PREVIOUS YEARS GALLERYS AVAILABLE ON SOUTHWESTPHOTOBANK.COM
RIDERS OFTEN FELT CHALLENGED BY LIVESTOCK OR GRAVITY TO STAY ON THEIR RIDE
PHOTOGRAPHY of the SOUTH WEST by PK WEIS
PREVIOUS YEARS GALLERYS AVAILABLE ON SOUTHWESTPHOTOBANK.COM
RIDERS OFTEN FELT CHALLENGED BY LIVESTOCK OR GRAVITY TO STAY ON THEIR RIDE
The 45th President Donald Trump has brightened his Oval Office with new gold curtains and he is working hard pushing paper behind the Resolute Desk. President Trump said “a nation without borders is not a nation. Beginning today America gets it borders back.” The President’s first 100 days will have a honeymoon period where he will be allowed to accomplish almost anything he wants…President Trump wants a wall, “a wonderful wall” on which he can place his name. Trump believes he can crush “the crisis on America’s Southern Border”, for just $9 million a mile.
While public polling showed that 47 percent of Arizona residents think the wall proposal is a “waste of money,” Trump is pressing ahead on building a “great wall” the discussion has grown and lots of folks have weighed in with their point of views. A couple of high-ranking Border Patrol supervisors have said independently, that they need to see what is coming and another said they need two walls so they can defend the second wall, patrolling between them. Others will say, it is a great idea if you want to sell 19’ ladders!
Many interesting ideas, some find the 14 century solution unimaginative, why spend billions just to keep folks out when we could change life as we know it along the US-Mexico Border. For others, the word “wall”, means drones and fences. Either way, it won’t be a “great” wall, even if it covered the entire American land mass, it would only span 2,000 miles, the Great Wall of China covers 5,501 miles by one count and 13,171 if you include trenches, hills, other natural barriers. Either way the efforts of the Ming Dynasty dwarfs the Big Guys plan for the U.S.-Mexico and some critics say this is a “14th Century solution” when a 22nd Century answer is needed, we need today’s technology to make a really “great” wall!
The promised great Wall of the 2016 Election was designed to keep out the criminals, drug dealers and rapists and will fast become a gauge of President’s Trump’s veracity. Some cement salesmen have contacted the “DON” and told him, they are able and ready to go go go ! Their version of the Great Wall of Trump, will cost you and me between $15-25, other say $40 Billion, and will require just 250,000 truckloads of cement.
President Trump has insisted his “great, great wall” will be paid for by Mexico. But when Trump met Enrique Peña Nieto, parachuting into Mexic0 City during the election, the Mexican President emphasized his country would not pay for the 1000 mile long, forty foot high abomination and El Jefe’ took to Twitter to make sure everyone knew it and continues to say Mexico will never pay for such an insult to their country.
For year, residents along the southern border have lived with 650 miles of 18 foot metal fences supplemented with traffic barriers that stretched out from Texas, across New Mexico, into Arizona and ending on the California coast.
During the election Trump received a big endorsement from the Border Patrol union because of his ideas on immigration and homeland security. Chris Cabrera, a border patrol agent and vice president of the local National Border Patrol Council. says the idea of building a bigger wall without increased manpower and technology, is ill-informed, he said.
“If you’re in the business of selling ladders, it’s a good idea,” Cabrera said. “If you build a bigger wall, they’re going to come with bigger ladders.” He added: “If they’re thinking of putting up a wall as a be-all, end-all … they’re looking in the wrong place.”
A fence may seem less grandiose than a wall, but it’s more practical. If the wall is opaque, agents can’t see who’s trying to cross. More importantly, they can’t identify potential threats.
In the days before the 2016 election, The Huffington Post took a tour of the border around Nogales, Arizona, with John Lawson, a veteran Border Patrol agent. Lawson said when he started out, the primitive fence was opaque. That was a liability for agents, and sometimes a hazard. In some instances, he said, attackers would scale the wall and try to drop cinder blocks on the agents’ vehicles as they passed below. “You need to make a fence you can see through,” Lawson said.
Ranking Border Patrol Agents have said a wall will not work, because you can only protect one side of it. They say you need two walls, one to protect the other, so I can see the fencing continuing to protect the “Great Wall”, conceding more of the U.S. to battle the hordes from the South. When the Berlin Wall was torn down 25 years ago, says Elisabeth Vallet, of Quebec University, there were 16 border fences around the world. The United Kingdom’s Daily Mail has pointed out Globalization is supposed to tear down barriers, but security fears and the refusal to help migrants and refugees have built 65 walls today, which are either completed or under construction.
‘You can’t dismiss that illusion, it’s important to people, but they provide the sense of security, not real security.’ Even the fearsome Berlin Wall with its trigger-happy sentries still leaked thousands of refugees even in its most forbidding years. Supporters of walls say a few leaks are better than a flood. But, author Di Cintio says consider the psychological price.
He points out Southern Arizona’s Tohono O’odham tribe, whose elders started to die off in apparent grief when the Mexican border fence cut them off from their ceremonial sites. The Tohono story suggests ‘wall disease’ diagnosed by Berlin psychologist Dietfried Muller-Hegemann in the 1970s after he found heightened levels of depression, alcoholism and domestic abuse among those living in the shadow of the barricade. Di Cintio also talked to Bangladeshi farmers suddenly cut off from their neighbors when India erected a simple barbed-wire fence between them. Within a few months, he said, they had started expressing distrust and dislike for ‘those people’ on the other side.
This March 29th, 2010 memorial service for long-time Douglas, Arizona area rancher Robert Krentz who was found about 1,000 feet from where the shooting occurred, dead in his ATV. The ATV still had its lights on and the engine running. There were spin out marks in the dirt, leading investigators to believe that he was trying to get away from the shooter. Investigators believe the shooter was headed south toward the border after the encounter. Law enforcement tracked a single set of footprints — believed to be the shooter’s — for 20 miles to the U.S.-Mexico border.
One great idea suggested networking solar cells on the wall to the power grid and producing enough electric power to fuel all the Border Cities from Tucson, Phoenix, to Mexicali and to run desalination plants in San Diego. Another suggests building a border interstate, exit North to the U.S or exit South to Mexico, solar cells would fuel solar chargers, solar light rail it would be a U.S-Mexico “Panama Canal”, moving people and trade across the entire continent
Technological advances such as ground radar to detect movement, hundreds of high-tech cameras with night-vision lenses and drones flying overhead have drastically transformed border security and now a Bristol County sheriff in New England wants to send a 10 man chain gang to help build the Wall. The sheriff says other county mounties want to throw in with him and get the job done. I would be afraid the chain-gang might disappear one day through a hole in the fence, leaving their guard, tied up with the TV control back at the motel.
Sheriff Thomas Hodgson said however he could “think of no other project that would have such a positive impact on our inmates and our country than building this wall. “Aside from learning and perfecting construction skills, the symbolism of these inmates building a wall to prevent crime in communities around the country, and to preserve jobs and work opportunities for them and other Americans upon release can be very powerful,” he said.
Instead of finding new reasons to hate our neighbors, I suggest $40 Billion allows us to build anything under the sun and we should find new reasons for working with Mexico to build a better world for citizens of both countries. My dream is one day, the bulldozing of critical animal habitat along the U.S.-MEXICO Border might be used as the first step in building a Bi-National BorderLand Highway with 10-12 lanes patrolled by Mexican Police to the south and by the U.S. to the north. Using the $40 plus billion Homeland Security budget would build a solar powered light rail system, perhaps a subway train built beneath of the roadway, wi-fi, driverless-car lanes, solar-powered electric car recharging systems, propane and gasoline and diesel in island stations featuring restaurants, motels and the Mexican rescue teams the Green Angels would be everywhere they are needed. It would move thousands of people, families, buses and trucks and it would be built by companies and workers from both countries and it would represent the best that Mexico and the U.S. have to offer. It could change the equation for both Worlds, empowering both countries to greatness working together to make a better world.
Yes, that would be very expensive. But it is something Mexico might actually support and offer to partner with the U.S.. There would be places the highway would plot out on the landscape better than actually along the U.S.-Mexico Border, so some flexibility may be required. We might have to give Mexico some of our land in exchange for some of Mexico. I was thinking it could be helpful to both nations, it would be a huge windfall for Arizona, if the U.S. partnered with Mexico, at Puerto Penasco, making it an international port with U.S. Customs and a straight route from seaports on the Gulf of California to the American Heartland. Perhaps Arizona’s Altar Valley, which today is the one main entrance into the U.S., for Mexican and South American illegal crossers, would fall into U.S. hands. Who would be better suited to clean up that nest of vipers. Drug cartels own and operate those small communities butting up against the U.S., without Mexico’s corruption to shore them up. The Border rip-off gangs, smugglers and crossers would have no base of operations. That land is also part of the American Indian Nation of the Tohono O’odham people whose territorial lands were split in two by the border, this would make them whole again.
Yes, I can see the argument that this is madness. But then I read Poet, novelist and environmentalist Homero Aridjis idea of “building solar plants along vast stretches of the almost 2,000-mile U.S.-Mexico border on the Mexican side, a new high-voltage direct-current (HVDC) grid could be set up to transmit energy efficiently from that long, snaking array to population centers along the border. Cities that could immediately benefit include San Diego, Tijuana, Mexicali, Tucson, Phoenix, El Paso, Ciudad Juarez, San Antonio and Monterrey, Aridjis writes suggesting “a Border of Solar Panels.” If one were to construct the equivalent of a strip of arrays south of the U.S.-Mexico border, wider in some areas and narrower in others, with a wide berth allowed for populated areas and stretches of rugged terrain, sufficient energy might be produced to also supply Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Albuquerque, Dallas and Houston. For the U.S. cities, it would be a way to obtain cheaper and cleaner energy. In Mexico, the solar border would create a New Deal-like source of high-tech construction and technology jobs all along the border, which could absorb a significant number of would-be migrant workers on their way to cross illegally into the U.S..
What would we give to Mexico? Why not parts of Texas, south of the Alamo, of course, but enough to insure everyone gets a fair shake. Advertising for tourism to visit Texas, say “it’s like a whole other country.” Texas has been saying for years they would not mind seceding from the U.S. and this would give everyone a shot at a better way of life.
New York Rep. Chris Collins said that American taxpayers will front the cost for the wall but that he was confident Trump could negotiate getting the money back from Mexico.
Of the 1.1 million farm workers in the U.S., 71 percent are foreign-born, according to the U.S. Department of Labor. Nearly half are illegal. Roughly 325,000 workers in California do the back breaking jobs that farmers say nobody else will do, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Manuel Cunha Jr., president of the Nisei Farmers League farming association, estimates 85 percent of California farm workers live in the United States illegally.
Farmers for years have scrambled under a shrinking labor pool. Mexico’s improving economy has slowed the flow of migrant workers. The dangerous border, controlled by drug cartels and human traffickers, keeps away others. The Department of Homeland Security’s says the total undocumented population peaked at 12 million in 2008, and has fallen since then. The number of apprehensions at the border is at its lowest since 1973, according to the Pew Research Center, the overall flow of Mexican immigrants is the smallest since the 1990s.
A review by The New York Times of thousands of court records and internal agency documents showed that over the last 10 years, 200 employees and contract workers of the Department of Homeland Security have taken nearly $15 million in bribes while being paid to protect the nation’s borders and enforce immigration laws. These employees have looked the other way as tons of drugs and thousands of undocumented immigrants were smuggled into the United States, the records show. They have illegally sold green cards and other immigration documents, have entered law enforcement databases and given sensitive information to drug cartels. Records show that the bribing of Homeland Security employees persists. In 2016, 15 were arrested, convicted of or sentenced on charges of bribery.
One of Arizona’s Crown Jewels has been tapped to be the next American National Park, the hoodoo paradise, of the Chiricahua National Monument has long been one of Southeastern Arizona’s best kept secrets…today that secret is out!
The Chiricahua National Monument is under consideration to become the 60th U.S. National Park. Few who visit would argue that the pinnacles, columns, spires and balanced rocks of this place ‘The Land of Standing-Up Rocks’, a befitting name given by the Apache to this extraordinary rock garden. In the late 1800s pioneers lobbied and persuaded Congress to protect this ‘Wonderland of Rocks’, and in 1924 the Chiricahua National Monument was created.
The proposal on the table makes the 12,000 acres monument, designated since 1928, a Federal Park featuring the eight mile Bonita Drive weaving through the volcanic features with hoodoos reaching toward the sky. It is a photographer wonderland from the moment the sun breaks the horizon and spotlights the amazing black ridge lines.
The Monument’s, Echo Canyon Loop Nature Trail, is perfect for short distance legs, folks who want to stretch their legs after a long drive but don’t want to break out the water bottles and packs—it is less than a mile long. Topside you greet the sun and wander the summit enjoying the different points of view. For some this is just the beginning, since this is the trailhead for the Heart-of-Rocks trail which is a downhill stroll for eleven miles back to the front entrance to the Monuments visitor’s center. A shuttle is available early Saturday mornings at the visitor center.
The SouthWest History that swirls around the twenty mile by forty mile Chiricahua’s enriches the choice and makes some wish for additional units to preserve spots like Fort Bowie, Johnny Ringo’s Gravesite or Skeleton Canyon where Geronimo surrendered, many of these on private land today. The dirt road over the Chiricahua Mountain summit, Pinery Canyon Road, allows access to Rustler’s Park and many ridge line hiking trails. Dropping down the mountain into Cave Creek and nearby Rodeo, New Mexico, the tourist is now in primetime bird-watching territory.
The Monument features the volcanic wastes from an immense explosion 27 million years ago and is now found 36 miles southeast of Wilcox, Arizona.
The eruption that shook thi region spewing thick white-hot ash from the Turkey Creek Caldrea later cooled and hardened into rhyolitic tuff, laying down almost two thousand feet of dark volcanic ash and pumice. The highly silic hoodoos eventually eroded into the natural features that we see today.
In 2008, the Chiricahua National Monument was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Faraway Ranch was once owned by immigrants, Neil and Emma Erickson from Sweden. In 1976, Congress decided to further preserve the land, designating 87% of the monument as Wilderness.
As well as the geological aspects of this park, the monument is host to a biological crossroads, a place where four different ecological regions all come together, the Chiricahua Mountains, the Sonoran and Chihuahuan deserts, the Rocky Mountains and Sierra Madre ranges all meet. The convergence of these four areas bring richness in both floral and faunal diversity, like the Rocky Mountain representatives such as the Ponderosa pine and Engelmann spruce co-exist beside the Soap tree yucca from the Chihuahuan desert. Stately Arizona sycamore and various types of oak dot the well-watered canyons. Apache pine grows here at the most northern end of the Sierra Madre range. Chihuahua pine is found, as are Douglas and White fir, Arizona cypress, Cane cholla, Prickly pear and several species of ferns, mushrooms, and fungi. There are five major drainages within the monument, several with intermittent creeks that support a mixture of deciduous and evergreen woodlands. The heavily forested canyons provide habitat for numerous wildlife, including coatimundi, white-tailed deer, javalina, and many species of birds; over three hundred bird species are found in the Chiricahua Mountains, some of whom have migrated north from Mexico.
The Chiricahua Mountains are part of a collection of forty neighboring mountain groups that lie between the Colorado Plateau and the Sierra Madre Occidental. Named the Madrean Archipelago, because it resembles an oceanic archipelago – a sea dotted with islands – only here the sea is hot desert grassland. These isolated mountain ranges are called ‘sky islands’.
Chances for the proposed Chiricahua National park, Tucson representative Martha McSally has championed the choice and financially, it seems a wash, for the U.S. Park Service. There is little difference between being a national park and a monument, they are managed and funded exactly the same. This push for National Park status boils down to an attempt to increase attendance which in turns provides increased funding. There is no change in the present boundaries expected.
Some one familiar with the proposal says people who are unfamiliar with an area and depend on guide books tend to believe national parks are more splendid, grand than mere monuments, even though that’s not necessarily true. But that’s what the public generally believes, so making it a park will bring more people to visit and therefore generate more revenue to manage it.
The gold pan of Arizona, SouthEast Arizona, home to Tombstone, a huge icon for all of the wild west that spilled over the landscape will get a huge shot in the arm if Congress acts on the proposal to make the Chiricahua National Monument the 60th U.S. National Park. Statistically, national parks get ten times more tourism, than do national monuments. So the new park who might see 50,000 annual visitors today could begin drawing in close to a half million tourists each year who may require meals, hotel rooms and gasoline.
Often linked with the Apache Indian War Fort Bowie and the Coronado National Park combined the new park could attract up to 200,000 annual visitors that moves the needle up toward two million potential new visitors to Cochise County where a huge economic
could make a big difference in the once Copper rich county. Today National Parks strive to bring increased economic value to their surroundings and in particular to communities of color, like Benson, Douglas, Bisbee and Wilcox, making the Chiricahua National Park a good fit for the goals of the U.S. National Park Service.
Montezuma Pass (above) provides access for the US-Mexico Border as well as for Coronado National Monument commemorating the spot where Conquistadors first crossed into the U.S. from Mexico.
The competition to become the nation’s 60th U.S. National Park is very strong. Mount Hood, Portland, Oregon’s premier tourist spot is in the running. Stronghold Table in the south Unit of Badlands National Park, has been recommended to be the nation’s first Tribal National Park in partnership with the Oglala Sioux Tribe and would expand recreation and visitation and, the prospect of a Tribal National Park, could be impactful.
In 1963 the Colorado River was dammed and allowed to back up 186 miles through Glen Canyon forming Lake Powell. Built originally to provide a water supply to the arid Southwest, today the dam undermines that very objective and it has caused damage across the Colorado River Basin. Before the dam, Glen Canyon was the biological heart of the Colorado River, with more than 79 species of plants, 189 species of birds, and 34 species of mammals; and a cultural treasure, with more than 3,000 ancient ruins. All of that was lost!
The Glen Canyon Institute says it is no longer viable to maintain two half-empty reservoirs — Lake Powell and Lake Mead. The practical alternative would be to drain most of the water in Lake Powell into Lake Mead, and turn Glen Canyon into a National Park.
Lots of politics wrapped up in Glen Canyon, in a time of state’s rights, is it really smart to take the Crown jewel of the Portland tourist trade making it a federal park when a state park would send all the money back into the community? My money rides with the Chiricahua National Park, National Park Status would bring in tourist dollars and pesos, federal infrastructure cash, good salary jobs, an steady infusion into a dull economy. Lots of history surrounding the present Chiricahua National Monument. Scene of struggles between the Apache war chief Geronimo, Apache War fort, Fort Bowie, a short distance from the present Chiricahua National Monument Visitor Center, down the road a pieces is Johnny Ringo’s Grave, Turkey Creek Camping and Rucker Lake offers both hunting and fishing…Tombstone and Bisbee both would benefit from additional spending in the borderlands of Arizona called Cochise County.
Milky Way Landscape Photography and the Perseid Meteor Shower by Eugene Louie
This was my first attempt photographing The Milky Way galaxy so I drove to Arches National Park, one of the darkest night skies in the country, to capture the galaxy hovering above the dramatic rock formations. This is Broken Arch. I used it to provide a reference point that even the most amazing Hubble Telescope pictures do not. I wanted to inspire my audience by creating a “scene setter,” which gives the viewer a feeling this scene could exist on another planet. Utah’s stark Moab desert was a perfect backdrop. Scientists studying what the likely conditions of a manned voyage to Mars use the red rocks of Utah to emulate condition on Mars for a possible manned mission to the red planet.
Capturing the Milky Way galaxy over Broken Arch was my original goal, but the experiment became enhanced by an accidental meteor streaking toward earth, probably part of the Perseus meteor shower. The Perseid meteor shower is the most famous, dependable annual meteor shower, producing on average between 60 to 90 meteors per hour, at peak observation times. The real show doesn’t start until after midnight, but meteors can be seen earlier staring around 10pm, a couple hours before the moonsets; the crescendo does not start until hours after midnight when the skies get darker as night turns into day. The prime viewing dates are: Aug. 10th, 11th, and 12th. Fortunately in 2016 observers will enjoy a longer viewing period as the moon is cooperating, setting earlier as it will be in a waning gibbous moon phase.
Visibility will be best for folks living in the mid Northern Hemisphere. All you need do is find the darkest spot possible, as far away from city light pollution, set up a comfy adjustable lawn chair, kick back and make sure you have a wide open sky above you, as meteors will come from every direction. If you are an intrepid meteor watcher be prepared to pull an all nighter.
Where Do These Meteors Come From?
The Perseid meteor shower look like they come from the constellation Perseus. The Perseid “shooting stars” are bits of space debris made of debris from the Comet Swift-Tuttle. Each piece ranges in size from a tiny piece of dust to about 10 meters. They are called meteoroids when traveling in outer space. They become meteors upon entering earth’s atmosphere, and if the meteor strikes the earth, and remains intact, it is called a meteorite. If these pieces of comet are larger than 10 meters they are called asteroids. The Comet Swift-Tuttle was discovered in 1862 and takes 133 years to make one trip around the sun. Astronomers use the term “radiant,” to describe the line that leads back to where the visible meteor seems to originate. The last time Swift Tuttle reached perihelion, the closest point to the sun, was December1992. It will do so again in 2126.
Smart Phone Apps to Locate the Perseus Constellation:
To locate the Perseus Constellation iPhone users can download “Sky Guide,” a free app available through the Apple Store and Android phone owners can use “Photo Pills,” which
cost about $10. Both are excellent and easy to use to locate The Milky Way, deep space objects constellations, nebulae, planets and more. I prefer “Sky Guide” because if you touch an object on the screen information about the object appears in an info box. This satisfies my need for immediate gratification. Sky Guide provides both scientific and the origin of the mythology behind the naming of the objects.
Technical Info About the Making of this Milky Way Landscape:
The newest camera technology allows photographers to use higher ISO settings in combination with exposures 30 seconds or less, just long enough to record points of starlight before the stars begin to leave light trails. If you enlarge the photo you can see stars, located in the upper corner of the frame, begin to leave evidence of light trails as they move across the sky even with a 17 mm wide-angle lens.
I used a 15 – 35 mm f/2.8 Canon zoom lens with the focal length set at 16 mm, ISO was 16,000, exposure 12 seconds long with the aperture set at f/2.8. Color temperature manually set to 3900 degrees kelvin. I prefer a bluer night sky and from trial and error discovered that 3900 degrees kelvin is my sweet spot to begin photographing. As the Milky Way moves across the sky and it gets closer to dawn I will raise the color temperature. Generally, I do not go higher than 6400 degrees kelvin, and only when the night passes closer to dawn. 6400 degrees kelvin produces a warmer sky. The color temperature is all personal preference so experiment to determine what degree of cool and warmth works for your sky. The camera was mounted on a carbon fiber Gitzo tripod with a Really Right Stuff ball head. At the bottom of the tripod’s center column, I installed a metal hook and hang my backpack on it to steady the camera during the 12-second exposure.
I stood behind my tripod making exposure after exposure. By luck I watched a bright streak of light appear above me while the camera shutter was open and was delighted to find the meteor trail recorded on the preview screen. My initial intention was to capture our Milky Way galaxy with an unearthly object, but I got the bonus meteor because the picture was made during the prolific Perseid Meteor Shower. In August the most dependable meteor watching nights occur during a moonless night. There is no way to predict if it will be a terrific or boring display.
I forgot to bring a cable release. Instead I used my finger to gently trip the shutter with the camera’s self-timer set for a two-second delay to eliminate mirror slap. Capturing a 40,000-mile per hour streaking meteor moving across the heavens is honestly a game of chance. Many Milky Way photographers will use an intervalometer attaching to a digital camera, resembling a cable release, and allow the camera to be placed on autopilot. The intervalometer will open and close your camera’s shutter automatically as well as start the next exposure, according to the parameters you decide. To ask questions about this blog please send an email to this address. I will respond as quickly as possible.
Canon and Nikon manufacture their own brand of intervalometer but are expensive. A less expensive work around I used was buying the Vello brand, a third party timer, which works very well and is less expensive.
American Photographer Magazine nominated Eugene Louie as a “New Face” in photojournalism when he was just 26 years old. That same year, Louie’s photographs helped Washington’s Longview Daily News win a staff Pulitzer Prize for covering the eruption of Mount St. Helens on May 18, 1980. The volcanic eruption, equivalent to 400 million tons of TNT, toppled 20 square miles of forest in six minutes. Louie’s prize-winning images were horrifying and stark. Gritty ash covered most of Washington and neighboring states. The rooftops of multi-story houses became the new high ground. Previously gentle Cowlitz River overflowed with icebergs the size of cars that had broken from melting glaciers and sped down streams.
The San Jose Mercury News recruited Louie during the after-glow of Pulitzer Prize fame, when he also won a bronze medal in the Photographer of the Year Pacific Northwest competition. Fast forward to 1989; Louie’s photography contributed to a second Pulitzer Prize win, this time for The San Jose Mercury News’ coverage of the Loma Prieta Earthquake and the aftermath.
“The Ansel Adams Yosemite Summer Workshop gave me the privilege to learn the famous landscape photographer’s “Zone System,” which in simplistic terms, gives photographers a way to communicate visual and technical issues with each other,” Louie said. For Louie, this skill was filed away to pursue a public service career in photojournalism.
Louie set out to become a psychologist and during his senior year completing a bachelor’s degree in psychology decided to pursue photojournalism, in the tradition of Life Magazine photographer W. Eugene Smith, which became Louie’s photographic hero. The late start at California State University Long Beach makes Louie’s rapid rise all the more notable. He didn’t have a degree in journalism, and competed with hungry photographers in a competitive field. “If you are meant to accomplish a specific goal, I believe, you will find a way, “ said Louie.
In 2010, during his first winter to Yosemite National Park, Louie experienced an epiphany. “Winter’s misty fog drifted around granite cathedrals altering the color, intensity and direction of light, in ways I never saw during the summer, Louie said. “That Yosemite winter quieted my mind like no experience before. Photography became a meditation. I realized the purpose of my second career is to photograph the natural world, with the same passion I felt for journalism. Today I look back to the Ansel Adams workshop for renewed inspiration. As Robert Frost is so often paraphrased, I have returned to “the road not taken.”
Perseiid Meteor Shower: NASA meteor shower, Animation; 2015:
Walking the dusty desert trail, chirping from a Cactus Wren chirps fill the air. In the distance, I hear the thunderous sound of the Javelina running about in the morning chill, the slightly overcast skies silhouette a passenger jet crossing over the Tucson Mountains
headed for TIA, the engine thunders as they slow for landing. Enjoying these sounds and resting on a bench Fred Fisher from San Jose, Ca says he comes every year for the Gem and Mineral show and now extends his visit each year to spend four or five days visiting the Desert Museum. “We come as often as we can–when we are here, it is so exceptional. “Spectacular”, he says, “this quiet solitude, the magnificent wildlife and birds. We’ve been coming to Tucson for 12 years now. We started spending a few hours here and now we spend whole days. Monday was a modest crowd he said. Tuesday was completely jammed ! I thought we were going to get trampled.”
Some ideas hit the ground running, grow, embellish and over-take their mentors before anyone knew what happened. Folks say they are no-brainers, but it takes courage for the first and unsteady steps that leads to such success—Tucson’s Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is one example. Called “one of the ten best museums in the world” that title might be argued, however, it’s success is without doubt. Tucson residents might be guilty of taking such a treasure for granted, visiting on birthdays or when relatives come to town, but ASDM can be busy as a beehive during Southern Arizona’s cooler months, thousands of visitors come to town, rent motels, eat in Tucson restaurants and spend their entire day surrounded by the incredible beauty of the Sonoran Desert.
The parking lot fills up daily and stays full all day long with license plates from 30-35 different states including 2-3 Canadian providences each day. When things slow with the approach of the summer months, ASDM opens earlier, so visitors can beat the heat and enjoy the Museum’s wildlife, before they bed down away from the sun’s heat. Throughout the year, special events are held after dark, when the critters once again come out, so a world-class wildlife experience, is available anytime of the year. The biggest contribution to ASDM success is the fact that it has grown with the times and has expanded over the years.
When the Museum first opened its doors in 1952, cages where laid out in the desert and folks walked around the critters behind bars. Today, new techniques and technology, the museum has engineered fake rocks constructed to contain their critters and allowing them to live in settings designed for their comfort and in habitat typical of where they would live in the wild. Back in the day, the Jaguar, was the last cat to live behind bars because of it’s ability to escape and resourcefulness, after that cat’s death, ASDM decided cages were no longer true to the Museum mission and the species went dark for decades. Today plans are on the drawing board for a new 1.5 acre exhibit called “Coasts to Canyons”, perhaps the most ambitious and expensive habitat, ever envisioned for the facility. Its completion would greatly increase visitors and no doubt bring out the locals to see the new digs and blow away visitors with the new air-conditioned exhibit. While this exhibit was part of Proposition 427, a $99 Million bond designed to improve roads, water control making Tucson a better place to live, it was defeated by a 39% voter turnout most of which were Republicans who felt an additional $18 a year would break their backs. Lots of private funds have been donated to ASDM and those monies alone will open the new “Winged Wonders of the South West” in 2015 and the million dollar “Midden Project” in 2017 where visitors will be greeted by a 75’ Diamondback Rattlesnake which they can choose to climb through.
In 2013, the Desert Museum opened it’s first major exhibit in a decade. The aquarium exhibition, called “Rivers to the Sea,” highlights the role of the rivers, including the Colorado and the Gulf of California. The 1,100-square-foot aquarium exhibit, housed in one of the historical structures built in 1937, includes many now-endangered species of freshwater fish, as well as several dozen species of fresh and saltwater creatures found to be at home in the brackish waters near the Sonoran coast, and the Sea of Cortez. That $1.3 Million project was opened with private donations.
Some might complain that $20 a visit might be a stiff ticket to buy, but ASDM basic membership costs $55 for a year and includes two guest tickets for the following year, allowing a year and a half of access, and that should be affordable for most.
Lots of snowbirds que up at the Raptor Free Flight. Two kids fidget as they await the Docents that remove the ropes allowing the crowd to filter into the performance staging area. The two boys, each carrying a stuffed lion, have the white pasty legs of folks living back east who have not seen the sun for months. The large crowd gathers 25 minutes before the start of the Raptor Free Flight, where about a 100 people stand at the entrance and there is standing room only, water bottles stick out of purses.
Three Desert Museum docents walk down to the crowd, they ask the crowd not to move until they finish their count to ten and one docent “who drew the short straw” has to take down the chain … that lets the Raptor Free Flight Crowd advance. “Please keep to the rails”, they ask. “You folks talk funny”, notes one docent, “flex your knees and steady yourselves,” another docent tells the crowd.
Trainer Wally Hestermann welcomes the crowd and gives a quick run down on the birds he will be working with for the 10 am show, first comes the Chihuahua Raven and the magnificent Great Horned Owl who came to the Desert Museum from a top shelf in the Oro Valley Home Depot. The Prairie Falcon–drinks no water, says Hestermann, “they get all their water from their prey”. The Ferruginous Hawk used to thrive here on Prairie dogs”, he says “but since those critters are now extinct, we don’t see this hawk around here anymore.”
“Red-tail Hawks in the wild, often die in the first year, reports the trainer “they know they have it good here, we take care of them, they can take the day off if they want.” “We want these birds to look natural, so they wear no equipment, this soaring behavior took six months to learn and they respond to visual signals from 2500.” Redtails can live 7-10 years in the wild or 10-25 years in captivity and one holds the record for 65 years. They eat farm raised mice and quail or “tissue meat”. “Our birds are orphans from rehab”, but these social birds often hunt and play in family groups of five to seven birds.
Arizona has four owls, three falcons and 7 different hawks and the Golden Eagle. The 2 pm Raptor Flight performance is different from the earlier show and features different avian residents of the desert.
One Phoenix photographer, Stu Glenn told me he often comes down to Tucson spends the night and both days at the Museum’s “Raptor Flight” a very popular performance during the cooler months. “It’s quite spectacular,” he says killing time at the Big Horn enclosure. I didn’t come down here for pictures of the rear end of a ram, he says, yesterday I got the “most excellent Harris Hawk images”, he coos.
While birds have little issue with the desert heat, non-desert-dwelling spectators have been known to drop like flies, and before the show concludes in April the Museum places “spotters” in the crowd looking for tourists who frequently collapse from the warm days and harsh sun. Regardless, “Raptor Flight” is a huge draw for spectators and photographers alike, in spite of the size of the crowds, there is not a bad seat in the show. Photographers should hang to the fringes or outside of the crowd, the birds which have been trained to feed on the branches surrounding the large group move all around and everyone gets a front row seat. I would have said it impossible if I had not seen it for myself. Some birds receive an audio signal from their trainers and perform accordingly, no bird is a prisoner, they jump at the chance to show off for treats. Photographers should be using their fastest shutter speeds to stop the flapping of these birds wings, an amazing photo opportunity.
Photo opportunities do not stop there. Early morning will find coyotes, black bear, otters, Javelina and Mexican wolves or “Lobos” all out to delight your camera. “That coyote, doesn’t seem as big as the ones in my neighborhood—they are probably controlling his diet–he probably doesn’t get a tabby cat every night, said one visitor. The coyote called “God’s Dog” by the Navajo is often “the trickster in Native American legends has an evasive and puzzling role as the fool or demigod in Native American traditions.
The Mexican Grey Wolf, has a sign in front of its enclosure that says there are 50 now living in the wild but recent headlines have said its population has doubled reaching 100, a South West success story.
The amazing Hummingbird enclosure, full of lots of species who nest and buzz about the visitors and their cameras. Their eggs look like gum drops, the hummers are going so fast, one visitor jumps back, a baby cries, camera shutters click, big cameras and cell phones alike. One parent tries but can’t pull one kid away from his cell phone. “I hear the hummingbird! He’s way up there,” attempting to get his picture. “See the hummingbird?” says another dad, “brace yourself with that long lens,” he coaches.
The Museum developed this enclosure and garden while and in doing so it developed new understandings of what attracted these fast-moving birds and what it took to keep them happy and alive. They wrote the book on Hummingbird gardens.
While scientific understanding has been expanded in the decades of working with the animal and plant species living in the Sonoran Desert. Spring can often brings great delight, this year’s second week of April, produced two baby Big Horn Sheep, an ewe and a small ram both now are on display with their moms and their magnificent father.
Further west of the Big Horn exhibit, is the Black-tailed Prairie Dog exhibit has a bunch of new pups, who enjoy wrestling and running, delighting crowds every hour of the day.
The Desert Museum has perhaps the most incredible settings found anywhere in Southern Arizona, the only spot in the United States where the giant cactus, the Saguaro, is found to grow. The smallest detail in this lush desert is found to have the most delicate beauty. The mid-March wildflowers season is followed in early May with cactus blossoms that bring yellows from the Prickly pear, purples from the Hedge-hog, yellows and reds from the Cholla and get a ladder for the white bloom on the Saguaro. Finally the two species of Palo Verde drape the entire desert with brilliant yellow blooms, finally yielding to the Ironwood trees purple coat. The Desert Museum also features more exotic species found in the nooks and crannies of the Sonoran Desert, one like the Boojum, found in north central Baja.
Not all visitors to the Desert Museum are people. One photographer I know was amazed by a scene he captured between a wayward rattlesnake trailside and an impromptu ground squirrel. He saw a women making pictures with her smart phone and he moved in tight with his Nikon and “got some amazing images” but he had never considered that rattlers might be found trailside, regardless of signs, warning folks to be alert to the possibility.
Years ago, I setup a camera on a tripod behind the Desert Museum about 2am hoping to photograph a meteor shower. As I stared into the brilliant sky alive with stars and meteors streaking across the huge expanse I was rattled into self-awareness when something behind me let loose with a loud terrifying growl. In less than ten seconds, the tripod was down and I was pulling away from my pullout on the McCain loop. The shivers up my spine had been rooted in primal concern for my very existence, the only cat in the Sonoran Desert capable of launching such a roar, was a Jaguar, who no doubt was just another visitor to the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum.
Wandering the grounds of the Desert Museum and listening to comments from visitors from all over the world gives one an appreciation for the rarity and the uncommon value found here at this popular visitor spot.
“Look it is a hedgehog cactus!”, says one visitor pointing to a prickly pear cactus. “This cactus has ears” says another. “Deer?” “I can see deer at home” says one! “I don’t see the parrot? “ You can see the wolf, he’s behind the agave.” “Wild turkey, heh! “Excellent, I could use a little wild turkey about now, says one noontime visitor. “Can you seem ’em ?”
“Let’s see the big turtles”, upon their return, “did you see your turtle?” “Nope–he’s hidden now-shall we see if the tortoises are around?” “I don’t think they hibernate in the desert”, said another. “I didn’t see any terrapin.” ”We saw nothing, I don’t know where they are!”
“This would be a cool scavenger hunt, bring a bunch of kids and see how many animals they see, offers one visitors. “I see something moving but I can’t tell what it is-a black something” (Coatimundi).
“You can see the roadrunner.” “Is anyone else being co-operative?” “Possibly not, but you have to look, like in the Gray Fox enclosure there are two sleeping beneath the ledge.”
“The beaver’s down this way, we’re on the right road. I want to jump in and cool off with that Beaver.” “Look, there’s fish in the water, 1-2-3-4-5-6-there’s the beaver.”
“Has every one seen enough of the desert?”
“What do you think about the Sonoran desert?” “It’s okay!” said one burned out Asian visitor. “Just look at this beautiful place” says another. “Now that Bighorn, I’d like to see him climb out,” says a woman with a leopard-skill umbrella shading her head from the sun.
The direct Desert sun can be harsh on folks who rarely see it, even on a day when temps top out at 79. “When we are all sunned out-we can go into the air-conditioning-there is a pop machine there and we can refill our water bottles.”
Critters from the Sonoran desert learned from birth, like the Bobcats sleeping under their ledge, that an afternoon siesta, is the best way to handle the heat. Because of that the Museum does feature indoor air-conditioned exhibits like the new reef display featuring 14 aquariums, or the beaver exhibit, snakes or spiders, cave underground or geology exploration or the shaded Aviary, so when visitors finally decide they don’t want to go back out in the sun they can go see the Hummingbird enclosure or explore any number of cooler options.
Two older women, stooped over, and barely moving up the grade, says “we’re pretending we’re kids. Running past these enthusiastic visitors must be 30 kids all wearing red-t-shirts which mark them from the same school, making it easier for their tenders, to know which kids to roundup or push along and to take home a day’s end.
The 98 acres of the Museum continue to be owned by Pima County and leased to the Museum. ASDM is governed by an independent Board of 24 members.
The Desert Museum is ranked on TripAdvisor.com as one of the Top 10 Museums in the country and the #1 Tucson attraction. Unlike most museums, about 85% of the experience is outdoors! The 98 acre Desert Museum is a diverse experience: featuring a zoo, botanical garden, art gallery, natural history museum, and aquarium. The 21 interpreted acres has two miles of walking paths through various desert habitats, housing 230 animal species, 1,200 types of plants with 70,000 individual specimens. It houses one of the world’s most comprehensive regional mineral collections. Beyond merely an attraction, the Museum’s conservation and research programs are providing important information to help conserve the Sonoran Desert region. The Desert Museum’s Art Institute inspires conservation through art education and gallery exhibits. The Museum’s publishing division, ASDM Press, has produced over 40 books and guides on the natural and cultural history of the Sonoran Desert.
The Desert Museum is recognized as one of the finest docent corps in existence today, it began in the fall of 1972. The genesis was a small group of volunteers trained to take school children on tours of the grounds, but now the docents are stationed around the grounds to provide live interpretation to all who visit. These docents, who undergo a rigorous 15-week training program, are now devoted to giving demonstrations on the grounds, and contribute today more than 75,000 hours annually to do this.
The Museum’s other education programs developed over the years, most notably by Hal Graswho created a program to take live animals to schools and other venues. His program, begun in 1955, dubbed “The Desert Ark”, touched tens of thousands of people. Even though Gras retired from the Museum in 1985, many people today recall being inspired to learn about the desert from Gras and his Desert Ark.
<a href=” SPANISH TRANSLATION
The wild West lives today, in the hearts and minds of its fans and historians. But in Marana, the spirit of western culture, lives on in a dusty corral next to Interstate 10 which routes horse-lovers there from all over Arizona. The Marana Western Heritage Arena sets the stage for cowboys and cowgirls of all ages to grow up Western and realize their ambitions and goals.
Most weeks folks converge there to barrel race and ride bulls. Every friday night, kids come and “to hang out” watching family and friends perform in the arena. Bull riding starts at 7pm and varies whether you have experienced riders or someone new trying on the sport for the first time. Why would someone climb onto the back of a huge bull, knowing it would eventually launch them skyward?
“A passion for animals and the adrenaline for life,” says Jessica Reyna whose teenage son, Benaiah has decided he would ride a bull tonight, his first, but not his last. “He’s a bull-rider now!,” comes the voice from the speakers, “Welcome to the family!” as Benaiah picks himself up, dusts off and climbs out of the arena. Some fridays, dozens of younger kids show up for “mutton-busting”. Climbing on top of huge sheep, grabbing the rope, and letting go. The kids love it and for many, it is just a question of time, before they trade sheep for bulls. It’s not all guys who climb onto the unridable, two girls, who come most Friday because their friends are here say if they had the cash they would go for it. They felt sure, that in the beginning, they might “come off pretty early” at first, but eventually they could get a good ride. Their day is coming they say…
Tonight, behind the chutes, four or five friends are stretching, talking, laughing and getting ready. Wives and girlfriends stand near talking but watching as the guys get ready. Many of these riders are active Air Force, airmen who had to get their CO’s permission before they could ride bulls. Most have been here before, Mike Fuentes has been riding for about a year and wants to improve his ranking and get his PRCA card, maybe win some cash. He is real impressed with the arena and folks who attend, it’s like family he says, when I first came out here I had no gear just wanted to ride. Folks pulled together enough gear for him to get thrown off, since then, he keeps come back for more. “It’s like family here”, he says.
When the riders are queued and ready for the gate to open. Most wearing face mask, chest protection and rubber mouth guards, they suck it up as the g-forces grab them. Everyone has their smartphones out filming and capturing the ride to be dissected later for fun and training, either way, they want a record for their ride tonight. Who would believe it otherwise ?
John Schmidt is a one-man rodeo, he’s is master-of-ceremonies and announcer, he helps load bulls and picks up cowpokes off the ground. He doesn’t ride bulls anymore, after 15 years he wants to pass his skills on to others, while keeping the arena running safely. While Schmidt gets much of the credit for the friday night bull adventure pitting 160 pound cowboys against 2400 pound bulls, he is the first to pass the credit on down the line. “Dan idea for the arena”, he deflects, “was to create a place where folks could bring their families, to visit and play together”. Ten years ago Dan Post built the arena, bull chutes and corrals, most nights he is the fella on top of the tractor who smooths out the soil in the performance area and gets it ready for the next group of riders.
Then he does it again, and again, all night long. “This is my service” says Dan Post, with the humility of a guy who doesn’t want the limelight. Fact is, Dan’s service extends to the Marana School Board, where he has served ten terms, helped build all of Marana’s Schools and knows all the employees who have been hired in their public schools for the past forty years. He’s running again this year for the school board, “Because they need my experience!” he says. Post’s experience is unparalleled, he’s lived in Marana over 50 years and while he misses the old days and “hates seeing all the farmland go away”. As President of the Town of Marana Western Heritage Committee, whose mission is to promote a Western way of life, allowing opportunities for people wanting an equestrian experience. Post’s prominent role on the school board, may be the reason, the arena was built on high school land.
Either way, it fills up most weeks for the varying events, some with jackpots, bull riders for $50 can get into the money if they stay on for eight seconds. Some nights they might win $500, but eight seconds can feel like eternity, so some don’t. Jackpot Barrel racing, open to both Cowboys and Cowgirls, on the first Wednesday of each month, might bring out 50-60 riders who could win $150-$200 with some style and a quick ride.
Saturday can often bring hundred’s of youngsters and horses out for Horse Gymkana’s that run the kids and their critters through the paces, pillons or barrels. Four-H groups from all over southern Arizona and Tucson turn out to await their turn as they navigate the obstacle course. They learn valuable lessons in caring for animals and meet kids they will grow up with, each taking their place in the competition’s rankings.
Lots of energy goes into making up Marana’s Western Heritage Arena, covering the
events, coaching the kids, organizing the livestock, watering down the dust that fills the air and might drift onto I-10 if Dan Post wasn’t driving the water truck around and dampening it down, nailing down all the loose soil in the area.
Because the Marana Arena is such a class act, the Grand Canyon Rodeo Association, often has a rodeo there on the grounds bringing in top ranked cowboys and cowgirls to compete for bigger money and eventually getting into the big money which makes Rodeo a full-time job for lots of cowpokes. It is something you have to love because many suffer lots of broken bones, cuts, scrapes and dislocations, whatever, they all go back for more because they love to Rodeo…
Bull Riding Practice Every Friday 7 PM Sharp
Mutton Busting, Calf Riding, Steer Riding, Jr. Bulls and Bulls $5 admission adults, Children 12 & under free
Mutton Busters must weigh under 70lbs $5 fee Steer Riding $10, Bulls $20
First time Bull riders are welcome equipment available at the arena rope, helmet, vest
|Directions to Arena
I-10 exit 236 take eastbound frontage at Chevron 1/2 mile east at Postvale Rd.
For more info call 520-248-1736
<a href=” SPANISH TRANSLATION
The lush Oak Flat campground, once a quiet island of green in Central Arizona, is known to the nearby San Carlos Apache as “where the Creator touched the land”. Its lush canopy of trees and streams surrounded by the brown Sonoran Desert leaves little doubt this small gem is worth the fight looming in its future. It is the classic battle of good, fighting corporate greed aided by “political corruption”, against a Native American tribe that historically has been pushed to the end of their Earth.
The Apache, disconnected from their lands and culture, were taken prisoners-of-war and were victims of genocide. Still they endured, survived and have taken up their battle for holy land to the highest court in the land, their creator! Ussen, placed them on this earth and made them stewards of the land from the day they are born to the day they die it is inherent to the Apache to protect the land their ancestors died fighting for, today it is their fight.
More than a year ago, few knew of Oak Flat, for many, it’s the top-of-the-world-a high spot where one can see forever. Roughly a hundred miles southeast of Phoenix and a long way from all the green golf courses, resorts of Scottsdale where folks sip light beer poolside. More than 200 San Carlos Apache marched on a crowded curving roadway, backed up by vans of elderly. They marched 50 miles to Oak Flat from the Tribal headquarters in San Carlos some walking and others running across some of the hottest, inhospitable land in the United States.
Today, one year plus and counting, activists are marching for Oak Flat in Honolulu, Seattle and Sacramento and protests are being held elsewhere in the U.S. The San Carlos Apache began their 2016 anniversary march in February from “Old San Carlos”, 13 miles from present day tribal headquarters, when Coolidge Dam was built it plugged the Gila River. As the water rose the historic, painful and criminal San Carlos Indian Agency was lost to the waters, as well as, 400 Indian graves.
Vernelda Grant: tribal historic preservation officer for the San Carlos Apache Tribe
We have mixed feelings, mixed feelings because, you know, we have the water here now, we have the fish here and these beautiful birds, and the water to us is life, but underneath it all is a lost history. This water covers a painful part of our lives from the past. I think it soothes that pain. For the Apaches, the waters help conceal a painful past. Old San Carlos was a powerful launchpad and an emotional sendoff for the almost 200 marchers and runners who churned through the 50 miles march ending up at Oak Flat for the blessing of the holy land by the Apache Crown Dancers.
Since then, the campground has been occupied, as the Apache continue their protective watch. Meanwhile, forces are at work to turn around the “land swap” that John McCain snuck into the behemoth national defense spending bill that was passed.
Everyone now, has heard of Oak Flat ! The unjust midnight move one year ago by John McCain, bypassing due process, so a foreign copper company could steal land that serves as part of the San Carlos Apache lifestyle and culture. After a decade of successful tribal legal intervention, McCain slipped the rider into the 2015 National Defense (must pass) Bill overnight and passed it the next day, bypassing any public transparency. Today, a goggle search for Oak Flat brings back, hundreds, if not, thousands of hits. From photo spreads in GARZA the French News Magazine to an Op/Ed piece in the New York Times calling McCain and Jeff Flakes bill, “a new low in congressional corruption”, written by Lydia Millet, who says ”the rider should be repealed.” Millet suggests “laws can be reversed by new legislative language.
Tucson representative Raul Grivaljva and presidential candidate and Vermont Senator both have filed legislative action to scuttle the McCain-Flake rider in favor of the San Carlos Apache Indian Tribe.
“Oak Flat is an important cultural and religious area that is vital to the traditions of our Native American brothers and sisters – it deserves our strongest protections,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson.
The Save Oak Flat Act, authored by Tucson Rep. Raul Grijalva and cosponsored by presidential Democratic candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Ruben Gallego and Sen. Tammy Baldwin, would repeal this amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, thereby disallowing mining in this area. According to the Save Oak Flat Act, the establishment of a mine would result in, “the physical destruction of tribal sacred areas and deprive American Indians from practicing their religions, ceremonies, and other traditional practices.” Furthermore, the Act considers the potential environmental degradation due to mining waste.
John Welch, an archaeologist, long-time resident of Fort Apache and a professor at Simon Fraser University in Canada, says Oak Flat, “Is the best set of Apache archaeological sites ever documented, period, full stop.” Oak Flat and Ga’an Canyon are “where the spiritual beings that represent healing live.”
“We demand entitlement to our land and reservation, says Nosie, “through prayer, we are going to win!” “We are bringing down the barriers imposed upon us and today we breakout, the abuse from the people outside (the reservation), ends here today.”
So spoke, Wendsler Nosie, one year ago speaking in one voice for Tribal leaders from all over Arizona and Native Americans everywhere, Nosie announced Thursday February Fourth, 2015, to be “a historic day as the Apache once again took the field once again against the United States of America”. Nosie then led his people on a march to Apache Leap Mountain towering over the mining community of Superior where Resolution Copper plans to use robots working deep underground to collapse the mountain beneath itself imploding the Apache sacred ceremonial grounds where their ancestors are buried, where their daughter’s held Sunrise Ceremonies, where their parents wakes and funerals were enshrined—a holy place for every chapter of Apache Life.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, the San Carlos Brave’s Basketball Team today has won the State Championship this a very afternoon.” Applause breaks out as community members celebrate their children bringing home the top prize from the state tournament. Apache are a very proud people and their children are the center of their universe.
Apache Leap Mountain gets its name from the Pinal Apache Band who lived in those hills and valley, those rocks still carry rock art left from their dreams of successful hunts for deer and mountain sheep, game that filled their stomachs and fueled their children’s futures. That band of 40 died leaping from the ragged mountain edge as they were surrounded by the U. S. Cavalry who demanded a return to San Carlos, or die by their sabers. The Pinal Apache chose to leap knowing their God knew best how they should live and die. Today the Apache fight for their children.
For decades, the Apaches fought and raided encroaching Mexican and American immigrants. In the 1870s, the U.S. government forced them onto camps or reservations, like San Carlos. “HELL’S 40 ACRES” was the nickname for San Carlos Indian Agency for the deplorable living conditions found there in 1870-80’s according to wikipedia, there it reports the U.S. Army showed both animosity toward the Indians and disdain for their civilian Indian agents. Soldiers and officers Wikipedia reports “sometimes brutally tortured or killed the Indians for sport…”
“We were pushed here”! says Wensler Nosie, former Chairman of the San Carlos Apache people and spiritual leader of the Save Ash Flat Movement. We used to roam the entire South West, but we were told to stay at San Carlos and extermination was the response when we didn’t. The white man killed our ancestors, my great grandparents, when they tried to continue their nomadic lifestyle. My mother told me, stay on the reservation-don’t bother those white people outside or they will rain down hurt upon you and our people! That was a sickness pressed upon our people by the U.S. government, that ends today, “Today we pray to our God and through God we will win!”
Councilman Fred Ferreiria from the San Carlos Peridot district says “they gave us this land because no one wanted it — they found minerals — and they took it. If we don’t stop it now, bit by bit, they will take it all away again.” We learned the laws and how things are done, we were doing that and the government broke the rules, we must continue this fight, we are here today for our children.”
“We have champions in Congress and they will help us “Repeal the Law” said Ed Norris, chairman of the Tohono Oodham (above)
God blesses the world–he put us here to protect the land and as long as we put God first–he will fight for us. Apache people were taught to pray and only through prayer will we win. The white man came to America in search of religious freedom but still they deprive the Apache of what is his religious right.” “We are still prisoners-of-war” said Wally Davis, chairman of the Tonto Apache speaking of people forced marched to the San Carlos Indian Reservation. “This is a message to all Native Americans.” “San Carlos is still a prison, ” Davis said. In March 1875, the government closed the Yavapai-Apache Camp Verde Reservation and the Army marched the residents 180 miles to the San Carlos Apache Indian Reservation. More than 100 Yavapai died during the winter trek. After Geronimo’s capture in 1886, and the Chiricahua Band were shipped to Florida, San Carlos was then used to contain all the rest of the Apachean-speaking people until the 1900’s.
“This is Apache territory and Oak Flat belongs to the Apache—they took it away from us and we must take it back says Apache Chairman Terry Rambler. “I’m very proud of my ancestor’s “Apache Pride” we were supposed to be exterminated but we are here today, let’s take over Oak Flat, this is our time to be involved! Apache were slaughtered and killed here—we will fight for the blood of our ancestors. The chairman said the San Carlos Tribal council voted against any copper mines being built upon their land.”
“The white people came to this land searching for religious freedom, fleeing persecution, they wanted “ to have the ability to pray, we want the same freedom”. Some people have to visualize something, like a church, a structure to express their love of God, Oak Flat is our church, it is no different today. Today is about religious freedom, we need to keep our connection to our God.”
It is a little known fact, that the largest, most-amazing copper deposit in Arizona, lies beneath the city of Mesa. So imagine, if you will, the Mesa Arizona Temple – The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, gets a federal notice that the church is off-limits and will be demolished in order for China to have all the copper they want to sell back to us. That’s Oak Flat, in an nutshell, the church of the San Carlos Apache is threaten by a copper mine and since environmental studies have been ruled unnecessary, the San Carlos people fear for their water and their spirituality.
In addition to the destruction of this place of worship, the Land Exchange will threaten the water quality and water supply of the region. The Tonto National Forest was established in 1905 principally to protect the region’s watershed. However, the Land Exchange will effectively eliminate these protections. Under current plans, the mining operation will require an unsustainable amount of water to operate and leave behind contaminated water affecting the Tribe and local communities for generations to come. The resulting hole will be two miles across and resemble “Meteor Crater” near Winslow, Az.
Meanwhile the 1978 American Indian Religious Act forbids government to denying Native Americans access to sites or to interfere with religious practices and customs where such use conflicts with federal regulations according to President Jimmy Carter this act stops that. Both Presidents Nixon and Eisenhower signed bills setting aside Oak Flat from mining and development. It was established as a green space for Americans to enjoy.
A few months ago, the National Museum of the American Indian contacted the SouthWest PhotoJournal to acquire “images for their upcoming classroom lesson plan their Education Department was developing, a lesson plan about American Indian Removal, for teachers and students K-12. The web-based module titled “Many Trails of Tears.” would be a teaching tool to understand the impact and complexity of U.S. Removal Policies, with a wide variety of stories and outcomes. One part of the lesson was to focus on Oak Flat. They asked students to look at Oak Flat and determine whether mining on a sacred site is an example of removal today says Erin Beasley, visual researcher for the National Museum.
“Just recently the web lesson plan went through a review process Beasley reported a couple months later, and “the education team has informed me they had to drop the Oak Flat story in the lesson plan for the immediate future”. “It may come back at some point, but for now I’m very sorry to say we won’t be using the Oak Flat images. Oak Flat is such an important story, I’m sure it will come into another project, or become a growth of this educational project, in the future.”
I frankly had expected the change because the battle over Oak Flat is growing very contentious and workers at the National Museum are subject to the will of Congress and to be calling Oak Flat, an example of forced relocation, while Republicans are saying never mind, this campground is no consequence or no major importance, could cost a job.
Sides have been chosen and battle lines drawn both Reps. Paul Gosar, R-Prescott, and Ann Kirkpatrick, D-Flagstaff, asked the National Park Service to withdraw the Oak Flat application to the National Register of Historic Places, saying it was confusing and vaguely worded in an attempt to undermine the proposed Resolution Copper mine. They noted, among other things, that the application did not cite “Oak Flat,” as the area is commonly known, but called it the “Chi’chil Bildagoteel Historic District,” according to the Cronkite News Service.
“We are concerned that the use of the phrase ‘Chi’chil Bildagoteel Historic District’ and a lack of geographic information is an attempt by these opponents to limit transparency and public comments from constituents that disagree with this nomination, and an attempt to undermine our bipartisan bill” the lawmakers’ letter said.
In the March 10th edition of the Tucson Weekly Republican Congressman Paul Gosar goes nuclear at news that Oak Flat will remain listed in the National Register of Historic Places, despite attempts by himself and U.S. Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat who alleges to stand by Native Americans, to withdraw the site from historic consideration.
In a press release, Gosar alleges Oak Flat has never been a sacred site. According to a letter by former chairman of the San Carlos Apache Nation and organizer of the group Apache Stronghold Wendsler Nosie, Sr., Gosar is pressuring the National Forest Service to kick out members of the Apache Stronghold, as well as allies, who have occupied the area since the site was sold out to the mining company.
“Oak Flat deserves our strongest protections,” said Rep. Raul Grijalva, D-Tucson. “As someone who has fought to safeguard this treasure for years, I fully support designating the land as a historic property listed on the National Register of Historic Places and encourage the National Park Service to evaluate the proposal based on its merits.”
Wendsler Nosie Sr. marching to Oak Flat
“Today eagle feathers arrived here on foot, this is a spiritual gathering. The idea is to get here so the blessing can be given by God. We have arrived so God will have blessed us…we are all brothers and sisters here. Together we will protect our water so we can continue to live as human beings.The Apache need to be afforded the same protection as all U.S. citizens—we Apache want the same rights afforded everyone else. This is a gift from God to help save the world may we all be blessed from this day forward.” Wendsler Nosie Sr.
One year ago Wendsler Nosie , spiritual leader of the San Carlos Apache, said a movement had begun and his tribe had “once again taken the field against the United States of America.” Since then members have occupied Oak Flat and continued their lifestyle using the campgrounds and canyon and valleys of Oak Flat, as the scene for weddings, funerals and the Apache Sunrise Ceremonies, the three day ceremony that celebrates Apache women coming of age. This fine stand of Emory Oaks for centuries have brought the Apache here to pick and fill their containers with acorns, to make a long time favorite Apache meal, Acorn Stew, as well as enjoying the acorn itself. Tisha Black says her 84 year old father “loves to pick acorns” at Oak Flat and the former tribal policeman, baliff and jailer stopped picking acorns there a few years ago, after a Highway Patrolman told him he couldn’t pick the nuts at Oak Flat anymore.
Since the required environmental impact studies for the proposed Resolution Mine were rendered pointless by the McCain bill, the tribe and other central Arizona residents, will have no protection for their groundwater and the mine will not be libel if water is spoiled.
Soon, if Resolution Copper gets access to the Copper beneath Oak Flat, the Superior Az community Easter campouts will cease at the campground and everything that has happened at Oak Flat before will cease to exist or occur. Eventually, the campgrounds, canyons and “world class” climbing rock will be place off limits as robots a mile beneath the surface collapse this mountain and ship the ore overseas.
“We have to stand up and fight Congress, laws can be made and laws can be changed! John McCain made a big mistake doing this to us said Terry Rambler, Chairman of the San Carlos Tribe. These politicians aided Resolution Mine, the Canadian Copper Mine that wants to collapse Apache Leap Mountain and ship the copper ore overseas. Leaving the Apache, the hole and a contaminated water source. “What was a struggle to protect our most sacred site is now a battle. Their angry words leave no doubt that “greedy politicians” like Sen. John McCain, Sen. Jeff Flake, Anne Kirkpatrick and Rep. Paul Gosar, have worn out their welcome in Indian Country.
“The rape of Indian land stops today on this historic day”, Nosie continues. ” Oak Flat was a gift from God to the Apache people, may we all be blessed from this day forward,” Nosie tells the crowd. “We are spiritually guided here–indigenous people from all over the world are watching our fight”! If America is the World’s Policeman, and this under-handed maneuver is how they treat their native peoples, then what hope do native souls have anywhere?
<a href=” SPANISH TRANSLATION
The SouthWest Photo Journal began life as a sister site to South West Photo Bank, both .coms, showcase my photography which usually features the American South West. When the sites started my plan was to develop tools I as a photographer would use to display my photos and tell the kind of stories I have enjoyed working on all my life. After almost 50 years of working with cameras it is in the blood. My life as a photojournalist has exposed me to many of the cultures that make up the rich tapestry of life I have found here in the Southwest. This past year, my blog has reflected life in Arizona on four separate reservations found in Sells, Sacaton, San Carlos and Whiteriver. Each blog reflects on the rich communities on the Tohono O’odham, Gila River Tribes, San Carlos Apache and the White Mountain Apache reservations. I have alway thought that life-long Arizonans miss out on so much by failing to learn more about their neighbors. These blogs attempt to share the rich customs and traditions found throughout our state. Closer to home, my blogs on the Pow Wow, Mescal Movie Set and the A-Mountain Cross carry reflects smaller communities within communities, people of one mind and tradition. The Tucson Rugby Community was a great blog and a wonderful experience, these folks play their hearts out, and deserve greater community support. Archaeology is a great pull on my curiosity and the Oro Valley Pit House blog features the background behind the people who lived in the Oro Valley area 800 years ago. The Mule Creek Salado Pueblo built by Archaeology SouthWest’s Allen Denoyear, as was the Oro Valley Pit House, these communities are long gone but interest in what they accomplished during their time on earth continues. A few epic blogs on the Grand Canyon, the Spanish Entrada into the South West and another on Spanish Missions tend to pick up traffic as time goes by. Blogs on Cuba, Nepal and Alaska usually have a news peg like Cuba opening up after a half century, Nepal suffering crippling earthquakes and Alaska because I finally got those photos scanned and rooted into the South West Photo Bank. Below is WordPress.Com annual review of the stats from the South West Photo Journal and thought you might enjoy.
Thanks for making this all possible…
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 51,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 19 sold-out performances for that many people to see it. There were 637 pictures uploaded, taking up a total of 507 MB. That’s about 2 pictures per day. The busiest day of the year was June 17th with 4,382 views. The most popular post that day was SAN CARLOS APACHE MARCH TO OCCUPY OAK FLAT PROMISE A FIGHT TO SAVE THEIR HOLY GROUND FROM THE GREED OF McCAIN, KIRKPATRICK, FLAKE, GOSAR AND THE RESOLUTION COPPER MINE !.
That blog eventually had 23,817 views and 20 comments. Many of those hits came to SouthWestPhotoJournal.Com from a Facebook connection from a New York Times OP/ED which called this land swap, “political corruption” following McCain slipping a rider in the “must-pass” National Defense Bill for which McCain sits on the Chairmanship of the most powerful of committees. Outrage was the tone of the comments.
In 2015, there were 15 new posts, growing the total archive of this blog to 135 posts. That’s 141 countries in all who visited the site! Most visitors came from The United States. Canada & France were not far behind.
These are the posts that got the most views in 2015. You can see all of the year’s most-viewed posts in your Site Stats.
“SAN CARLOS APACHE MARCH TO OCCUPY OAK FLAT PROMISE A FIGHT TO SAVE HOLY GROUND FROM THE GREED OF McCAIN KIRKPATRICK FLAKE GOSAR AND THE RESOLUTION COPPER MINE …..23,817 views!”
OLD TUCSON’S MESCAL CHANNELS THE OLD WEST’, IT’S PRICELESS, BUT MOVIE SETS ARE NOT BUILT TO LAST ONLY FILM MAGIC LIVES ON ! …….1612 views
HONEY BEE PIT HOUSE CONSTRUCTION MAPS OUT THE HOHOKAM’S LIFE WAYS AT STEAM PUMP RANCH IN ORO VALLEY EXPANDING THE PREHISTORIC RECORD ! …….776 views
APACHE SUNRISE CEREMONY … A COMING OF AGE DANCE FOR APACHE WOMEN …..615 views
THE LANGUAGE ON THE ROCKS : WAS THE FLUTE-PLAYING KOKOPELLI, A TRADER, DIPLOMAT, TEACHER OR WITCH ? DID ROCK DRAWINGS REVEAL THE SECRETS OF THE COSMOS AND THE FACE OF EARLY MAN? ……454 views
THE GREAT FORT APACHE HERITAGE CELEBRATION or NDEE LA ADE’/ GATHERING OF THE PEOPLE WHOSE YOUTH ARE KEEPING THEIR TRADITIONS ALIVE !…412 views
PISTOLERO JOHNNY RINGO A LOWLIFE NO GOOD BACKSHOOTIN SCUMSUCKER IS BURIED IN WEST TURKEY CREEK ….380 views
TUCSON’S NEW SKATE BOARD GENERATION CATCHES WAVE TOWARD THE NATIONS BEST SKATESCAPE …364 views
GREEN VALLEY’S ASARCO DISCOVERY MINE TOUR SHOWS THE BEST AND WORST OF COPPER MINES AND THE ART OF HARDROCK MINING362
Annetta Koruh “Nita” bakes Piki Bread for her godson’s Naming ceremony and to feed the Kachinas that come to dance at 3rd Mesa.
The baker dips their hand in a mixture of cornmeal, crisco, and sheep brains plies the mixture thinly upon a flagstone rock which bakes the bread.
Newspapers flying off to Dodo Island …356 views
VIVA! PROCLAIMS ELOY ARIZONA UPHOLDING A TRADITION OF FAMILY AS MEXICAN INDEPENDENCE DAY SEPTEMBER 16 SENDS RIPPLES WORLD-WIDE…..299 views
INDIAN RODEOS ARE WHERE YOU FIND THE ACTION and TRIBAL FAIRS OFFER A RICH VIEW OF TRADITIONAL LIFE ….293 views
LITTLE PICACHO WILDERNESS OPENS DOOR TO CALIFORNIA CHOCOLATE MOUNTAINS AND WINTER ADVENTURE …285 views
THE POW WOW PATH LEADS TO FAMILY & FRIENDS DANCE COMPETITIONS BUILDS NATIVE AMERICAN PRIDE WITH TRADITIONS LINKING TO THEIR PAST !……264 views
TOHONO O’ODHAM TOKA TOURNAMENT IS A TOAST TO THE PAST AND REVIVAL OF OLD SOCIAL GAMES …262 views
SOUTHWEST SPANISH MISSIONS BROUGHT THE “GOSPEL’S LIGHT TO THE RIM OF CHRISTENDOM HELPED THE NATIVES CARVE A LIVELIHOOD FROM THE LAND AND WRITTEN HISTORY BEGAN !”….238 views
A GATHERING OF WARRIORS; IRA HAYES WELCOMES HOME TRIBAL PATRIOTS TO SACATON TO CELEBRATE THE WARRIORS’S FIGHTING SPIRIT !……217 views
SUPERIOR COPPER MINE TO USE ROBOTS ON WORLD-CLASS ORE BODY, SAN CARLOS APACHE VOW FIGHT TO SAVE RESERVATION WATER FROM IRANIANS…..215 views
KATERI TEKAKWITHA BATHS HER LOVE LIGHT ON THE WHITE DOVE OF THE DESERT ! SAN XAVIER MISSION…..203 views
URANIUM MINING in the SOUTH WEST: A LEGACY THAT POISONS THE LAND … AND ” IT WILL NEVER GO AWAY’!…..200 views
MUL-CHA-THA BRINGS GILA RIVER INDIAN TRIBES TOGETHER FOR FUN WITH FAMILY AND FRIENDS ! 30 YEAR STUDY OF PIMA BLOOD MAY CURE DIABETES…..191 views
MUL-CHU-THA RODEO and FAIR: IS A FOOT RACE TO A BETTER LIFE ! PEE POSH AND AKIMEL O’ODHAM TRIBES TAG TEAM COMMUNITY PROGRESS WITH GATHERINGS188AMERICAN SOUTHWEST LANDSCAPE…..186 views
“ALL WE NEED IS A SPARK! SEVERE FIRE SEASON PREDICTED IN U.S. SOUTH WEST: A FOREST OF “TORCHED TOOTHPICKS” WILL BE OUR LEGACY”……180 views
BEARIZONA! ENTER at YOUR OWN RISK! South West BLACK BEAR Preserve Productive Stop for Photographer…..174 views
TUCSON RUGBY: “THE LONGEST 40 MINUTES IN YOUR LIFE-YOU WANT OUT-BUT ARE AFRAID SOMEONE WILL LAUGH AT YOU RUCKING AND MAULING IS TEAMWORK”…..173 views
AMISH FALL ENDS MID-MISSOURI SEASONAL CYCLE HARD WORK BEGINS ANEW BEFORE THE SNOW FLYS…..161 views More Amish Photos
“THAT SPOT IS NOT THAT SCENIC! BUILDING ROSEMONT MINE: EARNING THE PUBLIC TRUST! SELLING ARIZONA’S NEXT OPEN PIT MINE”…..159 views
TOHONO O’oDHAM 76TH RODEO and FAIR BRINGS FAMILY AND FRIENDS TOGETHER TO CELEBRATE…..150 views
SELLS 75TH ALL INDIAN RODEO & FAIR, OLDEST IN THE UNITED STATES & BEST ENTERTAINMENT TICKET!…..140 views
CONFEDERATES SCARE OFF YANKEES PICACHO PEAK PARK SALUTES 150th ANNIVERSARY OF ARIZONA VICTORY…..138 views
“TREE TIME THE SINGLE GREATEST CONTRIBUTION TO AMERICAN ARCHAEOLOGY THE STUDY OF TREE RINGS or THE DAY SOUTH WEST PREHISTORY STOOD STILL …”…..134 views
THE DRIEST & HOTTEST YEAR IN 500 YEARS ! THE RELENTLESS SOUTHWESTERN DROUGHT: EXPERTS SAY ‘GET USED TO IT’…WILL ARIZONANS BE THE NEXT ‘CLIMATE REFUGEES’ ?……133 views
BORDER SECURITY FACT or FICTION ? MORE BOOTS ON THE BORDER NOW THAN EVER BEFORE ! SOME CALL FOR MILITIA, MARSHALL LAW TO STOP THE INVASION !…..131 views
TOHONO O’ODHAM SLAP STICK IS A COMPETITIVE BATTLE IN SELLS, NOT FOR THE WEAK-KNEED, NOR FOR THE FAIR WEATHER VISITOR…129 views
The TOHONO O’ODHAM : A DESERT PEOPLE …..126 views
BIRDING IN THE SOUTHWEST, TAKE YOUR SCOPE ! NO MATTER WHERE YOU ARE IN ARIZONA THERE IS A HOT BIRDING PARADISE AT A WETLAND NEAR YOU ! …..122 views
END OF THE WORLD COMING ON SOLSTICE ? WHITE BUFFALO WOMEN SAYS LOVE THE WORLD AND EACH OTHER LOVE WILL RETURN BALANCE TO OUR WORLD !…..120 views
GET YOUR KICKS ON ROUTE 66 HISTORIC ROAD WEST DEFINES AMERICA REMAINS A TREASURE TO BE NURTURED AND APPRECIATED…120 views
WYATT EARP NO SHOW FOR TOMBSTONE’S EARP DAYS LETHARGY SWEEPS MEMORIAL DAY EVENT……101 views
ARIZONA’S CROWN JEWELS …..98 views
COWBOY UP ! COWBOY DOWN…SACATON JUNIOR RODEO A BOOT CAMP FOR ARIZONA’S NEXT RODEO STARS…..98 views
URANIUM MINING in the SOUTH WEST: NAVAJOS TRAPPED BY TAILING and DECADES OF INACTION……90 views
IN TOUCH WITH THE MIMBRES, MOGOLLON, SALADO PROBLEM IN MULE CREEK NEW MEXICO, SOUTHWEST ARCHAEOLOGY FIELD SCHOOL PROBES FOR ANSWERS…..83 views
PECOS CONFERENCE OPENS WINDOW TO THE VIRGIN ANASAZI’S ARIZONA STRIP FARMERS AND TIMELINE…77 views
“ONLY THE GODS CAN SEE THEM ANCIENT MAN PETITIONS SKY PILOTS”76TUCSON SUNSET ECLIPSE ALL ABOUT SAGUAROS, THE RING OF FIRE STRETCHES FROM ASIA TO NEW MEXICO…..61 views
MEXICO’S ONLY CORAL REEF, CABO PULMO ON BAJA’S EAST CAPE, NEEDS PROTECTION FROM GREEDY DEVELOPERS WHOSE LUST FOR 23,000 NEW ROOMS WILL KILL THIS PARADISE !,=…..60 views
NOW CUBA IS OPEN TO THE U.S., WHERE TO STAY IN HAVANA? TRY A BED AND BREAKFAST, LIVE DOWNTOWN AND PARTY WITH THE LOCALS ! ……59 views
TUCSON’S DOWNTOWN NEW STREET CAR SYSTEM ROLL OUT OVERWHELMINGLY RECEIVED BY 60,000 RIDERS EMBRACING THE NEW RIDE…..57 views
HAYDEN’S SMELTER TURNS 100 YEARS, POLLUTION ISSUES WORRY RESIDENTS BUT QUIET LIFE, GOOD JOB, A BIG PLUS56THE COLORADO RIVER WATERS THE AMERICAN SOUTHWEST…..53 views
WHATEVER HAPPENED TO McCORMICK & DEERING ?…..51 views
ROCK ART RANCH TAKES VISITORS BACK IN TIME ! EXPERTS MARVEL AT “BIRTHING SCENE A GLIMPSE OF SOUTH WEST PREHISTORIC LIFE ON PECOS 2013 TOUR”…..48 views
TUCSON’S DAY OF THE DEAD PROCESSION 2010…..48 views
BIG SHOW JUST AROUND THE CORNER, ANNUAL FALL LEAVES STARTING EARLY IN FLAGSTAFF, WHITE MOUNTAINS LEAVES ON SCHEDULE BUT LATER…..47 views
DESERT WILDFLOWERS, JUST THE ICING ON THE CAKE FOR HIKERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS
AND LOVERS OF THE SOUTH WEST BACK ROADS AND SCENERY…44 views
CUBA’S LOVE – HATE RELATIONS WITH AMERICAN CARS LEFT IN A 1950’S TIME WARP – EVERYONE MAKES DO !…….44 views
FALL COMES TO ARIZONA HIGHLANDS……42 views
SPRING IS BUSTING OUT ALL OVER, CACTUS ARE BLOOMING NOW AND BIRDS ARE NESTING, COLOR ABOUNDS IN ARIZONA’S SONORAN DESERT…..40 views
TUCSON’s 2011 DAY of the DEAD PROCESSION : A NEVER-ENDING LESSON in LIFE and LOVE !……39 views
.........">CLICK HERE FOR SPANISH TRANSLATION
TALKEETNA, Alaska -This is a train trip that can hardly rival the Siberian Railway, the Orient Express or any of the world’s other great rail journeys. After all, this is a trip that’s only 54.7 miles long.
But incredible scenery is the attraction on the Alaska Railroad’s local flag stop service that will carry people, luggage, camping supplies, building materials and most anything else you can haul aboard through some of this nation’s most isolated, rugged and beautiful land.
Alaska’s flag stop service is the only one in the country. Tell the engineer where you want to get off, and he’ll stop there – anywhere. Flag him down with a white cloth and he’ll pick you up on the return trip. It’s more like an intracity bus than a train.
But for people living in this area of Alaska, where there are no roads, no trails, no flat spots big enough to land a plane, it’s the only way in or out.
Tourists are welcome, but the flag stop service is mostly for locals and visitors who want to get completely away from it all for a few days. Ask conductor Gary Knutson if there will be any narration along the way, and he says, ”Once in a while someone will yell, ‘Bear!’ but that’s about it.”
The route starts in Talkeetna, a funky town of about 600 people (think Bisbee hauled about 2,900 miles north) that is the jumping-off spot for climbers determined to scale Mount McKinley, the highest peak in North America. The train turns around less than 60 miles north at Hurricane, nothing more than a train maintenance building.
The flag stop train is a one-car, self-contained, selfpropelled unit – a combination locomotive, passenger and baggage car in one.
Three-quarters of the trip parallels the broad Susitna River, which provides unlimited opportunities for hiking, camping and fishing.
Many of the visitors that ride the flag stop, hauling aboard enough stuff to equip a good-size sporting goods store, don’t really know where they want to go. ”They’ll ask us to drop them off at a good spot for fishing or whatever, and we usually have some suggestions,” said Knutson.
High school ROTC students disembark to live off the land.
On this trip, a squadron of Junior ROTC cadets from a high school in Hawaii were aboard with their leader, heading for a five-day wilderness experience. The leader had some idea where he wanted to go, and engineer Pete Hackenberger accommodated their request, stopping the train in what appeared to be the middle of nowhere as the cadets unloaded their gear and hiked into the thick forest growing right up to the tracks.
Hunter and guide Gary Prichard watches Alaska slip by the window as his dog Ginger enjoys the dry ride. Dropped off in the middle of nowhere, two Alaskan schoolkids (below) prepare to float 40 miles down the Susenta River to Talkeetna.
Despite ominous signs warning of federal laws forbidding passengers from entering the engineer’s compartment, operation of the flag stop train is pretty casual. Hackenberger usually runs the train in a ”uniform” of T-shirt and shorts during the summer, frequently bringing his dog, Bear, with him for company.
Hackenberger and Knutson know everyone who lives along the Talkeetna-Hurricane route. Several people who have built cabins far from any sign of civilization have used the train and another larger freight that plies the same tracks to haul in their homes, piece by piece.
Engineer Pete Hackenberger says the Talkeetna-to-Hurricane run is the best job on Alaska’s rails.
At one point along this run, Hackenberger slowed the train and sounded the whistle. A man emerged from the underbrush and Hackenberger waved and tossed him a pack of cigarettes as he went by, fulfilling a request from the day before.
”People are really nice along here,” Knutson said. ”You really get to know them. One guy flagged us down and gave us a covered skillet. It was filled with blueberry pie. So we ate the pie and dropped off the skillet on the next trip.”
On the way back to Talkeetna, three fishermen with their dog flagged down the train for a lift back to town. Hackenberger and Knutson climbed down to help them lift their equipment into the train.
‘No fish and you still have beer?” Hackenberger asked as he lifted a heavy cooler. ”You didn’t read the manual. We might not let you on.”
It is not unusual to see eagles, bear and other wildlife. On this trip, a large moose and her two calves bounded away from the tracks as the train approached. If the weather is good, there are spectacular views of Mount McKinley from the train.
”There certainly are worse jobs,” said Hackenberger. ”I think this is some of the most specular scenery anywhere.”
by MARK KIMBLE
Flag Stop Service Schedule: During the summer, the train runs Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Runs are far less frequent during the winter. The train leaves Talkeetna about noon and returns about 6 p.m.
Fares: The Talkeetna-Hurricane 55 mile route is $100 for adults roundtrip More info: 1 (800) 544-0552 or 907-277-4321 for trip planning expert
<a href=” SPANISH TRANSLATIO
FROM THE NORTH RIM TO THE SOUTH, EAST RIM TO THE WEST THE CANYON IS BEING LOVED TO DEATH AND SQUEEZED FOR EVERY DOLLAR IT CAN PRODUCE…“Leave it as it is. Man cannot improve on it; not a bit. The ages have been at work on it and man can only mar it.”
“Leave it as it is. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the loneliness and beauty of the canyon.”
President Teddy Roosevelt’s first visit to Arizona in May 1903
Arizona’s World Heritage Site, The Grand Canyon, the one spot in the World everyone really needs to see because it is one of the World’s Seven Natural Wonders. It stands out as the number one tourist stop of the American South West attracting up to five million visitors each year. Ninety percent visit the Canyon’s South Rim, others drive to the North Rim and a growing amount of the Las Vegas traffic is crowding onto the Haulapai West Rim, featuring “the SkyWalk” the Tribe’s key piece of a larger tourism development the tribe plans to build along their canyon’s rim, cashing in on the world attraction. Air traffic visiting the Grand Canyon must fall into “air corridors” and fly a counter-clock wise tour of specific features finishing spinning out of the washing machine tour, which is filled with as much air traffic, as most large municipal airports handling hundreds of flights daily. On the canyon’s East Rim at the confluence of the Little Colorado River and the Colorado, the place of emergence for the people of many southwest Indian Tribes, Navajo Tribal members debate over building a tramway to their planned riverside restaurant allowing everyone to visit the inner canyon. Outside money wants to build a 2000 home development in Tusayan AZ, taping the region’s fragile water aquifer, and straining existing supplies. Every corner of the canyon has outside pressure that compromises the Canyon’s “Wilderness” status but for five decades pontoon rafts powered with gas motors have cruised right down the middle of the tall cliffs and those motors alone (and the U.S. Congress) have kept America’s most Iconic Wild Place, the Grand Canyon, from it’s richly deserved and needed “Wilderness” status. Without the motors, the almost 20,000 raft visitors on the Colorado would shrink to 8-9,000 and frankly, “that would be unAmerican and totally unsatisfactory”. Meanwhile, many of these pressures could be mitigated with a “Wilderness” status not to mention new pressures to open old uranium claims and at the same time open new sources of mine waste pollution to Canyon waterways, creeks and streams, some of which are already unsafe for drinking. More than a half million unstable mine tailing ponds, shafts stand ready to drain into western water tables, as well as the Colorado River, a water source for 28 million people scattered across deserts from Tucson to LA.
The Golden Goose fable of our youth preaches that ‘Greed loses all by striving all to gain’! How many times have you circled a South Rim pullout looking for a parking spot ? How many “hard metal” spills in to the Colorado River will be okay, until we realize we are poisoning ourselves ? If you build a 2200 home development next to the Grand Canyon, it just becomes a “big ditch”! There are a lot of reasons for the situations facing the Grand Canyon many sadly are special interests …. One very obvious special interest is that National Park Service funds generated by the wildly successful “Grand Canyon” is funneled off to less successful parks while its own needs suffer. Some Navajos argue jobs are more important than preserving the traditions and sacred lands of the Navajo. Others say without the customs, beliefs and land, nothing else matters. Mining in the region has a history of irresponsibility and negligence, there is more than one superfund cleanup sites looking for funding. The River Runners Assoc. points to a solar-powered boat motor being developed and so all this should fade if the motor sound and emissions disappear. Then there would be no obstacle to the needed “Wilderness” Status. For many years as Republican budgets have strangled NPS funds to repair and rebuild infrastructure often pushing arguments for privatizing Parks, “Coca Cola’s Grand Canyon”, is often suggested as where such actions would led.
Motorist entering the Grand Canyon’s South Entrance is entering one of the NPS busiest gates any where in the United States, four lanes of traffic, bringing in annually 5-6,000 visitors daily. Today lane four is closed and traffic is backed up 13-15 cars deep in lanes one thru three, “Lane four was worn down to the bare dirt, it was really bad–they had to close it. “Just worn out”! Driving through the park the first signs you see ask the public not to approach wildlife or feed it, deer frequently graze on the roadsides and close contact with motorist is always possible. Almost two dozen deer were destroyed in Indian Gardens after becoming addicted to junk food and were slowly starving to death after campers had pampered the deer with handouts that destroyed their wild constitutions.
I pull into the Desert View Point, the first view of the Grand Canyon seen by visitors arriving from the East Entrance Gate, making my way to the Lookout I start getting the idea English may not be the first language of choice, but the common denominator is the Grand Canyon, everyone wants to see it. Sunset is approaching and the building crowd is drifting toward the point jutting out from the South Rim’s iconic Historic Tower. As the sun lowers folks begin to debate whether this is the BEST viewpoint to photograph the Sunset, for many visiting the Grand Canyon is a once in a Lifetime happening, so photographers want to make the most of the moment. Tourist begin squeezing toward the furthest spot to get their iconic photo of their visit to the “big ditch” a photograph destined for a lifetime in a frame. Four English-speaking Ukrainian women take their turn when a Greek man pushes to the viewpoint moments before the sun sinks into the horizon. “We made it”, he proclaims spinning taking in the whole 360 degree panarama, he pulls out his five week old chichuaha pup and hoists the dog above his head giving Marianna the ultimate viewpoint. “She goes everywhere with me, he says I’ve been trying to get here since I was in the fifth grade, he whoops. “We made it” he repeats asking the Ukrainian women to take his picture passing his phone only to have it returned. Dead battery!
The Ukrainian women pull out their iphones and produce the needed pictures and exchanged email addresses. Then the Greek wants one more picture. Pushing Marianna to the women, he faces into the abyass, thrusts his arms into the air and throws his head back like in a rockyesque goal-line celebration or was it more like one does in the bow of a ship as it breaks through the waves and a great sensation of being alive washes over you! “Take the picture”, he asks realizing his lifetime goal. For many people a trip to the Grand Canyon is the trip of a lifetime.
As old as time itself the Grand Canyon has been loved and appreciated almost to death. Four and a half Million Tourists come each year to view the Canyon about the size of Delaware, 277 miles in length and averages about ten miles across. While the Grand Canyon is one of the biggest money makers in the National Park portfolio, it was Jan Brewer,Governor of the State of Arizona who paid to keep the Canyon open when Republicans shut down the US Government. The tourist dollars fallout from a Canyon visit for the State of Arizona is enormous. It is so beneficial that places like Las Vegas, keeps trying to sell it as Nevada’s Grand Canyon, selling flights to the Canyon including flyovers and ground visits via buses or the popular Pink Jeep Tours. Not long ago I heard a NPR broadcaster speaking about Utah’s Grand Canyon and that I can sort of understand. Utah’s still sore because Arizona stole Monument Valley and could be looking for payback…
The 1956 Grand Canyon mid-air collision occurred at 10:30 am when a United Airlines Douglas DC-7 struck a Trans World Airlines Lockheed L-1049 Super Constellation over the within the boundaries of Grand Canyon National Park, resulting in the crash of both airliners. All 128 on board both flights perished. It was the first commercial airline crash to result in more than 100 deaths, and led to sweeping changes in the control of flights in the United States. The location of the crash has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
Garrett Paulsen writes in the SWAviator.Com Blog NPS Special Flight Routes ….flying into the Grand Canyon still allows for sightseeing even though pilots “are operating within certain constraints”. “Flying in the Canyon is no longer a free-for-all”, Paulsen reports.
Then there are the money people ! The Grand Canyon when on hard times and Republican Administrations we have frequently heard the need for Corporate sponsors so America’s Coca Cola Company could have a chunk of the Canyon, placing their logo on signs and no doubt advertising, privatization is not too far off on that path. The Sierra Club recently proclaimed the Canyon “the most endangered park” due to wear and tear, new Uranium mine claims and needs for modernization for the safety of the millions who visit Arizona’s Grand Canyon. As I enter the popular SouthWest Park Entrance and flash my ID and fabulous Senior Park Pass, the friendly Ranger says this entrance sees between 5,000-6,000 people a day and is one of the busiest NPS gates in America. Lane Four was coned off and workmen were scrapping off the old roadway and were preparing to lay down a new surface.Cars begin to stack up ten-thirteen vehicles are politely waiting, after all, we are all on vacation. I move on to the Canyon’s edge. “I’m on the edge of the World”, shrieks a eight year old, his arms spread as wings cast long shadows as the Canyon light moves lower in the West. As old as it is, fans and new technologies, still bring fresh perspectives to the timeless Grand Canyon. Selfies are what the Grand Canyon is all about. Gone are the days of everyone passing their phones or cameras so everyone had a view in their phone gallery. Today the “Selfie Sticks” and “Selfie Apps” which allow you to view your camera’s viewfinder in your phone’s monitor allowing for ease in composition, gone are the “Hail Mary” composition where you just pray you included everyone in the photograph. Couples now just hold out their camera or phone on a extension stick replace the middle man.Like Marianna and endless number of others had pleasant exchanges with people from all over the world in that simple moment when they turned to a strangers and universally ask them to make their picture, technology often loses the human part of life in its rush to make our world better. Whether you have seen the Grand Canyon from the North, East, West or South Rim, from a raft or kayak on the Colorado River or by sitting atop a mule or walking in to Indian Gardens or Phantom Ranch and climbing back out. Everyone enjoys the Canyon at their own pace, some never get enough, there is a large number of folks who walk from atop the South Rim down to Phantom Ranch, cross the Colorado River by bridge, climb up to the North Rim, turn around and go back to the South Rim in one day. Who does that ? A surprising enough number of people who love the challenges the Canyon throws at them and finds the challenge fills their inner soul as well as pushing their bodies to overcome natures obstacles. Rather than being punished on the trail-some want to experience the Canyon on the back of a mule and are willing to pay $550 for one or $960 for two to overnight at Phantom Ranch. But first, riders must be at least 4 feet 7 inches in height and must speak and understand English, must be in good physical condition, should not be afraid of heights or large animals, and cannot be pregnant. Finally must weigh less than $200 full dressed.
Mule rides from the South Rim can be reserved through: Xanterra Parks & Resorts. Call (303) 297-2757 or toll free (888) 297-2757
Xanterra Parks & Resorts, 6312 S Fiddlers Green Circle, Suite 600 N, Greenwood Village, CO 80111 Visit: www.grandcanyonlodges.com
For Day Before waiting list information, call (928) 638-2631 or contact the Bright Angel Lodge transportation desk inside the park.
“I have come here to see the Grand Canyon of Arizona, because in that canyon Arizona has a natural wonder, which, so far as I know, is in kind absolutely unparalleled throughout the rest of the world. I shall not attempt to describe it, because I cannot. I could not choose words that would convey or that could convey to any outsider what that canyon is. I want to ask you to do one thing in connection with it in your own interest and in the interest of the country–to keep this great wonder of nature as it now is. I was delighted to learn of the wisdom of the Santa Fe railroad people in deciding not to build their hotel on the brink of the canyon. I hope you will not have a building of any kind, not a summer cottage, a hotel or anything else to mar the wonderful grandeur, the sublimity, the loneliness and beauty of the canyon.El Tovar Grand Canyon first opened for service in 1905. The premier hotel and restaurant at the Grand Canyon was originally operated by the Fred Harvey company. The El Tovar is been the most sought after lodging for over 100 years. In 2005, the Park celebrated the 100th anniversary for this classic historic National Park lodge. It was originally built to accommodate those distinguished passengers who arrived on the Sante Fe Railway. You can make the El Tovar a part of your Grand Canyon vacation if you plan far enough in advance. If you desire to stay at the El Tovar, we recommend that you call Xanterra Parks and Resorts at 1-888-297-2757 at least 18 months in advance.
ABOUT XANTERRA PARKS & RESORTS Open all year, Xanterra South Rim, L.L.C. offers the largest provider of ”in-the-park lodging.” We are authorized by the National Park Service to provide many visitor services within the park: Six distinctive lodges – all lodges are within walking distance of the South Rim! All provide Fine and casual dining, retail shops in unique, historic buildings and the world famous Grand Canyon mule ride, as well as, motorcoach tours of the park.
“THUNDER RIVER”, Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater once said was his favorite spot in all of Arizona. He was mesmerized by a river appearing wild in the wall of a rock cliff and watching it tumbled down the rock and create Deer Creek, a trusted water source.
One late afternoon sitting alone at a random roadside pullout a car full of tourists pulled into the drive and out jumped one nice Asian lady who did a quick left to right scan with her video camera and jumped back into the crowded car and spun off. I figured she was the trip photographer and they were running late so she jumped out to record the vista and would share her video with her companions at trips end. It is also possible that some find one vista of the Grand Canyon looks a lot like the last, hopefully not! I would like to think others share my love for the beauty of the American SouthWest and no place is more iconic of America’s grandeur and exceptionalism and its beauty changes constantly with the light.
Activist say the Grand Canyon is facing the most serious threat in its 95-year history. It would alter the natural beauty of the canyon and encroach on its borders. Secondly, a major housing and commercial development, jeopardizes the fragile ecology and water supply on the arid South Rim. The Tusayan development would add 2,200 homes and 3 million square feet of commercial space to a town two blocks long. Park officials say existing development around the park and the scarcity of water have already stressed the park’s ability to handle visitors and new projects will only make matters worse.
LA Times reports water is already so precious in the park’s resident elk herd have figured how to operate the Grand Canyon’s new water faucets
and began serving themselves. A young elk defending his water fountain began chasing away all who would drink. The park imports all water for its South Rim hotels, restaurants and amenities from springs on the north side of the canyon. An antiquated aluminum pipeline threads 13 miles though the serpentine fissures on the canyon floor, then up a mile of sheer rock on the South Rim. The pipeline regularly breaks down, requiring helicopters and burros to ferry crews at a cost of $25,000 per service call.
The park would like to replace the water system, but the price tag — as much as $150 million — is more than twice the yearly construction budget for all 400 parks in the National Park Service system.
Park rangers in Grand Canyon National Park in 1995 had to kill off two dozen mule deer that were hooked on junk food left by visitors. The deer had become addicted to Cheetos, Fritos and candy that tourists picked up from a nearby ranch. Once hooked, the deer lost their natural ability to digest vegetation, ranger David Haskell said. “They’ve become in extremely poor health, almost starving.” Haskell called junk food the “crack cocaine of the deer world.”
Only the South Kaibab, Bright Angel, and North Kaibab Trails (known as the Corridor Trails) are maintained and patrolled on a regular basis. These three trails meet at the bottom near the only bridges that span the Colorado River. Together, they create a popular cross-canyon “corridor”. The Corridor Trails offer expansive views, reliable water sources, great camping, and the opportunity for hiking in and out on different trails. Backcountry rangers highly recommend this area, especially for your first Grand Canyon adventure.
Gary Olson recently made the hike into the depths of the Canyon from the South Rim to Phantom Ranch. “Yeah, it was my 14th time to the bottom, probably my last hiking it. Just too tough humping it out, although I did it in just under 6 hours, always a benchmark time for me. This trip was with 11 other members of the Southern Arizona Hiking Club, all but 3 of them older than me. I finished the trips in and out at least an hour and a half faster than many.”
“Last time I hiked the Canyon was at least 8 years ago. Few things change other than the trail and those hiking it. The South Kaibab Trail was in terrible shape, worst I’ve seen it. Huge holes from the mule hooves, which makes for awkward hiking at best and very tiring. One in our group misjudged a hole, tumbled on his face and had to turn back.”
“I passed a drover with his pack train going in and asked about his animals kicking holes in the trail. He said it was rain water causing the holes, which, of course, was bullshit. We discussed it some at the bottom. One contended the park service fills the holes twice a year and we were just early for the latest repair efforts. I don’t know about that, but the constant pressure from the animals certainly exacts a toll on the trail and the hikers for the sake of profits. The Bright Angel was much more user friendly as usual but very slushy the last half mile.”
“Everyone in our group remarked at the number of French people on the trail, noteworthy given recent events in Paris. Lots of Asians, and a good sprinkling of Middle Eastern-looking types.”
“Usual mix of Americans, just younger (or am I just older?). More teens than I’ve seen before, bopping along the trail with no packs and light to inadequate footwear, passing me like I was standing still; they seemed oblivious to the potential for problems. Even toddlers and babes in arms making their way down Bright Angel. I hiked out hopscotching with a group of 6 with a very talkative guide, who sounded like a blowhard from my knowledge about the Canyon. An old guy like me and 5 relatives from 20s to 40s. Strange thing was they were equally divided, half from Maine, half from Hawaii.” Gary Olson
Hikers can walk down the three most popular trails — Bright Angel and South Kaibab from the South Rim, and North Kaibab from the North Rim — as far as they’d like, although the National Park Service discourages trips to the Colorado River and back in a single day. Each of the three proposals for revising the backcountry management plan would institute a day-use permit for hiking more than 5 miles on those trails and at least a $5 fee. Park officials say it’s meant to cut down on overcrowding farther below and improve the experience for hikers. The park would reserve the right to limit group sizes and set daily caps.
The three options for backcountry management took years to develop. Each has a different focus from balancing recreation with resource protection, to solitude to expanding recreation activities. Another option would leave things as is. The public has 90 days to comment. Park officials are trying to get a better handle on how many people head into the canyon and to the most primitive areas with recent proposals to manage the backcountry. They say the trails are too congested and hikers complain of noise, trash along the trailss and long lines for toilets. The park says it will be a year or more before a final decision is made.
For more information, go to www.parkplanning.nps.gov/grca
The park also wants to monitor relatively new activities like rim-to-rim excursions, canyoneering, climbing and short rafting trips on the Colorado River to get backpackers to the other side. The proposals aim to reduce conflicts among outdoor groups seeking the solitude of the backcountry and to ensure the park’s resources are protected. Between 30,000 and 35,000 people a year spend the night in the backcountry, according to park officials.
WHAT IS THE BACKCOUNTRY?
Anything below the rim of the Grand Canyon is considered the backcountry. Much of it has been managed as a wilderness area since 1980, which means motorized travel, power drilling to place bolts into rocks and helicopters largely are prohibited. The backcountry is divided into four zones that range from having developed campsites and lodging, water faucets and well-maintained trails to absolutely no amenities and only natural water sources. Overnight stays in the inner canyon require a backcountry permit.
Havasupai means people of the blue-green waters. The spectacular waterfalls and isolated community within the Havasupai Indian Reservation attract thousands of visitors each year. The Havasupai are intimately connected to the water and the land. This blue- green water is sacred to the Havasupai. It flows not only across the land, but also through each tribal member. When you enter their land, you enter their home, their place of origin.
Each year, over 20,000 visitors hike, ride horses, or fly by helicopter the last 8 miles into the canyon where the Havasupai Indians live. Tourists from around the world come to Havasupai to see this remote Indian village tucked away in the Grand Canyon, to see the last U.S. mail mule train in the country, to see the turquoise blue water and travertine pools of Cateract Creek, and to see the beauty of Navajo, Havasu and Mooney Waterfalls, and to camp, swim and play in this unbelievable setting. Visitors to Havasu Canyon assume all risks while in the canyon and should come prepared. Be aware! Havasu Canyon is a fragile environment and is subject to flash floods as are all canyons in the region.
Supai village, is located in Havasu Canyon, a large tributary on the south side of the Colorado River, is not accessible by road. The Havasupai Tribe administers the land, which lies outside the boundary and jurisdiction of Grand Canyon National Park. Approximate driving time from Grand Canyon Village (South Rim) is four hours. West from Williams on I-40 to Seligman, turn off on U.S. 66. Look for Indian Highway 18.
Example Camping Fees: Note these charges double if you don’t have a reservation…For Party of 4: 2 adults, 2 children ages 14 & 10 Hiking in and camping for 2 nights
Per night Camping Fees
“We have no reservation but here we are anyways “ Camping Fees are doubled ! $651.20 now not $325.60 !
The Grand Canyon Skywalk is located, not in Grand Canyon National Park, but at Grand Canyon West, on the Hualapai Indian Reservation, approximately halfway between Las Vegas and Grand Canyon’s South Rim. It is a three-hour drive from Las Vegas by way of Hoover Dam, a six-hour drive from Phoenix through Wickenburg and Kingman, or a five-hour drive from the Grand Canyon’s South Rim. The other side of the canyon can be seen three miles away. The Skywalk is not directly above the main canyon, or Granite Gorge, which contains the Colorado River. Rather, it instead extends out over a side canyon. No more than 120 persons are permitted on the structure at one time, cameras, cellphones and all personal belongings must be checked and everyone’s shoes are covered with cloth booties to avoid scuffing the glass view of the canyon.
Famed astronaut, Buzz Aldrin, the Apollo lunar explorer lead the first walkers onto the Grand Canyon Glass Skywalk in a private ceremony on March 20, 2007. The Skywalk is the cornerstone of a larger plan by the Hualapai tribe, which hopes the structure will be the catalyst for a 9,000-acre development called Grand Canyon West. Future plans call for a museum, movie theater, VIP lounge, gift shop, restaurants and a golf course. There are plans for a high-end restaurant called The Skywalk Café, where visitors will be able to dine outdoors at the canyon rim. There would be cable cars to ferry visitors from the canyon rim to the Colorado River, which has been previously inaccessible, except by helicopter.
The SKYWALK Legacy Gold Package Includes:
– Entrance Fee to the Hualapai Tribal Lands
– Skywalk ticket to walk on the glass bridge over the Grand Canyon.
– Meal at viewpoint of your choice.
– Photo opportunities with Hualapai Members
– Hop-on-Hop-off shuttle to all 3 viewpoints
$80.94 Per Person: Be sure to allow 3 to 4 hours for your visit
Skywalk ticket to walk on the glass bridge over the Grand Canyon
Meal at viewpoint of your choice and photo ops with Hualapai Members
Hop-on-Hop-off Shuttle to All 3 Viewpoints: Eagle Point, Guano Point, Hualapai RanchVisitors may purchase professional photographs of their visit to the Skywalk in the gift shop. Personal cameras -OR- Cell Phones are NOT allowed on the Skywalk itself; along with other personal property, all must be stored in a locker before entering the Skywalk. Grand Canyon West is located on the Hualapai’s Tribal lands, and the National Park Passes and other Entrance Fee’s DO NOT apply at Grand Canyon West. Info&Reser: 1-888-868-9378 Email:firstname.lastname@example.org
Looking eastward from the popular South Rim, visitors could soon see a construction as workers build restaurants, hotels and shops on a distant mesa on the Navajo Indian reservation. The developers also plan a gondola ride from those attractions to whisk tourists to the canyon floor, where they would stroll along an elevated riverside walkway to a restaurant at the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers.
The question before the Navajo Tribe being argued “Is it the best thing to do to sacrifice this nationally important, internationally important resource, the Grand Canyon, and the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado rivers in the name of economic development?” The confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado River is a sacred place to many Navajo, to the Hopi, to the Zuni and to other tribes, and it’s an internationally important place as well.
“There should be some places that you just do not mine. Uranium is a special concern because it is both a toxic heavy metal and a source of radiation. I worry about uranium escaping into the local water, and about its effect on fish in the Colorado River at the bottom of the gorge, and on the bald eagles, California condors and bighorn sheep that depend on the Canyon’s seeps and springs. More than a third of the Canyon’s species would be affected if water quality suffered.”
— Steve Martin, former Grand Canyon National Park Superintendent
Permanently polluted land and water are a direct result of federal programs that encouraged uranium prospecting on public lands beginning in the 1950s. That mining and milling boom in the Four Corners area lasted for about three decades before going bust. When the bottom dropped out of the uranium market, the industry went belly-up, leaving thousands of poisonous surface sites and deadly groundwater plumes.
In 1979, an earthen dam breached, releasing 1,100 tons of radioactive mill wastes and 90 million gallons of contaminated water into a tributary of the Little Colorado River. In 1984, a flash flood washed tons of high-grade uranium ore from Hack Canyon Mine into Kanab Creek, which drains into Grand Canyon. Located within the Park’s south rim, the Orphan Mine continues to contaminate creeks, prompting the National Park Service to warn backpackers along the Tonto Trail not to use water from two drainages.
Today, the NPS advises against “drinking and bathing” in the Little Colorado River, Kanab Creek, and other Grand Canyon waters where “excessive radionuclides” have been found. Although it is difficult to attribute this contamination to any specific activity, there can be little doubt that the cumulative effects of mining, milling, and transporting radioactive materials are causing long-term, adverse effects on people, water and other resource values in the Grand Canyon region.
Beginning in 2006, the price for uranium began to rise. Thousands of new claims have been filed within watersheds that drain directly into Grand Canyon National Park and the Colorado River. A Canadian-owned company reopened the White Mesa Mill in Blanding, Utah, and began processing uranium for powering nuclear reactors in South Korea and France. Without requiring any revisions to outdated environmental assessments, the BLM automatically allowed the same company to begin opening mines that were abandoned by its previous owners in the 1980s.
“This is bad news for protecting Grand Canyon and tribal sacred sites,” said Roger Clark of the Grand Canyon Trust. “Over the last two decades, we’ve learned how uranium mining can pollute aquifers that feed canyon springs and Havasu Falls. But the Forest Service has ignored that information and failed to require Energy Fuels to take reasonable steps to prevent contamination of water, sacred sites and public lands.”
“This is bad news for protecting Grand Canyon and tribal sacred sites,” said Roger Clark of the Grand Canyon Trust. “Over the last two decades, we’ve learned how uranium mining can pollute aquifers that feed canyon springs and Havasu Falls. But the Forest Service has ignored that information and failed to require Energy Fuels to take reasonable steps to prevent contamination of water, sacred sites and public lands.”
The Forest Service first approved the Canyon mining plan in 1986, despite a challenge from the Havasupai tribe. Uranium prices plummeted shortly thereafter and the mine closed in 1990 before producing any uranium. The Forest Service allowed the Canyon Mine to reopen in 2012 without a plan update or environmental assessment to reflect the extensive changed circumstances since the original review and approval. These changes include the 2010 designation of the Red Butte traditional cultural property, reintroduction of the endangered California condor in the vicinity of the Canyon Mine, and the 2012 decision to ban new uranium mining across 1 million acres near the Grand Canyon.
“This uranium project could haunt the Grand Canyon region for decades to come,” said Katie Davis with the Center for Biological Diversity. “Uranium mining leaves a highly toxic legacy that endangers human health, wildlife and the streams and aquifers that feed the Grand Canyon. It’s disappointing to see the Forest Service prioritizing the extraction industry over the long-term protection of a place as iconic as the Grand Canyon.”
Geologists have warned that uranium mining could deplete and contaminate aquifers that discharge into Grand Canyon and that cleaning them up would be next to impossible. A 2010 U.S. Geological Survey study found elevated uranium levels in soil and water sources associated with past uranium mining.
This summer U.S. District Judge David Campbell denied a moritorium to halt uranium mining at the Canyon Uranium Mine. Only six miles from the Canyon’s south rim, The Havasupai Tribe and several conservation groups had challenged the U.S. Forest Service to reopen the mine without consulting with the Havasupai or completing an environmental review. Opponents fear the mine endangers wildlife, endangered species, Tribal Cultural values and the risk of toxic uranium waste contaminating the aquifers and streams in the Grand Canyon feeding the Colorado River.
“We will continue to fight to protect Grand Canyon, its waters and its watershed,” said Sandy Bahr, director of Sierra Club’s Grand Canyon Chapter. “The Forest Service should consider the harm this mine could cause to the groundwater and ultimately the waters in Grand Canyon National Park. We are extremely disappointed in the judge’s failure to recognize that.”
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Life rarely gives us second-chances, but they do happen. Oro Valley Arizona has a second chance to decide what their Future should look like. Town residents have banded into two groups, recall elections are November 3rd, emotions have flared-assault charges and lawsuits filed and election signs vandalized and tossed into the bushes. The usual politics one finds in Small Town USA all over the country. Oro Valley’s problem: it’s one of the most beautiful places in the United States and finding the proper balance between preserving the Canon Del Oro Valley’s “Drop Dead Gorgeous” status and developing the town wanna be city so everybody is happy. Making everyone happy will be a tall order.
Mainly, because Oro Valley has become a developer’s paradise and any change there will be bumping heads with BIG bucks. Oracle Road, which is State Highway 77, which is the town’s main drag has been a 7 mile construction zone for so long know one can remember when it started. Much of this work is ramping up and adding another lane, taking two lanes to three, making room for future development. They are also building expensive wild life crossings, both over and under styles. In Colorado they have found predators just await their prey on the blind side of these crossings and just gobble till they are full. Speedtrap.org lists 80,000 bothersome speed revenue mills and knows Hwy 77.
Developers in Oro Valley in recent years, have squeezed in 800 apartments, providing housing for Iowa farmers who want to get out of the snow. Sun Dorado, the next generation of Mark-Taylor Apts, has the prime spot nestled into the Santa Catalina range at 1st Ave and Oracle Road, featuring the “largest health center you have ever seen in a apartment complex”, dog-friendly and walking access to all the unique shopping nearby. Mountain views cost extra, it’s cheaper to stare at Oro Valley and Oracle Rd, for a one bedroom it’s $930 with a view, large kitchen and a closet but a three bedroom with a view tops out around $1650-but up to six people can sign the lease. No one bedrooms available now, but some might open up.
That boutique shopping experience as you leave San Dorado’s lighted gated community begins with CVS Drugs; store number 10,006 now found on most corners near you, the next shop is a FIRM mattress shop and everyone needs one, the next is a Nail Spa, also found everywhere. So the question facing the voters, what premium do you place on living in one of the most beautiful places in the U.S., or is growth-any growth worthwhile ? Some voters might argue that building all those apartments at the junction of lst Ave and Oracle Road and providing pads for businesses found on most every street corner in Tucson on a spot which was the community’s focal point of the Catalina Mountains might have been insensitive and might better have been a green space for the community to feed their souls and revel in the beauty that GOD has provided. That would not have made someone rich but it would have made the community richer.
Oro Valley has some nice green spaces, along the (dry) riverbed–Steam Pump Ranch was a nice idea until it was squeezed in by gas stations and commercials strip malls, something was lost. Lunching on day at the amazing Saguaro Cafe in Oro Valley my dog engaged me in a conversation with two realtors who suggested Oro Valley’s real prosperity will come from commercial development along Tangerine Road. “It will be the next Speedway”, they agreed since it is a major I-10 to Oro Valley corridor.
Now Oro Valley has a second chance to make the right decisions. It is my opinion the present mayor, will continue to fuel development since a large portion of his election campaign has been financed by the folks doing the building, that’s the way politics works. Mayor Satish Hiremath is running to hold onto his office in the Nov. 3 recall election along with town council members Lou Waters, Joe Hornat and Mary Snider. The recall was initiated by the Oro Valley Citizens for Open Government after the Town Council voted 4-3 in December to buy El Conquistador Country Club and increase the town’s sales tax to raise money to remodel the facility into a community and recreation center. The council members facing recall all voted in favor of the proposal. The facility was purchased for $1 million and includes 324 acres, 45 holes of golf, 31 tennis courts and two swimming pools. A 31,475 square-foot building that requires renovation will be paid for with a half cent sales tax that took effect in March.
Oro Valley was incorporated in 1974 and has grown from a shady Oasis to one of the more prosperous communities in Arizona with almost 130,000 people within seven miles, incomes averaging around $70,000, it has been voted Best Place to Raise Kids, Good Place to Retire because of the strong property values and low crime. Truth is, Oro Valley and the Tortolita Mts
for decades was everyone’s backyard. Quail Hunters reveled in the explosion of birds they found there, javalina hunters still tell tales of the hunt and folks like me, explored and hiked, searched for the wild herd of mustangs running free in those hills. After the land swap, when Governor Bruce Babbitt, created Catalina State Park and in return made possible Rancho Vistoso Sun City, locked gates started appearing–pushing long-time Tortolita Mountain lovers from their haunts. Thinking maybe when they are through building, I thought, but that is when the gated communities started popping up, so for most of us, it was goodbye to the Tortolitas. Growth has continued unabated, in 2008 when housing all over the U.S. died. Oro Valley barely skipped a beat sales slowed and inventory faded but not like the rest of the country.
In the early 1970’s John Ratliff and his associates requested that Pima County rezone a 4,000-acre parcel of land lying east of Oracle Road, north of Tucson. The property known as Rancho Romero was located adjacent to the western slopes of the Coronado National Forest’s Santa Catalina Mountains. The proposed development included a variety of housing units that would accommodate 17,000 people, which would surround golf courses along the Canada de Oro and Sutherland Washes. When this rezoning request came before the Pima County Planning and Zoning Commission, there was so much opposition from the public that the proposed plan was put on hold. Tucson residents said they preferred the preservation of this area as open space, with developed recreational facilities, this was the beginning of Catalina State Park. But not the last attempt by developers to put subdivisions on the east side of Oracle Road.
For me, the building East of Oracle Road is the most offensive. West of Oracle, growth will continue north until it hits Oracle Junction, nothing will change that. More than once, developers have attempted massive subdivisions featuring more than 500 homes, shops, condo and apartments east of Oracle Road where Tangerine Road intersects, Sabino Springs
was one name, others will come and they will keep coming until they get their prize butted up against Catalina State Park. Folks will awake in the campground and stare into someone’s back yard. SunChase Holdings Inc. pledged “a high quality project” that would be tasteful and would fit in with the surroundings. Another attempt for this prize was fought off in 1990, with a progrowth Mayor, they will get the land and that will be the beginning of the end for the Catalina Mountain Range. Sunchase said they needed 85 acres with up to five homes per acre, 13 acre of five home per acre and up 11 acres of commercial and offices. In between they plan to weave hiking and biking trails, blending stores, offices and a mix of housing types. One caveat floated was the possibility of a Tram from Oro Valley to Mt Lemmon, making Oro Valley a must stop for all tourist blowing through Tucson. Much shorter ride than when it was first suggested from downtown Tucson decades ago.
With the new animal crossings on Oracle Road, any concern about “wildlife corridor” between the Catalina and the Tortolita Mountains pretty much go out the window, regardless of major habitat fragmentation. A short while ago I listen to an Oro Valley resident wish she was living in SaddleBrook just up the road. She was simply amazed by all the wildlife those residents enjoy. After the bright lights of Oro Valley chased off the last of the Desert Bighorn living atop Pusch Ridge-the town adopted the Bighorn as a symbol of the community erecting several life-sized statues throughout the town. Today new bighorn have been transplanted atop the nearby ridge but disease and mountain lions have taken their toll.
Many years ago, I was out-raged by the wall built to block the view across the Canon Del Oro Wash that eliminates out the most perfect view of the mountains. I was sure they just wanted to be sure everyone had their eye on the road (now they are texting) but after while I realized how wrong I was. That wall is a sound barrier for all the expensive homes that soon will be built above the road level and on top of the first foothills, most money gets the highest spot. No one will pay big bucks for the spectacular sunset views if the road noise from below drowns out the elevator music.
It is all going to change soon, unless it is stopped now. The Town of Oro Valley Special Recall Election will be held Tuesday November 3, 2015. A polling place election, voters may request an early mail ballot, for more information call the Pima County Recorder 520-724-4330…
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The peopling of the South West is a story best told by pottery. Ceramic pottery can tell archaeologist what they ate, where it was made, who made it and with whom the owner traded or aligned with…in a sense what was important to that culture and how successful or influential the culture was, how long it survived, and finally where did they go. But until tree ring dates, the chronology of all the ruins of the southwest, was a mystery until one afternoon when two pieces of charcoal crystalized everything that was known about the prehistory of the South West. In the one hundred years since man began probing the earth beneath their feet looking for secrets from the past much has been learned revealing to archaeologist how little they know or understand about early residents. So new strategies have evolved aided by the quick fresh minds of the next generation of archaeologist, new software that peels back the past, reveals pigment lost by time, using the sum knowledge from the past to build on future studies by incorporating all the data from all the earlier digs, aided by data from neighboring or regional sites. But more importantly, these new-age archaeologist, are tearing down fences that have long existed in the Cliff Valley and getting a first hand look at the prehistoric cultures that once called southwestern New Mexico home.
The 2015 Preservation Archaeology Field School staff is a combination of a lot of talent from Archaeology Southwest, Desert Archaeology, ASU and University of Arizona to structure a learning experience for a group of fourteen students who signed up for this opportunity to learn the general field and team work and the lab techniques necessary to extract science and knowledge from the soil.
Students are exposed to the principles of preservation archaeology, acquire the basic skills of excavation and survey, develop working strategies and write notes and reports that apply the logic of archaeological thinking to fieldwork, laboratory analysis, and applying the data we gather to answering anthropological questions. Finally think critically of issues about archaeological ethics.
As prehistoric man moved about he enjoyed a nomadic lifestyle of visiting old haunts places where they might have dropped some seed but most usually had luck hunting or gathering seasonal fruit. As more migrants entered the area, the nomadic Mogollon hunter found himself being crowded out and his old haunts now taken by the Anasazi fleeing their homes south east of Mesa Verde and looking for places to farm and live in safety. Local nomads soon were forced to stay at home and watch the crops.
The Mogollon and the Anasazi Material Cultures merge and disappear as the two groups diverge. Some Archaeologist believe the Kayenta Anasazi was traveling light, carrying what they could, leaving most of their culture behind. The nomadic Mogollon become seditary farmers, adopting some of the practices of their new neighbors, and soon they look pretty much alike. Except for ceramics! Archaeologist believe the Kayenta maintained contact with folks back home, perhaps opening trade connections with folks back home but meanwhile looping in the new immigrants settlements and establishing a trade network. When the bottom dropped out of the Colorado Plateau and everyone started looking for someplace wetter, the Kayenta knew where to go and who to stay with. They thought!
Rough corrugated ceramic pots are a clay signature for the Kayenta Anasazi and corrugated pottery left a trail from the Arizona Strip with some eventually reaching the Rio Grande and more was found south into Arizona Rim Country, visiting Mogollon Pueblos like Kinishba, Grasshopper Pueblo, Point-of-Pines, Cline Terrace. The Kayenta would build fortified hilltops above the floodplain along the Gila and San Pedro Rivers. Many of these sites are linked by signal towers to quickly communicate up and down the stream. The black and white pottery found at Salado sites suggests to some Archaeologist that the Kayenta continued to trade north to south until the end. But then Salado appears and everything changes. Four different archaeologist saw “Salado” arrive in different areas of the South West, but Harold Galdwin of Gila Pueblo received the credit for defining the Salado Culture but 85 years later we still disagree on much.
Agreement seems to be centering on Salado as a religion characterized by a distinct polychrome pottery and adobe compounds. The Salado message centered on fertility and cooperation, instead of honoring elite rulers, and some archaeologist have called it the first feminist movement, because in the day it was believed women did the most potting of clay and saved the South West from self destructing by intervening and preaching peace and working together. Others say shaman wheeled great power by producing the Mimbres Pottery characterized by “kill holes” which released the soul of the potter from the pot after his death.
The pottery design adapted reflected Mesoamerican imagery and changed in time but
researchers believe folks began thinking of themselves as Hohokam Salado or Kayenta Salado.
The Archaeology Southwest Preservation Field School in it’s 5th season is an important component of our Upper Gila research, writes Karen Schollmeyer. “The results of this work contributes to Archaeology Southwest’s research on the formation and dissolution of late prehistoric communities. Dinwiddie’s occupation in the 1300s occurred during a period of substantial changes in the Southwest. Centuries earlier, large Classic Mimbres period villages were inhabited throughout the area. Around 1130, residents left these villages, and local populations remained small and scattered for the next 150-200 years. In the 1300s, large villages again began to form in the area. While people in the Upper Gila area were aggregated in large communities in the late 1300s, much of the rest of the southern Southwest was experiencing population decline. Our research examines the effects of the 14th century influx of residents to the Upper Gila. How did migrants from diverse cultural groups form cohesive villages? How did they structure social relationships with existing communities in their new home? How were social and natural resources affected by the long-term patterns of human population aggregation, dispersal, and re-aggregation? Our research at Dinwiddie will provide insights into these questions.”
Will Russell, one of ASU’s ceramics experts, oversees the trowel work and lectures the students crawling in the dirt “to move
from what you know to what you don’t”. Emphasizing the feel of the trowel and how it changes as it moves through the fill. “You can kinda feel these powdery, sugar forms on the floor, so you can see the visual clues…flecks of white (from the floor). You learn to read the vibrations he says. The trowel vibrates differently when hitting large particles and sounds differently–many different senses come in to play when excavating. Time is tight for the group they are half way through the 40 day class and they still have digging to do. Some of their time is filled with their preparation of displays for the community updates, reports, class trips to Silver City, the Gila Cliff Dwellings, Chaco Canyon, Acoma and the Zuni Pueblo. Screening is essential to separate the ceramics from the dirt and every fourth screen is window screen diameter to make sure nothing of importance is slipping through like the bones of fish and prairie dog which supplemented the prehistoric diet here in west central New Mexico.
My first morning in Mule Creek where the field school is headquartered at the Rocker Diamond X Ranch there was a morning drizzle and students scurried around before sunrise eating breakfast, brushing teeth and making lunches and preparing for their day. Everyone has a job each day, each serves as a cog in the wheel and things happened smoothly until dinner when Mary shows up with dinner for the hungry staff, students and visitors. Students divide up into the field crews, survey and the experiemental crew who spend the day with archaeologist Allan Denoyer who is a master flintnapper and he and his crews are putting the finishing touches on a Salado Pueblo which they have constructed during the past field seasons. Denoyer has reverse engineered the adobe pueblos the field crews are excavating at the Dinwiddie Site with hopes the students will gain a greater insight into pueblos by building one as well as digging up what remains of numerous melted room blocks. Students learn to skin the timbers using stone axes and how to construct the roof. All knife work is from obsidian blades that slice as quick and accurately as steel.
Students are responsible for blog posts, and displays for community outreach projects which hold public meetings in the region giving archaeologist the opportunity to explain to residents what they are looking for, what they found and often those exchanges open doors to archaeology not presently known and the field school survey crew go out looking for sites people tell them about. One student turned up a ten-room pueblo which was previously unrecorded. The survey crew often camps, to allow more boots on the ground than drive time. The easy duty appears to be the field work until you see there is no shade, students on their hands and knees with metal trowels pushing back the dirt from a solid polished adobe floor.
For the past few days they have turned up almost 50 ceramic marbles of varying diameters and for whose purpose is unknown, today, they turned up a nice 3/4 groove axe head next to the unique t-shaped doorway recently unearthed. At room one, a cry alerts us, a metate and a mano, together, intact–beautifully preserved.
A vocational archaeologist working in the 1960s and 1970s and some early work contributed important information to our knowledge of Salado archaeology. These excavations did not follow collection and reporting standards of their era, and information from these older excavations is now unavailable. Collections from these excavations were housed in private museums and everything disappeared upon their owners’ deaths, scattering collections so that they are no longer available for research. The Dinwiddie site saw several field seasons of avocational excavation, with 37 rooms in two room blocks partially excavated by Jack and Vera Mills (1972) they are thought to have taken more than a hundred pots from these rooms, some of those pots reside today in Safford, Arizona at the Museum for Eastern Arizona State.
Archaeology SouthWest’s interest in the Cliff Valley “Dinwiddie” site came as a part of the Upper Gila research, using the field school as an important component of the research, searching for the formation and dissolution of late prehistoric communities. Dinwiddie’s occupation in the 1300s came at a time of big changes in the Southwest. Centuries earlier, large Classic Mimbres period villages had inhabited throughout the area. Around 1130, those residents left these villages, and local populations remained small and scattered for the next 150-200 years. In the 1300s, large villages again began to form. People in the Upper Gila moved into large communities in the late 1300s, while much of the southern Southwest was experiencing population decline. Karen Gust Schollmeyer, believes the Dinwiddie dig will provide insights into the 14th century influx of residents to the Upper Gila. In 2008, Archaeology Southwest received a National Science Foundation grant to study the Salado phenomenon in the greater Upper Gila region of southwestern New Mexico, an area traditionally assigned to the Mogollon archaeological culture area
“The Archaeology Southwest Field School was a life changing experience. I learned more about the southwest in those 6 weeks than in my two and a half years prior exploring in Southeastern Arizona. I had just graduated from Cochise College with a degree in Anthropology and immediately attended the ASW Field School with no real experience in archaeology. I am so fortunate to be given such a great opportunity to learn. From the field trips to the guest lectures, there was never a dull moment around the camp. Even in our down time we used the skills we had learned from experimental archaeology and our guests to do assorted crafts. The research the group of students accomplished was also inspiring, and attention grabbing. Post-field school I am more interested in Archaeology than ever. I plan to use my Non-Profit Leadership and Management degree at Arizona State University to get myself and others involved in the Archaeology field.”..Joe Hall
Field school students had some unstructured time in the evenings. But most worked on their field reports, blogs and burning designsinto their wood Atlatl throwing sticks and practicing for the session-ending toss off, competing for prizes. On the stove that night was a pot of beeweed being reduced to a dark tar for a possible paint. Walnut was also being boiled down for the same purpose. A flat stone was being baked in the oven with glaze on the surface like a Piki Bread stone. Outside on the grill was a large pot of boiling water reducing a road-killed raccoon to bleached bones for a bone kit that allows archaeologist to compare known bones with unknown bones to aid in field identification. To that same purpose, during the last season, staff gathered a few shovels and dug up a road-killed deer that had been collected and buried so insects might clean the bones. The dug it up and everyone seemed pretty happy about how well this skeleton turned out.
Digital Antiquity is a nonprofit grassroots effort to get all Archaeological data archived by creating a multi-institutional, non-profit organization dedicated to overseeing the use, development, and maintenance of the Digital Archaeological Record (tDAR), an international repository for the digital records of archaeological investigations, organizations, projects, and research.
One of Digital Antiquity’s key objectives is to foster the use of tDAR and ensure its financial, technical, and professional sustainability. Use of tDAR has the potential to transform archaeological research by providing direct access to digital data from current and historic investigations along with powerful tools to analyze and reuse it.
Digital Antiquity was created through the collaboration of archaeologists, library scientists, and administrators from the Archaeology Data Service, the University of Arkansas, Arizona State University, the Pennsylvania State University, the SRI Foundation, and Washington State University.
By enhancing preservation of and access to digital archaeological records, the mission of Digital Antiquity to permit researchers to more effectively create and communicate knowledge of the long-term human past; enhance the management, interpretation, and preservation of archaeological resources; and provide for the long-term preservation of irreplaceable records
Using Decorrelation Stretch to Enhance Rock Art Images
By Jon Harman, Ph.D. (email@example.com) Web site: http://www.DStretch.com
Decorrelation stretch, an image enhancement technique first used in remote sensing, can be usefully applied to rock art. In pictograph images from Baja California, Utah and Arizona I demonstrate its ability to bring out elements nearly invisible to the eye and to improve visualization of difficult sites. A decorrelation stretch plugin to the imaging program ImageJ is available from the author, free for personal use. It’s free but suggested contribution is $50. You can make a contribution via PayPal. My account is JonHarman “at” prodigy.net, if you want to send a check you will find his address on the email he sends back.
Decorrelation stretch was developed at JPL and it has been used in remote sensing to enhance multispectral images. NASA used it to enhance Mars Rover images. DStretch has become a very useful tool for archaeologists
involved in the study and documentation of rock art. Its enhancement techniques can bring out very faint pictographs almost invisible to the eye. Subtle differences in hue are enhanced to puzzle out faint elements. Use of DStretch is simple as just hitting a button, but it also contains sophisticated tools for the manipulation of false color images. Because the enhancement works by increasing differences in hue, the technique gives better results for pictographs than petroglyphs.
The technique applies a Karhunen-Loeve transform to the colors of the image. This diagonalizes the covariance (or optionally the correlation) matrix of the colors. Next the contrast for each color is stretched to equalize the color variances. At this point the colors are uncorrelated and fill the colorspace. Finally the inverse transform is used to map the colors back to an approximation of the original. DStretch supports several different colorspaces, the image is converted from RGB to the colorspace, the calculation and transformation is performed, and then the colors are converted back to RGB before writing into a digital image.
The most common color found in pictographs is red, followed by black, then white, then rarely other hues. Often the rock shelter or cave wall is reddish or blackened. There are common types in the color distributions of pictograph images and this causes a consistency in the decorrelation stretch enhancements. DStretch works well to enhance red pigment but suppresses white and blacks. By bringing out the red painting and suppressing the background shades it can help clarify image composition.
DStretch is a plugin to ImageJ which is a full-featured imaging program. It is written in Java and can run on PC’s, Mac’s and Linux computers. When the button is pressed the plugin calculates the covariance matrix of the image colors (within the chosen colorspace) and then determines the transformation. Different decorrelation results are possible by selecting different parts of the image.
Different colorspaces give different results. DStretch has implemented the algorithm in the standard RGB and LAB colorspaces and also in the colorspaces: YDS, YBR, YBK, LDS, LRE. These colorspaces are modifications of the YUV or LAB colorspaces that give good decorrelation stretch results on images of rock art. The YDS and LDS colorspaces are good for general enhancements and can bring out faint yellow pigments. YBR and espeically LRE enhance reds. YBK can help with black and blue pigments and also enhances yellows well. The user can design their own colorspaces using the YXX and LXX buttons. The enhanced image is false color, the color scan be radically different from the original. In Expert Mode DStretc has the ability to shift the hues in the enhanced image to increase contrast.
Each image enhances differently, depending on its own unique distribution of colors. Another useful enhancement technique, not related to decorrelation stretch, is the manipulation of the hue and saturation of the image. DStretch (in expert mode) can do hue histogram equalization and saturation stretching. DStretch also contains a tool that allows a region of the enhanced image to be isolated by hue and then added back to the original image. This can be used to isolate an enhanced element then return it to the original image.
Using 3D or “White Light” Scanners can uncover details from the past and today there is no better way to record a complex object than with a high resolution 3D white light scanner. The fringe projection method used in 3D white light scanning make non-contact digitization of art and sculpture and historical artifacts possible. Direct comparisons can be made of dimension and shape. Structured light Scanning allows revisitation of any object over time, creation of databases, redrawings of cross sections and 3D volume calculations. Today 3D scan data has a growing value in archaeology, paleontology and cultural heritage, collection of 3D scan data provides a digital archival record allowing access in remote locations, and the ability to produce replicas useful for exhibits.
One strategy under consideration at the Preservation Field School is the possibility of being able to actually see the “fingerprints” of the potter in ceramics. If that study moves forward there is a hope that not only will archaeologists know where the “Ancient Ones” went, they may be able to follow the fingerprints of a single women walking across an prehistoric landscape to her final resting place.
Kristin Safi in this month’s Kiva Journal outlines his “least cost” migration routes from the San Juan region to the Rio Grande Pueblo area. In this study 1200 possible routes are identified but many overlap and others had more costly terrain boiling the study down to 30 routes but when known archaeological sites were factored in, five routes were identified as the probable exodus path taken by the Kayenta Anasazi as they left the Northeast Arizona. Three of the routes probably were used by the later migrations because closer Pueblos were filled up earlier by early migrations. As for the question, “Where did the Ancient Ones go!” Not only do we know where the Kayenta went, we know why. FEAR!
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