Day 7 Wednesday -Grants -- Acoma --
Casa Blanca -- Grants

On Wednesday [Damóo dóó tágíjí] morning ['abíní] we had an early breakfast [abínígo da'adánígíí] in Grants [Naatooh sik'ai'í] and started down I-40 in the direction of Albuquerque [Bee'eldííldahsinil]. We got our first view of Mount Taylor [Tsoodzi[] to our north [náhook-s] and the Malpais on both sides of the highway near Grants [Naatooh sik'ai'í]. For the Navajo, the hardened lava flows from Mount Taylor [Tsoodzi[] are the blood [di[] of the monster Yé'iitsoh who was slain by Changing Woman's twin sons, Monster Slayer [Naayéé' Neezghání] and Born for Water [Tó'bájíshchíní]. We drove for many miles along I-40 with the physical evidence of this battle on both sides of us!

At McCarty's we left the high speed travellers behind and took the road through Acoma country to the Acoma visitor center. We now had a much quieter drive, as well as the chance to stop shortly before reaching our destination to take in an overview of the landscape from the top of a mesa. The silence was a relief after driving on I-40, and the view was spectacular. Again just another average winter morning in the high country! We could see "Sky City" on its mesa top in the midst of a broad valley with the Enchanted Mesa beyond. We glided down the steep mesa slope and drove the last few miles to the visitor center and bought bus tickets for the tour of the old pueblo city. While we waited for the bus to leave, we walked from booth to booth outside to see the pottery for sale and visit with the potters. One of the things most strongly associated with Acoma is the incredible pottery made by the people of the pueblo. Their traditional pottery is exquisite with complex geometric designs painted with yucca brushes on extremely thin walled pots or stylized birds and animals painted on these same thin walled pots. There are also potters taking the old skills into new directions, producing square boxes, pyramids, owls and other new pottery styles.

Charmae Natseway --- Wilfred Garcia

Adrian Roy Keene - --- Mike and Jackie Torivio

The Lewis sisters: - Diane and Sharon Lewis, Carolyn Concho and Rebecca Lucario

The small bus took us on the five minute drive to the top of the mesa and left our group of 6 tourists with the guide for an hour within the village. It was a cold and blustery January morning and few of the tables placed outside of the houses were occupied. The mesa top was almost deserted. In fact, few people still live atop the mesa all year. They have moved to McCartys and Acomita where the amenities of life are more certainly provided. We were taken first to the San Esteban del Rey Mission, a massive adobe structure overlooking the valley and a small graveyard. The far side of the graveyard is supported by a rock wall that has held it up from collapse onto the valley floor for centuries. The interior of the mission was a complete surprise -- there were no seats anywhere! This and the high ceiling contributed to the feeling of great openness here. The stations of the cross were painted on the side walls; the confessional was in back, beside the doors. The altar was simple. A high window on the south side let in the winter light of the desert sun. The emptiness of the room seemed to make it an integral part of the surrounding landscape instead of something foreign imposed upon it.

When we went back outside, we again took in the view of the valley, looking east from the edge of the mesa. We noticed that several of the tables were now occupied by women setting out their pots for sale. Our presence had been noted. It was certainly no day to sit outside and wait for customers! At the first table there were several small seed pots having intricate geometric designs. I had great difficulty making a decision but finally decided upon the pot with the Kokopelli playing his flute and dancing up the side. After looking at the other tables, both Lori and I decided that I had made the right decision. I also noticed a man selling piñon nuts from a booth near his house and obtained a pound for use during the rest of our trip.

We walked around the rest of the pueblo, looking at handmade Christmas ornaments leftover from the holiday season and other small pots. Near the end of our tour we came to a house where, despite the weather, two small children were playing outside in shorts. We could not pass up the offerings at this table; on this cold and windy January morning, freshly made pineapple cookies were available at an outdoor table in front of a stone house on top of a mesa in the middle of a desert valley. This monument to the flexibility of the human race was irresistible. Lori and I bought a small ziplock bag to share and they were delicious.

Just as we were walking on, a man in a light jacket walked out of one of the houses, put his arm around Lori's shoulder and asked how she could be so cold while wearing that much down. He looked at her red ears and commented that they looked like they might fall off!

At this point the tour was over. We had a choice of climbing down the path down the side of the mesa or going back to a heated room and waiting for the bus. Lori and one other member of our group elected to climb down the path. Those of us carrying pottery elected to wait for the bus with the guide and two others. As we rode down, we passed Lori and her friend only 5 minutes away from the visitor center (by foot).

At the visitor center, we toured the museum, which had many artifacts of the last century of life at Acoma, and visited their shop. Strangely, they did not carry much pottery from the local potters there, perhaps not to compete with the booths outside. They did have the largest and most varied supply of T-shirts that I had seen. I chose T-shirts for all of the grandchildren and picked up a few special ones for myself.


We had managed to spend most of the morning already, and it was getting close to time to meet Lori's sister, Royallynn, in Casa Blanca. We drove the 12 miles back to I-40 and the Casa Blanca Shopping Center, near the Laguna Pueblo. When we got there, we saw that Lori's sister had not yet arrived so we went into the grocery/general store. I headed immediately for the small crafts shop in the rear where I had once found a miniature kachina from my favorite carver, JJ. There were none there today and no ribbon shirts in my size. However, here was a large supply of fireworks in stock. Lori and I were trying to decide whether to buy the large Gemini assortment pack to leave as an anonymous gift for the Gemini Project, when Royallynn walked up. We broke off our consideration of the fireworks to allow Lori and Royallynn to embrace and assess the changes in each other since they last saw each other. We went outside where I talked them into a visit to the Blue-Eyed Indian Bookstore before we went our separate ways. The Blue-Eyed Indian Bookstore is owned and operated by Lee Marmon, the Laguna photographer who made the famous "White Man's Moccasins" photograph that can be found on posters, T-shirts and book covers. He is also the father of Leslie Marmon Silko, the Laguna author of poetry, short stories and novels, as well as co-author of a book of letters between the poet James Wright and herself.

The bookstore is split into two parts, one stuffed with books, mostly used, and the other a gallery of photographs, many of Laguna elders, taken by Lee Marmon. This shop also carries a substantial selection of literary cariacture T-shirts, posters and contemporary Native American literature. He was temporarily out of Neon Pow-Wow but I bought a poster for a conference on Women Who Rode Away New Lives in the Southwest - featuring a photograph of Georgia O'Keefe seated on the back of a motorcycle ready to ride off into the desert. While we were there a young father and his two children picked out some "new" books to take home to read after active debate over the merits of various books.

We still had to move Lori's belongings (all that laundry!) to Royallynn's truck and to decide what of her recent collections she would leave with me to continue their travels and what to take to Albuquerque. She gave Royallynn her choice of the petrified wood pieces which she had collected in the mudhills near Nazlini. Lori lost her cottonwood leaf shaker that rattled so beautifully in the breeze at White House Ruins in Canyon de Chelly when Royallynn fell in love with it. Since the sand collection needed more extensive examination, it also moved to the truck.

While the examination of artifacts and decision making was going on, the Cookie Monster was causing another stir in the parking lot. Lots of smiles and waves were exchanged with shy Acoma and Laguna children and their mothers. The truck headed east [ha'a'aah] past the Laguna pueblo to Albuquerque. I drove the van west ['e'e'aah] again on I-40 past Grants [Naatooh sik'ai'í] to Thoreau [Dló'áyázhí]. There I turned off the interstate and toured the town of Thoreau [Dló'áyázhí] looking for the Navajo Crafts Cooperative there. Unfortunately it was closed when I found it, so I headed north over the cuestra of Mesa Verde sandstone to Crownpoint [T'iists'óóz nídeeshgiizh] to check out the Navajo run community college, Crownpoint Institute of Technology, which had advertised some job openings in the Navajo Times. There are several large old stone homes, showing classic Morman [Gáamalii] stonework, under the shade of large, old cottonwood trees not far from the new campus. I spent some time driving around the town, cruising the shopping mall and the back streets. I had hoped to see some sign that I had happened on one of the monthly Crownpoint [T'iists'óóz nídeeshgiizh] rug auctions, but I saw none. I decided that it was time to move on and turned on to the road out of town. I hoped to end today by finding the trail to the bat [jaa'abaní] cave in plenty of time to make the hike tonight, so I had to plan my time carefully, an uncharacteristic mode of travel for me.

bat flying

After driving for 15 minutes or so away from Crownpoint [T'iists'óóz nídeeshgiizh] I began to feel that I might not be on the right road. This was not a part of the Navajo reservation that I knew well. I had thought that I would be traveling north toward Bisti, but the landscape did not appear to be trending toward those land forms. I dismissed my concerns at first because these were not roads that were a part of my soul as are the roads in the Kayenta [Todineeshzhee] -- Chinle[Ch'ínlí] - Round Rock [Bis doot['izh deez'áhí] area have become.

I began to pass towns that I knew I should not be passing - Standing Rock [Tsé'íí'áhí], Coyote Canyon [M['iitééhyít2izhí] - so I pulled over and got out my atlas of New Mexico [Yootó Hahoodzo]. (It had not been easy to reach for consultation because I had not yet reorganized the car [chidí] for convenient use as the sole occupant.) The map confirmed the fact that the sun would still set in the west ['e'e'aah], the earth had not quietly tilted on its axis today. I had forgotten that Crownpoint [T'iists'óóz nídeeshgiizh] lay at the intersection of two main roads in northwestern New Mexico [Yootó Hahoodzo], and I had gotten on the "other" road by mistake. It was now late enough that my only choice was to return to Crownpoint [T'iists'óóz nídeeshgiizh], drive back to Thoreau [Dló'áyázhí], take I-40 to Grants [Naatooh sik'ai'í] and NM 53 south to the trailhead. With any luck, I would have time to take the hike.

So, with the sun dropping at my back, I retraced my steps. At Grants [Naatooh sik'ai'í] I turned my back on Mount Taylor [Tsoodzi[] and drove along the edge of the Malpais to the El Calderon trailhead. I grabbed my hiking stick and headed out rapidly over the lava field, past Junction Cave and between the two fractured lava tubes, across the high desert valley in the twilight to a hoped for rendevous with the bat [jaa'abaní] colony as they left their cave for a night of food gathering. I made it to the cave entrance in plenty of time to read the small marker placed there. The bats [jaa'abaní] are only summer [sh3 sh98go] residents of this cave, spending their winters [haigo] in Mexico! Of course, this made sense in retrospect, and it is hard to begrudge a beautiful evening hike across the high desert in utterly splendid isolation. So feeling only slightly stupid, I took a more leisurely hike back to the van, remembering the pleasure and excitement of taking this same hike with Steve, Suzan and 8 year old Ryan on a spectacular August [Bini'anit'22ts'ózí] night, surrounded by thunderstorms, sure we would be soaked any minute, and watching thousands of bats [jaa'abaní] spiral out of the cave and spread across the New Mexico [Yootó Hahoodzo] landscape. After returning to the parking lot that night, we stayed so Ryan could watch the spectacular lightning show for at least another half hour. When you get to see the gods come down from the heavens for your first time, special dispensation is easy to obtain.

This night I returned to Grants [Naatooh sik'ai'í] to get a good night's sleep for tomorrow I want to hike in the De-Na-Zin and Bisti Wilderness area. Darkness having already preceded me into Grants [Naatooh sik'ai'í], a quick motel search, a spartan motel tonight, and a fast dinner were sought. Since there was no one to talk with for the next few days, my poetry books would return as my companions at meals and before sleep. I will begin with my first serious reading of Luci Tapahonso's new book of poems Sáanii Dahataa[ The Women Are Singing. My special poem for this evening is They are Silent and Quick.

Recommend this website to a friend!

Navajo Spaceships, Star Mountain and Rez Memories, An Online Writing Journal, Prose & Poetry by John Rustywire, Navajo

An aerial view of the Acoma Pueblo from the National Aerial Photography Program of the USGS is available.

An early photograph, a cyanotype, of Acoma Pueblo, may be seen at the Detroit Publishing Company exhibit in the American Memory section of the Library of Congress WWW site.

A ca. 1920 picture of the Mission of San Estevan at Acoma, before its restoration can be found at the Special Collections and Archives Department at Cline Library, Northern Arizona University.

A ca. 1920 picture of the Acoma Pueblo is also found in the Cline Library Archives.

A dozen photographs of Laguna Pueblo, ca. 1920, are found in the Special Collections and Archives Department at Cline Library, Northern Arizona University.

A page on bats and bat houses is available from Jim Buzbee.

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Acoma: People of the White Rock, H. L. James, Schiffer Publishing.
Pueblo Nations: Eight Centuries of Pueblo Indian History, Joe Sando (Jemez Pueblo),
Clear Light. (Hardcover)
Pueblo Profiles: Cultural Identity Through Centuries of Change, Joe Sando (Jemez Pueblo),
Clear Light. (Hardcover )
Kachina Tales From the Indian Pueblos, Gene Meany Hodge, Sunstone Press.
The Pueblo, Alfonso Ortiz (San Juan Pueblo), Chelsea House.
American Indians' Kitchen-Table Stories: Contemporary Conversations With Cherokee, Sioux, Hopi, Osage, Navajo, Zuni, and Members of Other Nations
Keith Cunningham, August House.
The People, Stephen Trimble, School of American Research Press.
Pueblo Indians of North America, Edward P. Dozier, Waveland Press.
Sacred Ways of Knowledge: Sources of Life, Anna Lee Walters, Peggy V. Beck,
Navajo Community College Press.
The Main Stalk : A Synthesis of Navajo Philosophy, John R. Farella, Univ of Arizona Press.
Earth Is My Mother, Sky Is My Father : Space, Time, and Astronomy in Navajo Sandpainting,
Trudy Griffin-Pierce, Univ of New Mexico Press.
Holy Wind in Navajo Philosophy, James Kale McNeley, Univ of Arizona Press.
Dine Bahane : The Navajo Creation Story, Paul Zolbrod (Translator), Univ of New Mexico Press.
In the Beginning: The Navajo Genesis, Jerrold E. Levy, Univ. California Press, (Hardcover)
Language and Art in the Navajo Universe, Gary Witherspoon, Univ. Michigan Press
Navaho Folk Tales, Franc Johnson Newcomb, Paul Zolbrod , Univ. New Mexico Press
Navaho Legends, Washington Matthews (Editor), Grace McNeley, Univ. Utah Press
Sacred Twins and Spider Woman and Other Navajo Creation Stories (Cassette),
Geri Keams (Navajo), Caedmon Audio Cassette
Marietta Wetherill : Life With the Navajos in Chaco Canyon, Marietta Wetherill, Kathryn Gabriel (Editor), Univ. New Mexico Press.
Wide Ruins: Memories from a Navajo Trading Post, Sallie Wagner, Univ. New Mexico Press.
Tales from Wide Ruins: Jean and Bill Cousins, Traders, Jean Cousins, Mary Tate Engels (Editor), Texas Tech. Univ. Press.
The Navajo Atlas: Environments, Resources, Peoples, and History of the Diné Bikeyah,
James M. Goodman, Mary E. Goodman, Univ. Oklahoma Press
From the Glittering World: A Navajo Story, Irvin Morris (Navajo), Univ. Oklahoma Press
Molded in the Image of Changing Woman: Navajo Views on the Human Body and Personhood,
Maureen Trudelle Schwarz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
The Nightway: A History and a History of Documentation of a Navajo Ceremonial,
James C. Faris, Univ. New Mexico Press
Navajo Medicine Man Sandpaintings, Gladys Amanda Reichard, Dover Pub.
Sandpaintings of the Navajo Shooting Chant, Franc J. Newcomb, Gladys A. Reichard, Dover Pub.
Spider Woman: A Story of Navajo Weavers and Chanters , Gladys Amanda Reichard, Univ.
New Mexico Press
Through Navajo Eyes: An Exploration in Film Communication and Anthropology,
Sol Worth, John Adair, Univ. New Mexico Press
Time Among the Navajo: Traditional Lifeways on the Reservation,
Kathy Eckles Hooker, Helen Lau Running (Photographer) , Museum of New Mexico Press
Navajo Sacred Places, Klara Bonsack Kelley, Harris Francis, Indiana Univ Press.
Hiking Ruins Seldom Seen, Dave Wilson, Falcon, Pub.
Ancient Ruins of the Southwest: An Archaeological Guide,
David Grant Noble, Northland Pub.
Native Roads : The Complete Motoring Guide to the Navajo and Hopi Nations,
Fran Kosik, George Hardeen, Creative Solutions Pub.
A Guide Book to Highway 66, Jack D. Rittenhouse, Univ of New Mexico Press.
Basin and Range, John McPhee, Noonday Press.
Navajo Country : A Geology and Natural History of the Four Corners Region, Donald Baars, Univ. New Mexico Press.
The Colorado Plateau : A Geologic History, Donald L. Baars, Univ of New Mexico Press.
Roadside Geology of New Mexico, Halka Chronic, Mountain Press.
New Mexico Atlas & Gazetteer, DeLorme Publishing.
El Malpais, Mt. Taylor, and the Zuni Mountains : A Hiking Guide and History,
Sherry Robinson, Univ. of New Mexico Press.
The New Mexico Guide, Charles L. Cadieux, Fulcrum Publishing.
Trading Post Guidebook, Patrick Eddington & Susan Makov, Northland Publishing.
Wild Plants of the Pueblo Province, William Dunmire & Gail D. Tierney,
Museum of New Mexico Press. (Hardcover)
Wild Plants and Native Peoples of the Four Corners, William Dunmire & Gail D. Tierney,
Museum of New Mexico Press.
Creatures, Critters and Crawlers of the Southwest, April Kopp, Univ. of New Mexico Press.

Books by Luci Tapahonso

A Breeze Swept Through, Univ. New Mexico Press.
Sáanii Dahataal: The Women Are Singing, Univ. Arizona Press.
Blue Horses Rush In, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
          Children's Books
Navajo ABC: A Diné Alphabet Book, Eleanor Schick (Illustrator), Aladdin. (Hardcover)
Songs of Shiprock Fair, Anthony Chee Emerson (Illustrator), Kiva Pub.

Books on Native American Pottery

Acoma & Laguna Pottery, Rick Dillingham, School of American Research Press.
Art of Clay, Lee M. Cohen, Clear Light.
Art of the Hopi, Jerry and Lois Jacka, Northland. (Hardcover)
Collections of Southwest Pottery: Candlesticks to Canteens, Frogs to Figurines,
Allan Hayes & John Blom, Northland.
Dialogues With Zuni Potters, Milford Nahohai, Elisa Phelps, Zuni A:Shiwi Pub. (Hardcover)
Fourteen Families in Pueblo Pottery, Rick Dillingham, Univ. of New Mexico Press.
Hopi Pottery Symbols, Alex Patterson, Alexander M. Stephen (Illustrator), Johnson Books.
Indian Pottery , Toni Roller, Ted Roller (Illustrator), Sunstone Press.
Legacy: The Indian Art Collection at the School of American Research,
Duane Anderson (Editor), School of American Research Press. (Hardcover)
Pottery by American Indian Women
The Legacy of Generations
, Susan Peterson, Abbeville Press.
Pueblo Pottery Families: Acoma, Cochiti, Hopi, Isleta, Jemez, Laguna, Nambe, Picuris, Pojoaque, San Ildefonso, San Juan, Santa Clara, Santo Domingo), Lillian Peaster, Schiffer Pub.
Santa Clara Pottery Today, Betty Lefree, Univ. New Mexico Press.
Southwestern Pottery: Anasazi to Zuni, Allan Hayes & John Blom, Northland.
Talking With the Clay: The Art of Pueblo Pottery, Stephen Trimble, School of American Research Press.

Books on Kachinas

Art of the Hopi, Jerry and Lois Jacka, Northland. (Hardcover)
Clowns of the Hopi: Tradition Keepers and Delight Makers, Barton Wright, Northland.
Following the Sun and Moon: Hopi Kachini Tradition , Alph H. Secakuku, Northland.
Hopi Kachina Dolls With a Key to Their Identification, Harold S. Colton, Univ. New Mexico Press.
Hopi Kachinas: The Complete Guide to Collecting Kachina Dolls, Barton Wright, Northland.
Hopi Kachinas: A Postcard Colleciton, Cliff Bahnimptewa (Illustrator), Northland.
Hopi Katcinas, Jesse Walter Fewkes, Dover Pubs.
Kachinas: Spirit Beings of the Hopi, Neil David Sr. (Illustrator), J. Brent Ricks, Avanyu Pub.
Kachinas: A Hopi Artist's Documentary, Barton Wright, Cliff Bahnimptewa (Illustrator), Northland.
Kachinas: A Selected Bibliography , Marcia Muth, Sunstone Press.
Kachina Dolls: The Art of Hopi Carvers, Helga Teiwes, Univ. Arizona Press.
Find more books on the New Mexico Pueblos.

See the new Desert Places Series from the University of Arizona.

For more books on Native American topics, visit the book archive at the Index of Native American Resources on the Internet.
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Visit The Sonoran Desert 5000 square miles of silence.

© 1994 - 2003 Karen M. Strom

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