George Wharton James.

New Mexico, the land of the delight makers : the history of its ancient cliff dwellings and pueblos, conquest by the Spaniards, Franciscan missions; personal accounts of the ceremonies, games, social life and industries of its Indians; a description of its climate, geology, flora and birds, its rive online

. (page 1 of 38)
Online LibraryGeorge Wharton JamesNew Mexico, the land of the delight makers : the history of its ancient cliff dwellings and pueblos, conquest by the Spaniards, Franciscan missions; personal accounts of the ceremonies, games, social life and industries of its Indians; a description of its climate, geology, flora and birds, its rive → online text (page 1 of 38)
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A number of additional volumes are in preparation,
including Our Wonderland of the East, Maine,
Georgia, The Great Lakes, Louisiana, etc., and the
" See America First " Series will eventually include
the whole of the North American Continent.

53 Beacon Street Boston, Mass.

The Water Maiden at Laguna.

(See page 400.)
From a Painting made expressly for the author by Lucille Joullin.



The History of its Ancient Cliff Dwellings and Pueb-
los, Conquest by the Spaniards, Franciscan Missions ;
Personal Accounts of the Ceremonies, Games, Social
Life and Industries of its Indians ; A Description of its
Climate, Geology, Flora and Birds, its Rivers and
Forests ; A Review of its Rapid Development, Land-
Reclamation Projects and Educational System; with
full and accurate accounts of its Progressive Counties,
Cities and Towns.




"California, Romantic and Beautiful," "Arizona,
the Wonderland," etc.

With a map and fifty-six plates
of which eight are in color


Copyright, 1920,
By The Page Company

All rights reserved

First Impression, March, 1920






With whom I have often foregath-
ered around campfires in New Mex-
ico, surrounded by the glamour of
ancient peoples, pre-historic dwell-
ings, aboriginal art, and present day
Indians, and for whose kindly inter-
est in my humble and unpretentious
literary work I am deeply grateful.


This is the third of the books on the States of the
American Southwest that I have been privileged to write
for this See America First series ; California, Romantic
and Beautiful, being the first, Arizona,, the Wonderland,
the second. When I announced this third volume, my
friends asked : " You surely cannot write as enthusi-
astically about New Mexico as you have done about Cali-
fornia and Arizona?" Yet I knew I should find it
equally easy. It was here that I came over thirty years
ago, broken in health and spirits, and gained the renewing
impulses and courage that ultimately won for me a fuller
enjoyment of life than I had ever had before. With my
roll of bedding I was ready to sleep on station-platform,
when deposited, solitary and alone, often in the dead of
night, from the irregularly running trains. I was free
to wander off at my own sweet will, making my bed under
pinion tree, cliff, or on sandy plain, wherever my patient
burro might bring me.

The sleeping out of doors under the stars; the ineffable
charm of the cool, delicious nights after the days of hot,
scorching sunshine; the baths of glorious colour that
flooded me, body, mind, and soul, in the sunrises and
sunsets; the experiences in sand-storm, wind-storm, hail-
storm, snow-storm, and lightning-storm ; the envelop-
ment of whirling sand-spirals; the excitements and dan-
gers of fording the treacherous quicksands of the
streams ; the bathing in their thick, ruddy, muddy waters ;
the thrills of swimming across the Rio Grande, when it

vi By Way of Foreword

was at the flood and its banks were falling in with " vol-
leying and thundering ; " the narrow escapes from drown-
ing in the wild waters ; the fording of refractory mules,
horses and burros across its turbulent flood ; the discom-
forts of being caught in storms and compelled to sleep
out in the snow, or rain, or — worse still — the suffocat-
ing clasp of the hot sand-storm; the near swallowing-up
of our wagon in unsuspected beds of quicksand; the
watching of the conversion of the dry, sandy desert, in a
few hours, into a flooded area through which we plunged
as through a marsh; the seeing of a roaring torrent, with
wild, dashing breakers, come down the dry washes that
had appeared as if water had been strangers to their
banks ever since the days of Noah's flood ; — memory re-
counts them so rapidly that not only cannot the pen write
them ; even the tongue trips and plays traitor to its wonted
fluency when it attempts to recount the sights, scenes, ex-
periences, and moving events that have transpired, and
of which I have been part, in New Mexico during the past
thirty years. I feel that I can truthfully say I have had
a thrill, a deep emotion, a stirring of the heart, a quick-
ening of the pulses, an intellectual enlargement, a scenic
feast and a spiritual uplift for every one of the 122,503
square miles of New Mexico.

Think what that means !

If Philip James Bailey measured life aright when he

We live in deeds, not years; in thoughts, not breaths;
In feelings, not in figures on a dial,

We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives,
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best,

then the thoughtful can imagine what New Mexico has
meant, still means, to me. The peace, the rest, the com-

By Way of Foreword vii

fort, the joy, that have flowed into me, body and soul,
on its mesas, and in its mountains, its canyons, and
valleys, forests and deserts, among its historic scenes, and
when fellowshipping with its Indians, its solitudes and its
wild, rollicking cowboys.

When I was so young in life's experiences that I felt
there were such things as " fates that pursue," and life
seemed a horrible nightmare, when men and women
shunned me for that which I was not, I fled them and
sought refuge in the solitudes of desert and canyon.
There, often for weeks at a time, I saw no one but In-
dians, or the birds and four-footed wild things that
neither shunned me, nor were afraid of me. There I
regained poise and that outlook on life that ultimately has
brought peace, serenity and joy. Hence I love New
Mexico with undying affection that those merely physi-
cally born within her borders can never feel. For here
my real spiritual birth occurred.

Before, having ears I heard not ; eyes, I saw not. Now
I hear, see, taste, feel and know, somewhat, and am On
The Way to larger, fuller, wider experiences.

Were I a poet-rhapsodist it would be no effort, nay,
it would be a joy to compose a rhapsody of thanksgiving
to this so-called Arid Land. No lover has sung the
praises of his mistress with more exuberant enthusiasm
than I could put, honestly and sincerely, into my song of
New Mexico.

To the average newspaper-reading American the name,
New Mexico, brings up little more than thoughts of a
disagreeable fight in Congress about two would-be states
— itself and Arizona. They see President Roosevelt
urging that they cease striving to be admitted as two
states, and swinging his famous big stick in a vigorous
endeavour to reunite them as they used to be in Spanish

viii By Way of Foreword

and Mexican days. He found he could as easily ac-
complish this as he could unite oil and water, or Lloyd
George combine into one coherent political state the
Catholics and the Orangemen of Ireland.

Yet if that average American would study New Mexico
he would find it as I have done, a country of many sur-
prises, wonders and delights. It is a land of sunshine,
solitude, silence, serenity, saints, sinners, salubrity, sand,
scoriae, scorpions, snakes, seduction, squabbles, segrega-
tion, shame and sacrifice. It is a natural sanitarium, a
land of sandy slopes and sapphire skies, a land for the
savant and the saunterer, the serious and the saucy, a
scenic saturnalia regno, a place where past, present and fu-
ture are hand in hand, where antithesis reigns supreme,
ancient and modern civilizations jog elbows, and where
the present sits in the very lap of the prehistoric. It is a v
land where the religion of one class of the people mani-
fested itself in " the Delight-makers," and of another in
the " Penitentes ; " — the former people whose sole duty
as religionists was to make people laugh by their jokes,
jests, and clownish acts; the latter a band of religious
fanatics who whip themselves with cruel cactus-thongs
until blood streams down their bodies. Both classes still
exist in Nezv Mexico to-day. It is a land of rich fertil-
ity and of hopeless barrenness; where irrigation has been
practiced for centuries, even long before Columbus sailed
from Spain on his voyage of discovery, and, on the other
hand, of sandy plains, rocky mesas, lava-strewn areas
where foothold even is denied to man. Here are snowy
peaks which companion scintillant stars more vivid and
larger than stars known east of the Rockies, and which
rest on mountain shoulders richly clad in a marvelously
varied silva, under whose shade silver streams dash and
sing, splash and roar on their way to be lost in the

By Way of Foreword ix

deserts of the plain, where prickly mesquite and buck-
brush, thorny yucca and cactus, and pale, bloodless ver-
dure eagerly drink up such few drops as still remain.

I have purposely given much space to the strange and
superstitious life of the Indians and Mexicans of New
Mexico, yet I would not thereby have the intelligent
reader gain a wrong impression of the modern New
Mexico. These things do exist, exactly as the many
writers quoted, and I, myself, state. Yet they are not so
obtrusive and insistent as to demand the attention of
passing travelers. Indeed the converse is the rule. One
might live in New Mexico for a score of years and
never see them. They must be hunted for, waited and
watched for, if one wishes to see them in their native
simplicity. Even then, as I think I have shown clearly,
not every person has the wit or tact to enable him to
remain and witness what is about to transpire. While
Albuquerque is but a few miles from villages where the
Mexicans are penitentes, and believe in witchcraft, and a
few score miles from Acoma, Zuni and Isleta, Indian
villages where witches are hung and the strange kivna
performances are still carried on, Albuquerque itself is as
modern and progressive as Los Angeles, California; Day-
ton, Ohio, or Marshalltown, Iowa. It is these surround-
ing facts that give the piquancy, uniqueness, thrilling
vividness of surprise and contrast to life in the modern
cities of New Mexico.

One with an artistic soul has called New Mexico —
not inappropriately — the land of High Colours and
High Places. While to the unknowing the colours of
the paintings reproduced in this book may seem bizarre
and exaggerated I must assert, in sober earnestness, that
they no more than suggest the reality. Colours abound,
radiate, vibrate, throb, delight, entrance, bewilder and

By Way of Foreword

confuse. Some who see them for the first time, become
bewildered and confused, for, coming from the soft-toned
east and middle west, they can scarce believe their own
eyes. " Striking " is scarcely a forcible enough word.
These colours sometimes almost stun one who is un-
used to them, just as Wagner's, Strauss's, Brahms's,
Rachmaninoff's or Dvorak's music at first stunned those
who were wedded to the quieter, gentler forms.

And the high places are equally fascinating and allur-
ing. New Mexico is the land of lands for mesas, fiat-
topped mountains, and elevated plateaus. Off towards
Arizona, in the northwest, are towering monuments
and buttes, walls and castles, domes and turrets galore.
The Navahos revel in them and, as we shall see, the
Zunis and Acomas either live or used to live upon their
level wind-swept areas. Black Mesa, on the Rio Grande,
is historic, for here great battles were fought between
Spaniard and Pueblo, and the Mesa Encantada — Kat-
zimo — the Enchanted Mesa, has become famous the
world over owing to the controversies that have raged
about it. Tucumcari is named after a rocky mesa
nearby, which used to be one of the retreating places
of the Apaches.

New Mexico has been a great land of controversy, a
mental battle ground, where doughty champions of many
kinds have fought, won, or been worsted in the defense
of their ideas. A score of combatants have contended
for their rendition of the route of Coronado ; almost as
many have fought as to which " city " was the one of
the " Seven Cities of Cibola " where Stephen the negro
lost his life. We have argued, and possibly will con-
tinue to argue, as to whether the Franciscans really bene-
fited the Indians or not; and in recent numbers of Old
Santa Fe hot and bitter controversy has raged over such

By Way of Foreword xi

questions as to whether the friars had complete bibles
or not. To this day it is hard to tell whether General
Carleton was efficient or not ; and who can sort out, from
the mass of conflicting opinion, whether the Apaches and
Navahos were " fiends incarnate " or " noble aborigines
who have been fearfully wronged by the white man."
The question is not settled yet as to whether the Texas
Expedition to Santa Fe in 1841 was an unwarrantable
and indefensible attempt to seize territory from a friendly
republic, or an honest attempt to meet the wishes of many
people of New Mexico who desired to sever their relation-
ship with Mexico. Scores of pages have been written to
prove that Cabeza de Vaca went into New Mexico, and
that Santa Fe is the oldest city in the United States.
Even the location of the room in El Palacio, in Santa Fe,
in which Lew Wallace wrote Ben Hur has been a matter
of controversy, and the loud words in the bitter discussion
as to whether Katzimo, — the Enchanted Mesa, — was
really the original home of the Acoma Indians still send
their echoes throughout the land. Who doesn't know
of the fierce controversies that have raged as to the origin
and final disappearance of the Cliff-Dwellers, and to this
day it is not settled whether we are justified in spelling
Navaho with an h or a j. Even the names of the moun-
tains have been the subject of controversy, and some of
us call a certain mountain San Mateo, — a name given
centuries ago, — while others call it Mt. Taylor, after the
redoubtable president of that name, while those who be-
lieve in retaining the original names given by the Indians,
would call it — it is impossible to write it — after the
tongue of the Navaho. " Where is the Gran Quivera?"
used to be a question that would speedily start a fight, and
who owns the Sanctuario — the old Franciscan Mission
at Chimayo where the marvelous happenings of Lourdes,

xii By Way of Foreword

in France, are said to be duplicated, — is still a question in
the minds of many. Even the spelling of the name of the
city of Albuquerque is a matter of controversy. The old
records show that the name of the duke, after whom the
city was named, had one " r " more than is now used, and
wrote and spelled it Alburquerque — as does Editor
Twitchell of the Old Santa Fe magazine and the best-
posted historian of the state.

To this day the Presbyterian, Methodist and Congre-
gationalist will assert that the confessed illiteracy of the
New Mexico of twenty, fifty and more years ago was
owing to the Catholic priesthood's deliberate purpose to
keep the people in ignorance, and the devout Catholic will
heatedly resent the imputation and defy the imputator.
As for the healthfulness, salubrity, social advantages,
business qualifications and the like of Santa Fe as against
those of Albuquerque — it is a case of Frank Stockton's
Lady and the Tiger, and the outsider, drawn into the
argument, rejects one horn of the dilemma to be impaled
immediately upon the other.

And these are a few only of the controversies that have
raged in New Mexico, and in some of which I have glee-
fully had my part. It is contended by some that debate
quickens the intellect — we know it oftentimes sharpens
the temper — and if this be true then we might augur
well for the intellectual future of the state.

Few states in the Union show such marvelous con-
trasts as does New Mexico. They are startling and dra-
matic. For instance, one coming into the State on the
Rock Island road and over the El Paso and South West-
ern will ride for scores of miles over an elevated plateau
country, almost devoid of verdure, heavily covered with
snow in winter, and scorching in the fierce rays of the
sun in summer. There are few vivifying brooks, creeks,

By Way of Foreword xiii

or rivers and little or no grateful shade of trees. Except
for scant pasturage for cattle and sheep the land seems
useless, and many a passenger exclaims " God-forsaken ! "
and, pulling down the car-shades, seeks forgetfulness and
the more rapid passing of time in sleep.

On the other hand, many prominent and leading artists
of the American world find in Taos and its environment
one of the most beautiful of spots, richly alluring and

Entering from the northeast on the Santa Fe an en-
tirely different country is seen. One crosses the well-
wooded Raton Mountains before he descends to the
plains. A somewhat similar experience is had in coming
over the Denver and Rio Grande from Colorado, while
in the south coming from the west, the El Paso and South
Western and Southern Pacific have an entirely different
kind of desert country to reveal. North of El Paso, out
westward from Alamogordo, are miles and miles of
gypsum sand, which, in the brilliant sunlight, appears ex-
actly like snow; while out from Laguna, by McCarthy's,
and Bluewater, in the region of Mount San Mateo, and
south from Grants for miles, lie the forbidding lava-beds
that look like the spewings of some fiery region of black

As early as 1880 Bandelier affirmed the superior ad-
vantages of New Mexico as a field for archaeological
and ethnological study. He said :

It is the only region on the whole continent where the highest
type of culture obtained by its aborigines — the village community in
stone or adobe buildings — has been preserved on the respective ter-
ritories of the tribes. These tribes have shrunk, the purity of their
stock has been affected, their customs and beliefs encroached upon by
civilization. Still enough is left to make of New Mexico the ob-
jective point of serious, practical archaeologists; for, besides the
living Pueblo Indians, besides the numerous ruins of their past, the

xiv By Way of Foreword

very history of the changes that they have undergone is partly in
existence, and begins three hundred and forty years ago, with
Coronado's adventurous march.

There is no attempt in this volume to give a complete
history of New Mexico. That were too extensive an
undertaking and the field is already well occupied. My
purpose is to give in readable guise a broad and general
idea of the State as a whole, or, at least, of its more im-
portant and arresting features.

I have desired to suggest to the interested reader the
great importance New Mexico had in the development of
the Pacific States. Arizona and California, originally,
were merely side issues connected with this, the main ob-
ject of the explorer's attention.

The history of New Mexico is the history of the be-
ginning of civilization in the western part of the United
States. It is of such vast importance that two large vol-
umes are required merely to catalogue its Spanish Ar-
chives. For, as its name implies, it was regarded as a
new Mexico, and Coronado and his conquistadores fondly
hoped to find therein the gold, silver and precious things
that had enriched Cortes in Mexico, Pizzaro in Peru, and
dazzled the old world.

How strangely small, insignificant and even absurd are
the things that lure men to change the course of history.
It was a myth, a will-o'-the-wisp, that allured Coronado
to the exploration of New Mexico, — a mere crazy tale
that rumour had set afoot years before ; just such a ru-
mour as sends men to-day speeding hither and yonder to
find gold. Mexico and Peru were the " Klondikes " that
had dazzled the eyes of all Europe by their prodigal and
fabulous wealth. The stories that spread over Spain,
Mexico and elsewhere about the tons of golden and silver
vessels, the abundance of precious stones, etc., of Monte-

By Way of Foreword xv

zuma and the Incas made men crazy with cupidity and
they were ready and eager to fly in any direction that
suggested a duplication of the experiences of the envied
Cortes and Pizarro.

The myth that started the explorers into New Mexico
was that " somewhere " up in that region where the buf-
falo roamed were seven cities, richer in gold and all that
man lusted after than anything that had yet been dis-
covered./ The report of Marcos de Nizza, who was sent
out to verify the rumours by Mendoza, the Viceroy, who
hoped to outdo Cortes in his discoveries, did not lessen the
excitement. /iThe soap-bubble was still growing, still daz-
zling with its brilliant iridescence. It was Coronado's
expedition that pricked it and its disappearance into thin
air was so startlingly rapid that it took the Spaniards
years to get over it. It practically killed Coronado for it
may truthfully be said he died of a broken heart, a dis-
illusioned, disappointed man./

All that the Spaniards found were seven Indian pueblos
— villages built of adobe, or rude pieces of rock plastered
over with adobe — whose people lived in aboriginal sim-
plicity, who had neither gold, silver, precious stones, nor
anything of great value. They knew nothing of mining,
though they had picked up a little turquoise, and a few
garnets and peridots.

Refusing to believe that his bubble had burst and dis-
appeared so utterly, Coronado pushed his way into Kan-
sas. There, convinced against his will, he turned back,
and at that moment to the great world of endeavour he
practically died.

Myths of fabulous treasure, however, die hard, and in
the hope that the country would still justify the first
stories told of it later explorers came — again to be dis-
appointed. A new element, by now, began to assert itself.

xvi By Way of Foreword

This was an age of religious zeal and activity never be-
fore or since surpassed. The monkish orders of Spain
were as frenzied in their zeal to save the souls of the
heathen aborigines as the explorers were to get gold.
Hence with all bands of the latter that started out on their
gold hunts came friars — Franciscan, Jesuit, Carmelite,
Dominican — eager to gain the priceless reward of the
spirit, ambitious to win the approval of their God by lead-
ing the souls of the natives into the fold of the church.
Then began another invasion — that of the mission-
aries. Churches, convents, monasteries sprang up like
magic on every hand. The fervour of these men seems
incredible. Eager to become martyrs they dared death
daily by forcing their religion upon jealous natives, and
such was their fiery energy and dauntless courage that
they succeeded in convincing the Indians — against their
will and desire — that they must help build the temples
of worship desired by the newcomers. This was the
period when the Mission Churches of New Mexico arose,
ioo to 150 years earlier than those of California. Simul-
taneously villas or towns were started — San Gabriel,
Santa Fe, Albuquerque, — for the Spanish and Mexican
colonists, who still clung to the old tradition or myth and
fondly hoped they might find the wealth their predecessors
doubtless had overlooked. Between them — friars and
colonists — they succeeded in arousing in the hearts of
the Indians a hatred so intense, fiery and unsuppressible
that the Pueblo Rebellion of 1680 ensued and violent

Online LibraryGeorge Wharton JamesNew Mexico, the land of the delight makers : the history of its ancient cliff dwellings and pueblos, conquest by the Spaniards, Franciscan missions; personal accounts of the ceremonies, games, social life and industries of its Indians; a description of its climate, geology, flora and birds, its rive → online text (page 1 of 38)