July 14, 2007

Colorado trip pix (Day 7)

Driving across Colorado--July 3, 2007

Indian lore:

  • We drove through the San Luis Valley in southern Colorado. Apparently it's a prime UFO location. According to a website:Not well-known to the outside world, this roughly 150-mile-by-45-mile-wide wishbone-shaped area, running north to south, is considered to be the world's largest alpine valley and may be one of America's most anomalous regions. The semi-arid desert valley floor, perched at an elevation of 7,600 feet, averages less than 6 inches of rainfall a year and is completely ringed by majestic mountains, many of which are over 13,000 feet high. This mysterious valley is hidden from the outside world in many ways.

    The San Luis Valley, like many other regions around the world, has always had its share of reported sightings and encounters going back as far as the early 1930s. Many of these alleged events were covered extensively by local and regional newspapers. Over the past 30 or so years there have been intense so-called "flap" periods of increased UFO sightings and of unusual animal deaths ("mutilations"), often with simultaneous periods reporting both phenomena.

    Native American myths

    Could some of the most intriguing clues we have in regards to aspects of the UFO and unusual animal death phenomena lie in the mythic tradition of this and possibly other unique bio-regions in the southwestern United States? We do know that 12 different Indian tribes used the San Luis Valley as a sacred hunting and vision-quest area. No Native American ventured into the valley during the winter months where it is not uncommon to find night-time temperatures at minus 20 degrees for weeks at a time. Although no Indians lived in the San Luis Valley full-time, the oldest known continuously inhabited dwellings in North America, the Taos Pueblo, are found at the extreme southern edge of the valley.

    Several Southwestern Indian tribes consider the San Luis Valley, most specifically the San Luis Lakes area, to be the location of the Sipapu or place of emergence. The Indians believe that they were led underground to safety at this location just before a cleansing period of earth changes. The Navajo version mentions our current time period as being the end of the fifth world. According to their tradition, they were warned of the upcoming cataclysms by sky katchinas (fireballs?) signaling them the time to travel to the Sipapu was at hand. Once underground, it is said, they were cared for by ant people for several generations until it was safe to re-emerge and re-populate the new world.

    Just southwest of the Sipapu stand the tallest collection of promontories in the valley, the Blanca Massif which is considered to be "the sacred mountain of the east" to most Southwestern tribes. This area is where Navajos say star people enter into our reality aboard flying seed-pods.
  • We passed through Pagosa Springs, an artsy town similar to Sedona or Taos. According to a website:Native Americans gathered in the Pagosa Springs area because of the abundance of wildlife and the Great Pagosa Hot Springs that were noted for their curative powers.

    Folks still gather at the Hot Springs, which continues to be celebrated for its therapeutic powers. The Utes called it Pagosah or healing waters and visitors from all over the world come to enjoy the hot baths.
  • Another website relates a story about Pagosa Springs that's a little hard to swallow:Albert Pfeiffer is best known for something that happened after he retired to his farm outside Del Norte. A war was breaking out between the Utes and the Navajos over the hot springs at Pagosa Springs. After several days of fighting, a group of Utes went to Pfeiffer and asked if he would help them. Pfeiffer traveled over the mountains to Pagosa Springs and worked out a deal with the Navajos: each tribe would put up one man to fight the other, the fight being to the death, the winner taking Pagosa Springs and the other tribe leaving peacefully. The Navajos sent out a large, well-seasoned young warrior. Pfeiffer (then in his mid 40's) volunteered to fight for the Utes. When the Utes accepted, Pfeiffer then required that the fight be fought in the nude. When the younger Navajo saw Pfeiffer's old and grizzled body covered with many battle scars, he was so intimidated that Pfeiffer killed him easily and ended the brewing war, with the Utes in possession of Pagosa Springs as they had been for so many years.
  • East of Durango, Highway 160 dips briefly into the Southern Ute reservation.

  • In Mancos we passed a roadside attraction called the Hogan Trading Post. As Indian Country Today explains: Work underway to sharpen the image of one of the best-known examples of Southwestern kitsch has raised questions among some members of the Ute Mountain Nation. Giant arrows that pierce the dirt near Mancos, Colo., are being painted and repaired. The 30-foot-long shafts, 10 telephone poles in a previous life, will be fixed up along with three, 25-foot plywood tipis at The Hogan trading post adjacent to U.S. Highway 160. "People view them as advertising gimmicks," said Terry Knight, assistant general manager for the tribe's farm and ranch enterprise. "There are certainly some members of the tribe who think it is an exploitative use of Indian culture, but I've never heard the leadership make a formal statement in opposition." Hampton Inn and Hampton Inn and Suites has made a point of preserving landmarks its customers pass on the road before bedding down. Mancos Mayor Greg Rath said, "If you're sending people out to Mancos you say, 'Watch out for the tipis and the arrows.' It's early Americana highway kitsch. Some people love it." Ricky Lightfoot, president of the Crow Canyon Archaeological Center, said the arrows are more tacky than insulting. "It's probably up there with Car Henge or other roadside attractions."Sorry I didn't take a photo of it, but it was growing dark and my girlfriend was getting antsy over too much stopping to take pictures. Alas.

  • Cortez is arguably the first town we visited that's part of Indian country. It's full of Indian names, motifs, and gift shops.
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