Saturday, August 4, 2018


BOCA NEGRA CANYON – A little known fact is the route between current day Mexico City and Santa Fe has been a crossroads for trade spanning centuries, and possibly thousands of years. Ever since reading Death Comes for the Archbishop by Willa Cather, I developed a passion for Southwestern Literature. Stories such as those told by author Eugene Manlove Rhodes, of Pasó Por Aquí. He takes the title for his classic western novella from those same words, the words Don Juan de Oñate carved on the sandstone wall of El Morro, otherwise known as Inscription Rock. Or another tale, The Little Lion of the Southwest, whereby author Marc Simmons depicts the life of Manuel Antonio Chaves, also appearing in Cather’s book as a minor character. A descendent of one Oñate’s conquistadores, Chaves participated in a raid on the Navajo, and in retaliation, was severely wounded. At the age of 16, as the only survivor, he walked home 200 miles without provisions. Long before any European set foot on the path, the Anasazi settled Canyon de Chelly and dispersed the Hopi, Navajo and Acoma people into the surrounding areas. From the Acoma Pueblo to the green pond of El Morro, the landscape is as stark and emblematic as those that passed this way, down the lonesome trail. Photographs of these stone etchings, taken at Boca Negra Canyon historical site, reflect the hand of an ancient ancestor that scratched symbols in the black rocks. Were these people the first to walk the trail? Yes, that's what I imagine. 

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