One of my measure of goodness of an experience is how much curiosity it excites, how many tangents I wander down because of it, what I learn as a result. By this metric, New Mexico has been HC.
It started with a roadside historical maker. According to the marker, the Apache first acquired horses after the Pueblo Revolt of 1680. Until the moment I read the sign, I’d assumed that the conquistadors had ‘leaked’ horses starting about 5 minutes after they pitched up on shore. But if it wasn’t 1520-something, but 160 years later, my amazement at the brief blossoming of southwestern and plains horse culture increases. A way of life that left a mark across the planet lasted for something like 200 years. People got horses, mounted up, became consummate riders, made and adapted their culture and then… Crazy Horse and Wounded Knee and dead buffalo and the rez.
I knew that there had been long-time trade between southern Mexico and the southwest, but holy carp, Scarlet Macaw feathers? And for all I know, given the macaw perches in Paquime, perhaps the birds themselves? My first encounter with macaw feathers and trade routes was at the Mimbres Culture Heritage Site.
Macaws and parrots popped up again in a film at the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument; even today the Hopi people have a Parrot Clan.
Another connection with something I’m interested in – some think that the Mogollon people migrated south when the drought of the 1200s made living in Gila cliff dwellings untenable. The genetic evidence suggests they ended up in Copper Canyon (where folks continue to live in cliff dwellings). Chatting with a ranger at the National Monument, I had a small inspiration: a ride from Chaco Canyon (northernmost trading center), through Paquime, to Copper Canyon. Maybe next fall? Regardless, I need to read more about the Pueblo revolt and ancient trade routes.