For many visitors to the American Southwest, one of the most exciting moments occurs when one comes face to face with a panel or rock art; executed by a people we know little of, for reasons we do not fully comprehend. Are these figures and patterns messages to be read? Are they supplications to the gods, clan symbols or prehistoric graffiti? Rock art is generally defined as being one of two types: petroglyphs, designs pecked into a rock surface using a harder stone; and pictographs, literally, rock painting. Pictographs were executed with paints derived either from mineral or vegetal sources. These paints were either daubed on using the fingers, painted on using brushes made of yucca fibers or blown through a hollow reed over some mold, handprints are very common in this style. Significant research has resulted in the identification of numerous regional styles, common design motifs and even relative ages for certain panels. Yet, for all we know of this subject, the most compelling questions remain unanswered: Why was this work created, who was meant to see it, and for what purpose? While answers to these questions may ultimately be found, for many visitors/observers it is the mystery of the unknown that is perhaps most appealing.
Along the souheastern edge of the Colorado Plateau is a fascinating place which preserves the archeological and cultural record of our ancestors. Known for generations by Native Americans and then by Spanish explorers, cowboys, and settlers, the "green table" of Mesa Verde was designated a national park in 1906 to protect some of the best preserved archeological treasures in the world. Includes 14 separate removable postcards with extended captions, bound into book form, 32 pages.
Monument Valley Tribal Park contains 30,000 acres situated in the heart of the Navajo Reservation, the largest reservation in the U.S. It was set aside by the Navajo Tribal Council in 1958, establishing a preserve to maintain the old ways and to satisfy the demand of tourists who wished to visit. Here, one still finds the traditional Navajo home, or hogan. It is octagonal of circular in shape, roofed with cedar logs and faces east in order to gather light and warmth from the Sun's first light. The pick up truck parked nearby is the one concession made by most to the twentieth century.
Many who visit this region plan their trips expecting to see spectacular landscapes preserved for their scenic value. Few leave disappointed but most return home enchanted, not by the scenery but by the human history of the ancient peoples who first inhabited this country.