U.S. DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIORBUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT
She gave birth to me
From the wet smell of clay
Beneath the sky
When my eyes, they open
Sun-soaked cliffs of sand
White-tip blue mountains
Held me in their arms
And sang to my red blood
Songs of yellow flowers
On black mesas
And I sing
The American Southwest is the center of Ancestral Puebloan culture. Ancient people have left their traces throughout the area. You can find the evidence all around you in the backcountry. These are fragile places. Learn to visit with respect and care. A thousand years ago, these lands were filled with families, their homes, and communities.
Where did the people go, who used to live here? Well, for us Pueblo People, we are them. That is as certain as I'm sitting here. We are them. We have not gone away.
25 modern American Indian pueblos and tribes trace their histories to the Four Corners Region. Most people visit cultural sites in national parks, which are managed for many visitors. Some visitors seek more remote places. Ones where they can feel the presence of the ancestors in the quiet of the backcountry.
I think it's really clear that this place was loved, and that everything was done with really great care. It doesn't matter where you are from, you can still feel that here. And the way everything fits together exactly the way it should. And even as it falls apart as....It has a life just as people. But it deserves that same love and respect.
Whenever I come to old Pueblo sites, it's the beginning of emotions welling up about people....My people, my ancestors who used to live here and connections with them. There is no past. There is no present. There isn't a divide there. That's why when we are here we can greet the people who are here who have not been here for hundreds and hundreds of years. It's as if they are here right now and we can talk to them.
[Christian and Dawa Taylor]
-Can you see the house now?
I hope you'll get the same sense that I get when I visit these sites. Respect, harmony, peace, and knowing that this will stay here for other generations to come. This is what you call a "mata". "Mata", or "mano". This is what they used to grind the corn with. But it looks like it had broken off. See? So, the "mano" must have been pretty big. That's why it's soft on this side. See? It kind of goes out. But you have to leave it where you find it. Okay?
So that when other people, like when you grow up, your kids will come here. And when they come to this site, you'll see that. And besides, that "mano" belongs to those people that live here.
-A long time ago?
-A long time ago, right.
Stay on the trail. These sites are our footprints that we left behind. Not just footprints that we left behind, but also memories and ties back to where we had gone. And we still remember them in our ceremonies and songs.
[Earnest Vallo, Sr.]
The sites are very important to the Pueblos, because all the spiritual things that are there are all still alive very much.
This building here is my mother's house. The home always is a reminder of the heritage given to us. The structures are pretty much built the same way down here as you would up in the Four Corners area. Sometimes we use modern stuff, but the building with the sandstone is pretty much the same technique.
The building is just one piece of the site that you see there. There are many other....Part of the site, this whole area would be considered a site because the middan would come down the slope in which many of the artifacts that you see like pottery shards, you know, and broken pieces of "mano." Even the trees and plants that are around, they are an important part to that site. These structures have been around for many centuries, and a person can damage that century's worth of hard work by these ancestral people in just a matter of minutes.
This physical damage occurred in less than two years. The collective effect of many well-meaning people who were curious to look inside the room. Most people who visit archeological sites want to do the right thing, but sometimes they can do harm without knowing. The signs can be subtle. What looks like a pile of scattered rocks may be a tumbled down wall. You can easily destroy these special places by climbing on the walls or by riding your horses or bikes through them. If each visitor takes just a single piece of pottery, soon there will be nothing left. Even moving artifacts onto a rock, so that other's may see them, disturbs the ancestors, and changes the archaeology. Visit with joy and an open heart. And above all, visit with respect.
[Earnest Vallo, Sr.]
I ask your respect for the sites. It's coming from the bottom of my heart. Whether you are out there alone in the backcountry, or out there on a tour group, you ask permission, from the ancestral spirits, coming in. And when you do leave, just say, "Thank you for sharing your house today."
Leave your prayers here. Leave your spiritual consciousness here, but don't take anything with you. The only thing you can take is what will fill your heart, and that's all you need.
[Rose Simpson singing]
It's a song my great-grandma used to sing, and it reminds me of our love for their land. And the love for the land is enough to cry that this is our home. This is....This is our mother. This is the cliffs, and the rocks, and the trees, and the bushes, and the cactuses are what hold us as people, and make us stand tall. And it's such a strong connection that we would cry about it.