Tag Archives: Southwest

Acoma Pueblo: Unraveling the mystery of a stolen ceremonial shield

1 Aug

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

For most of a century, before the shield went missing, it lived in the Pueblo of Acoma in west-central New Mexico. Acoma is one of the state’s 19 pueblo tribes, with fewer than 5,000 members, half of whom live across four communities on the reservation. The oldest portion sits atop a mesa, which is believed to be one of the oldest continually inhabited sites on the continent — since at least 1100 A.D. by Western measures. It is known outside the tribe as Sky City, and it’s an important part of Acoma’s economy, drawing visitors year-round for its commanding appearance. It’s composed of adobe structures that crowd a risen plane, as if a pillar of earth had shot 367 feet into the air and brought the community with it. The shield lived in a family’s three-story home with six other shields, all tended to by a traditional cultural leader…

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In this rapaciously dry year, a quiet question grows louder: What are we doing here?

10 Aug

Northwest Iowa Center for Regional Studies

Four years ago, my fiancé, Colin, and I decided to move to New Mexico. We had been living in a secluded river valley in western Colorado, but both of us were venturing into self-employment and thought it’d be easier in a bigger town. So we rigged our pickup with a load the Beverly Hillbillies would have admired — furniture, lamps, buckets full of pottery glaze — and drove south. We crossed the Chama River, turned left into the Española Valley, and stopped at a Lotaburger for the cheap thrill of green chile on a fast-food cheeseburger. The burger was bad but the chile was hot, and I was happy. I’d waited my whole life to make this move.

So begins Cally Carswell’s fine essay on drought and a place–Santa Fe, New Mexico. You may read the rest of her High Country News piece here.

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