Blasting through a cathedral

  • Jane Young of U. of N.M., Herman Agoyo and Ike Eastvold

    Ike Eastvold photo
  • Cover of book "Voices from a Sacred Place"

  When Congress established Petroglyph National Monument in 1990, on the edge of Albuquerque, N.M., its rationale was straightforward: "to protect the cultural and natural resources of the area from urbanization and vandalism." Just a few years later another threat to the monument emerged. To accommodate the desire of developers, the New Mexico delegation backed a bill in 1997 that would allow a new, six-lane highway designed to speed traffic to new homes. That bill passed this year despite the opposition of Albuquerque's new mayor, Jim Baca, all 19 Pueblo tribes and the feisty nonprofit citizens' group, Friends of the Albuquerque Petroglyphs. The Friends, led by Ike Eastvold, hasn't given up the fight; its 64-page booklet tells why a road through this "church" is a terrible idea. It's called Voices from a Sacred Place: In Defense of Petroglyph National Monument, and it includes brief testimonials, poems and essays by 26 writers, including Rudolfo Anaya, Polly Schaafsma, John Nichols, Michael Frome and Gregory McNamee; it's edited by Verne Huser.


Eastvold can be reached at 2920 Carlisle NE, Albuquerque, NM 87110 (505/255-7679).


* Betsy Marston





EXCERPTS FROM A SACRED PLACE:


"Scholars have yet to work out the deepest meanings of these petroglyphs. Perhaps they never will. Theirs is a race against time, not only because of the natural forces of aging and erosion, but also because in so many places they are threatened by vandalism and other wantonly destructive acts.


"A Painted Desert site, for instance, now bears a large spray-painted sign urging us to "Remember Croatia," a place much in the news but very far away from Anasazi country; a lovely rendering of a deer overlooking the Salt River Canyon is now marred by a declaration of love of one Bobby for one Yvette. I cannot begin to comprehend the impulse that drives some moderns to obliterate or amend the work of the ancients, but I have just returned from China, where I have seen the results of that impulse up close in the rubble of Buddhist and Taoist temples razed by Red Guards during the Cultural Revolution. Only now, a generation later, have the Chinese been able to begin to repair the damage of that calamitous time, when a whole nation seemed bent on destroying its past.


"We are more advanced in America, of course, at least on an institutional level. We destroy our monuments not for ideological reasons, but for profit."


* Gregory McNamee,


freelance writer, 1997





"Growing up in the ranks of the Pueblo fathers, there were eight clan chiefs and about four society chiefs there. I was allowed into the sacred house by an old man and he was quiet. I got water and wood, kept the fire going in the fireplace. Those old fellows were about 90 years old. I heard them speak. These old men that I grew up with have led me to be more respectful, to wait for what is important.


"This one particular man was a walking encyclopedia, you might say, very interesting. I remember going with him to the sacred place at the petroglyphs. "This is a place of joy and comfort," he told me. There I learned my culture was real."


* Phillip Lauriano,


Sandia Pueblo Councilor and


Turquoise Kiva Chief, March 5, 1993


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