How can one express the social complexity and vitality of a town that no longer exists? Today, only about 500 people live along the Rio Ojo Caliente in northern New Mexico. Five hundred years ago, five Tewa villages sustained a population of 5,000 to 10,000 through a thriving agricultural technology. A cursory look at the area now reveals little, since the adobe homes of the once-thriving communities have long since weathered down to low mounds.
Yet children can still discover evidence of the ingenuity of these ancient peoples in adapting to the dry climate of the pinyon-juniper lands. Their terraced gardens covered with gravel mulch suggest practical approaches to living with nature harmoniously in an area of little water and sandy soils. As we become increasingly aware of the environmental effects of more recent technologies, we should consider carefully these ancient methods.