Takaji My Relatives
On Tuesday April 27 I was flown by the production staff of a new paranormal investigation TV show, along with a number of paranormal investigators, and other experts, to the St James hotel in the north eastern New Mexico village of Cimarron to explore the possbilities of otherwordly activity in the hotel itself and in a near-by mesa called Urraca, both of which have a reputation of beng haunted.
Information on the hotel and its reputation can be found by clicking the link above, but the main reason I was there was to give my opinion on the local legends that mentioned Native Indigenous influence on the paranormal activities at the neighboring mesa which happens to be located inside an enormous boyscout ranch.. Some of this reputation is pretty outlandish as attested by the following narration posted on a discusion site by a former boyscout.
Around 750 A.D., an elite group of "Ancestral Puebloans" started to build in Chaco Canyon. This elite group was either from Mesoamerica or strongly influenced by the Toltec Culture. As evidenced by an extensive trade in turquoise, pipestone, shells, carved flutes, mosaic baskets, and fine pottery, as well as, copper bells and macaw feathers from Meso-America...five great Indian cultures thrived in the western hemisphere for centuries: the Incas of South America, and four from central and southern Mexico, Mayan, Olmec, Zapotec, and Teotihuacan. Indians from these Meso-American (Mexico City to Honduras) cultures moved into the southwestern United States. They brought with them their knowledge and technological advancements (Southwest Indian Council). Many archeologists agree on a wide trade network between the Southwest Indians and Mexico, especially with the Toltec, but discount the migration from Mexico. These archeologists believe the Southwest Indians emerged from the archaic period (Stone).
Over the next two centuries (800-1000 A.D.), the Ancestral Puebloans spread across every arable acre of the San Juan Basin. More than ten thousand separate sites have been identified. Archaeologists have discovered at least one hundred and fifty great house style structures outside of Chaco Canyon. These Pueblos are referred to as Outliers. An elaborate road and trail system connected the outlying villages with Chaco Canyon. Despite having over four hundred miles of a mapped out road system, there is no evidence that Chaco Indian used the wheel.
My stay at the St James can only be classified as "picturesque". It has been fully refurbished by its new owners to resemble its 1800's wild-west conditions and prides itself on being in the town of Cimarron, one of the most important stops on the famed Santa Fe Trail.
Here are some images of the TV production team;
Chad speaking with parapsychologist Loyd
Dave, the new administrator of the hotel
The room where I was lodged was furnished with 19th century furnishings.
The day after my on-camera interview I and wto others who had been intervewed for the TV show were driven to Santa Fe. A couple of us pitched in and rented a car there. We drove to historic Las Vegas, New Mexico, one of the first towns visited in August 1846 by U.S. army brigadier general Stephen W. Kearny on his invasion expedition into what was at that time internationally recognized Mexican territory.
I was fascinated by Kearny's words as he proclaimed his current mission to the citizens of the Mexican village on that August day: "I have come amongst you by the orders of my government to take possession of your country..." I guess he wasn't leaving anything unclear about whose country it originally was and what the intention of his nation was for it.
The full text of Kearny's speech which he delivered to the people of las Vegas from atop one of the adobe buildings in the town plaza is now recorded on a metal plate attached to the trunk of an ancient tree still there at the twon plaza.
One gets a sense reading this text that notwithstanding all of the sincere-sounding promises of enduring respect for the culture, Spanaish language, and religion of the local inhabitants and the line "We come amongst you as friends not as enemies, protectors not as conquerors..." that a huge historical land-grab was actually taking place.
After all, now the descendants of those very local inhabitants are looked on suspiciously as possible illegal aliens.
My stay in Las Vegas, New Mexico was brief but colorful and I was able to appreciate the enormous contribution of the Indigenous people to the local art and culture.
I stayed overnight in Las Vegas, New Mexico and on the following afternoon started off for the Pueblo Indian reservations of the Rio Grande river north of Santa Fe. On the way there on route 285 not far from the Nambe Pueblo Reservation had the opportunity to stop at a roadside stand stocked with great local foods, ground blue corn and traditional herbs. I bought a pack of ground hot red pepper for my son Cha.
I was fortunate to arrive at the Santa Clara reservation just in time for the last tour into the nearby Puye cliff-dwelling ruins right above the Pueblo. The guide was an intelligent and articulate Santa Clara Pueblo resident. a young man with a penchant for baseball called A. J. I was surprised to hear from A.J. that he had actually been to Pittsburgh way back in the 1990's and had been at our old Three Rivers Stadium before it was demolished to make way for the two new stadiums
now standing in the North Side. A.J. had come to Pittsburgh back then
as part of a Native American contingent who participated in an event at
an arts and crafts store in the neighborhood of Squirrel Hill called
"Four Winds Gallery".I immediatelly felt a strong bond with the young man and requested his Facebook ID.
From A.J. I learned a lot about the history of the Tewa Indigenous people of Santa Clara Pueblo and their ancient ancestors who lived in the cliffs above the present-day village.
A. J. led me over a narrow trail up into the cliff where his ancestors had established a community that boasted storage areas which were skillfully dug right into the tuffa stone side of the cliff.
A.J.'s ancient ancestors who built the structures up in the Puye cliffs are direct descendants of the Anasazi people who built the impressive buildings in the floor of Chaco Canyon around the year 800 A.D.. I was determined to visit that place next.
On the way to Chaco Canyonon Routes 84 and 96 I travelled through the Chama River country, near the town of Abiquiu, New Mexico. The view of the river from the heights is spectacular in that area.
I arrived in a town at the foot of the San Pedro Mountains ironically named "Cuba", New Mexico on Thursday night and spent the night there after an hour admiring the extraordinary spectacle of the South Western night sky with its thousands of stars, a sight that I had not seen since my childhood in my own birth-place of Cuba.
In the morning I set out on Route 40 through the Jicarilla Apache Reservation where I had an opportunity to speak with members of the Inde Nation (Apache). They run a small casino right on Route 40 not far from the reservation border called "Apache Nugget".
Not long after my visit in Jicarilla Apache country I finally found myself in a place I have wanted to visit for almost thirty years. In a way this was a kind of pilgrimage and I treated it as such. I arrived in the famous Chaco Canyon region.
After passing a few local settlements, some of which contained actual contemporary hogans which are traditionally shaped round buildings based on the ancient dwellings of the Dine (Navajo) people, we finally reached the area where the ancient Anasazi built their towns.
Along the way I stopped at a breath-takingly beautiful place and climbed on a huge boulder. On top of the boulder I offered ceremony to the spirits of the place with tobacco and corn meal and a song from my Taino quena flute.
After my ceremony on the boulder I continued on to the area of the ruins. I was not disappointed. It turned into one of the most sacred moments of my life. I was given the opportunity to explore the ancient remains of one ancient settlement called Hungo Pavi where I again performed ceremony and offered tobacco, corn and flute song.
After Hungo Pavi I moved on to the most impressive Anasazi site in all of the South West United States, a place called PUEBLO BONITO. I spent over an hour exploring the many rooms, and kivas (round ceremonial underground structures) of the huge setlement.
This incredibly complex community supported hundreds of people over a thousand years ago and maintained close overland trading partnerships with the ancient Mayas of Central America at the same time that my own Taino ancestors maintained cross-gulf contacts with the same Maya culture.
I thank the sacred powers of the Cosmos Ata Bey my universal Mother, Yoka Hu, the Sky Lord of Life, the spirits of the four sacred directions, Achiano, Koromo, Rakuno and Sobaiko my guardian totems and my friends associated with the production of the Urraca Mesa episode of AMERICAN GHOST HUNTERS who helped me realize this pilgrimage.