire problems and damage; archaeological heritage in danger; reduced aesthetic appeal.” The gateway, Cortez, “has a true Western feel.”


Why Canada?

Of these 55 parks, only ten are Canadian, but eight of them score above average. Sixty percent make it into the top quarter of the scoring range, versus a paltry 22 percent for the U.S. What’s going on?

Obviously it helps to be northern. Parks with short seasons suffer less tourist trampling. All four surveyed Alaska parks did well, too. But there’s more to it. By law, Parks Canada must first protect the environment, whereas Congress demands the U.S. National Park Service protect nature while also promoting outdoor recreation, dual mandates that can conflict when too many park-lovers show up.

Last, says one U.S. panelist, “Canadians in general take their government’s role in preserving parks more seriously.” In short, they’ll spend some money. “U.S. parks are now forced to be more self-sufficient,” agrees a U.S. recreation ecologist, “whereas Canada has maintained better funding.” Apparently, you get what you pay for.


 Posted by at 3:30 pm
Jul 152005

Arizona Daily Sun-
Much more than doodling
Sun Staff Reporter

Northern Arizona University professor Kelley Hays-Gilpin looks at rock art in her book “Ambiguous Images: Gender and Rock Art,” which recently received the Society of American Archaeology book award. The book challenges the reader to set aside preconceived notions when interpreting images. …

Hays-Gilpin has spent a career trying to convince other archaeology scholars of rock art’s importance and to challenge popular interpretation. Hays-Gilpin began her career in anthropology as a ceramics analyst. Conveniently, some of the images used in pottery also are used in rock art.

“Symbols and meaning can transcend media,” she said. …

Many rock art images are tied to religious ceremonies. A one-meter image of a young woman giving birth at a place in northern Arizona could depict Changing Woman giving birth to the twin heroes of the Navajo creation story or it could be a fertility shrine, Hays-Gilpin said.

One of the important aspects of interpreting rock images is speaking with descendants of the people who might have made the images, she said.

She’s studying images at Chaco Canyon of people who are missing appendages. While such an image might appear to depict a violent scene, there are other interpretations, including the artist not finishing or the figures emerging from the rock. Given the extent of figures without appendages, it is less likely the artist did not finish, she said.

The area could be a separation between this world and the spirit world.

“That rock could be a surface veil out of this world and the spirit world … we can resolve this by talking to descendants,” she said.


 Posted by at 9:06 am
Jul 132005

A peek into the pueblo way of life |

Today, there are 19 pueblo communities located in New Mexico whose inhabitants speak dialects of three distinct language families.

Each pueblo operates under its own government and therefore sets its own guidelines and rules. …

Of the 19 statewide pueblos, the northern villages are the most accustomed to visitors, and are easily accessible from the major cities.

Tesuque, Pojoaque, Nambe, San Ildefonso, San Juan, and Santa Clara are all within 30 miles of Santa Fe. Taos and Picuris are two hours from Santa Fe and three hours from Albuquerque.

Early risers departing from Santa Fe can make a day trip to the two most famous pueblos, San Ildefonso and Taos, and still have time to explore nearby Bandelier National Monument to learn more about the ancient ancestors of the pueblo people.

New Mexico’s pueblos

The 19 pueblos of New Mexico are the oldest tribal communities in the United States, having descended from the ancestral Pueblo cultures that once inhabited Chaco Canyon, Mesa Verde, and Bandelier.

1. Acoma Pueblo, known as Sky City, was built on top of a sandstone mesa 357 feet high. Location: 60 miles west of Albuquerque on I-40 at exit 102 and 12 miles south on Indian Route 23, exit 108. Phone: (505) 552-6604.

2. Cochiti Pueblo is known for storyteller figurines and ceremonial drums. Location: 22 miles south of Santa Fe on I-25 and another 14 miles north on N.M. 16 (between Albuquerque and Santa Fe). Phone: (505) 465-2244.

3. Isleta Pueblo was established in the 1300s. Location: in the Rio Grande Valley, 13 miles south of Albuquerque and five minutes from I-25 via exit 215. Phone: (505) 869-3111.

4. Jemez Pueblo is located among red sandstone mesas. Location: 27 miles northwest of Bernalillo on N.M. 4. Phone: (505) 834-7235.

5. Laguna Pueblo has been occupied since at least 1300. Location: 45 miles west of Albuquerque off I-40 and 31 miles east of Grants. Phone: (505) 552-6654.

6. Nambe Pueblo, at the base of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, served as a cultural and religious center for the Pueblo people. Location: 18 miles north of Santa Fe off US 84/285 and N.M. 503. Phone: (505) 455-2036.

7. Picuris Pueblo features a museum of local beadwork, weaving, and pottery. Location: 24 miles southeast of Taos via N.M. 68, 518, and 75. Phone: (505) 587-2519.

8. Pojoaque Pueblo includes a cultural center and museum that displays Pueblo art and exhibits, hosts traditional Indian dances on weekends, and preserves the traditional arts of the Tewa-speaking pueblos. Location: 15 miles north of Santa Fe on US 84/285. Phone: (505) 455-5044.

9. San Felipe Pueblo, founded in 1706, is known for beautiful dancing. Location: 10 miles north of Bernalillo off I-25. Phone: (505) 867-3381.

10. San Ildefonso Pueblo. See story above.

11. San Juan Pueblo is home to the Oke-Oweenge Crafts Cooperative, which exhibits the art of the eight northern pueblos. Location: 25 miles north of Santa Fe on US 84/285 and five miles north of Española off N.M. 68. Phone: (505) 852-4400.

12. Sandia Pueblo got its name for the color of the steep mountains east of the pueblo, which Spanish explorers likened to watermelons, sandía in Spanish. Location: 12 miles north of Albuquerque off I-25. Phone: (505) 867-3317.

13. Santa Ana Pueblo is an agricultural community located on about 73,000 acres east and west of the Rio Grande. Location: less than two miles west of I-25, exit 242, 15 minutes north of Albuquerque near the intersection of US 550 and N.M. 528. Phone: (505) 867-3301.

14. Santa Clara Pueblo was established about 1550 when drought caused the residents of the nearby Puyé Cliff Dwellings to move here. Location: 1.5 miles south of Española off N.M. 30. Phone: (505) 753-7326.

15. Santo Domingo Pueblo is near the ancient Cerrillos turquoise mines, and its people have a history of making fine jewelry. Location: 25 miles south of Santa Fe, off I-25 at the Santo Domingo exit. Phone: (505) 465-2214.

16. Taos Pueblo. See story above.

17. Tesuque Pueblo may have stood on this site since AD 1200. Location: 10 miles north of Santa Fe on US 84/285. Phone: (505) 983-2667.

18. Zia Pueblo is situated atop a small mesa that offers a spectacular view of the surrounding areas. Location: 17 miles northwest of Bernalillo and eight miles northwest of Santa Ana Pueblo on US 550. Phone: (505) 867-3308.

19. Zuni Pueblo was thought by Spanish explorers to be one of the legendary Seven Golden Cities of Cíbola. Location: 35 miles south of Gallup on N.M. 53. Phone: (505) 782-7238.

Source: New Mexico Tourism Department

map showing 19 pueblos of New Mexico

New Mexico Tourism Department
3 Tribes & 19 Pueblos
Pueblos – Navajo Nation – Jicarilla and Mescalero Apache Nations


 Posted by at 8:14 pm
Jul 132005

Arizona Event: 56th Annual Navajo Festival

July 30-31, 2005 • Museum of Northern Arizona • 3101 N. Fort Valley Road

Where: Flagstaff, AZ — Artists, musicians, dancers, and food preparers will gather at the Museum of Northern Arizona’s 56th Annual Navajo Festival of Arts and Culture on Saturday and Sunday, July 30 and 31 to share in the weekend’s grand offering of Diné traditions. The central philosophy in Diné life is hozho, meaning everything the Navajo thinks of as good-harmony, beauty, blessedness, and balance.

For more information, go to or call 928/774-5213.


 Posted by at 8:09 pm
Jul 132005

ABQjournal: Signs of Otters Spark Debate By Felicia Fonseca, The Associated Press

River otters haven’t been seen in northern New Mexico since 1953.

That’s why University of New Mexico researcher Paul Polechla’s discovery of otter feces last fall on the banks of the San Juan River near the Colorado border was news to be celebrated. …

State officials, meanwhile, hope the possibility of spotting an otter at Navajo Lake State Park, where the droppings were found, will boost human visitors to one of New Mexico’s most popular campgrounds. …

The researchers said more analysis is needed to determine which otter subspecies left behind the scat. When that is determined, scientists will make a decision about how to continue.

One of the possibilities includes the Southwestern river otter, which Polechla says should be on the endangered species list. Nonnative or mixed breed otters also could be present, he said.

River otters are sleek animals usually brown in color with short legs, webbed feet and glossy, dense fur, Polechla said.

“Their fur is so highly regarded— in terms of durability, softness, insulation capacity— that it is regarded as the diamond of the fur world,” he said.

The otters, which travel along waterways, produce a litter once a year yielding between one and six kits.

Playfulness is their outstanding characteristic, said Melissa Savage, an ecologist with the New Mexico River Otter Working Group.

“They are very gregarious and social,” she said. …

Bill Dunn, a supervising biologist for the Game and Fish Department, … said public surveys have shown New Mexicans favor reintroduction in the upper Rio Grande, the Rio Chama and the Gila River.


 Posted by at 11:11 am