By William deBuys
This strange publication is a whole account of the heavily associated ordinary and human historical past of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico, a quarter distinct in its wealthy blend of ecological and cultural variety.
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Extra resources for Enchantment and exploitation: the life and hard times of a New Mexico mountain range
Today the Tewa comprise six pueblos: San Juan, Santa Clara, San Ildefonso, Nambe, Tesuque, and Pojoaque. The Towa, meanwhile, have only one village, which is Jemez Pueblo in the mountains west of the Rio Grande, but they formerly inhabited the once powerful and populous pueblo of Pecos, at the southern end of the Sangres, until its abandonment in 1838. By then, the Tano had likewise abandoned their pueblos and joined other groups. The Pueblos of today remain a considerable mystery to the Anglo nation that surrounds them.
Each pair also reported that the unfinished earth was still too hazy a place for them to see far, but away in the distance they could make out the outline of a tall mountain. These were, and are, the sacred mountains of the four directions. In the west, powerful from its nearness, stands Chicoma, the tallest mountain of the Jemez Range, which is sacred not just to the Tewa, but to Taos, Jemez, Cochiti, and others. The mountain of the south, farther away, is called Turtle Mountain by the Tewa because of the humpbacked shape it presents to the north.
Book Two begins with a subtle shift in the tide of Anglo conquest. The presence in the mountains of parties of the Wheeler Survey, inventorying the natural resources of the region, presaged the rise of scientific and entrepreneurial approaches to land use, strongly aided and subsidized by the federal government. This period also saw a radical disjuncture in the natural history of the region as the exploitation of the land reached a new and unsustainable intensity. In a relatively short span of time, elk and bighorn sheep were exterminated in their mountain habitat, the last refuge of a formerly much broader territory.