Agnes C. (Agnes Christina) Laut.

Through our unknown Southwest, the wonderland of the United States - little known and unappreciated - the home of the cliff dweller and the Hopi, the forest ranger and the Navajo - the lure of the painted desert online

. (page 1 of 19)
Online LibraryAgnes C. (Agnes Christina) LautThrough our unknown Southwest, the wonderland of the United States - little known and unappreciated - the home of the cliff dweller and the Hopi, the forest ranger and the Navajo - the lure of the painted desert → online text (page 1 of 19)
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Montezutna'fl ('a-tlr. ilu- rnim-d cliff dwelling on Beaver

( rt-rk 1n-t WITH tlu- ( Oconiiio and Prescdtt National
Ft treats, Ari/oiia







Author of The Conquest of the Great Northwest,
Lords of the North and Freebooters of the Wilderness




Second Printing
October, 1913

Published May, 191S

u. o.















X THE GOVERNOR'S PALACE (continued) . .169







Cliff dwelling ruins, known as Montezuma Castle, Frontispiece


South House of Frijoles Canon ii

Indian woman making pottery xii

Indian girl of Isleta, N. M. xx

One way of entering the desert 4

In the Coconino Forest of Arizona 14

Forest ranger fighting a ground fire with his blanket . 22

Pueblo boys at play 34

Chili peppers drying outside pueblo dwelling .... 46

Los Pueblos, Taos, N. M 56

Entrance to a cliff dwelling 64

Ruins of Frijoles Canon 74

A Hopi wooing 80

A Hopi weaver . 86

A shy little Hopi maid 92

At the water hole on the outskirts of Laguna ... 96

A handsome Navajo boy 106

The Pueblo of Walpi , 122

The Grand Canon 140

The Governor's Palace at Santa Fe . .154




A pool in the Painted Desert 160

Street in Santa Fe 166

Ancient adobe gateway 172

San Ildefonso 180

Taos 188

Over the roofs of Taos 198

A metal worker of Taos 208

A mud house of the Southwest 220

The enchanted Mesa of Acoma 230

Navajo crossing mesa 246

At the Mission of San Xavier 254

A Moki City on a mesa 262



I AM sitting in the doorway of a house of the
Stone Age neolithic, paleolithic, troglodytic
man with a roofless city of the dead lying
in the valley below and the eagles circling with lonely
cries along the yawning caverns of the cliff face

My feet rest on the topmost step of a stone stair-
way worn hip-deep in the rocks of eternity by the
moccasined tread of foot-prints that run back, not to
A. D. or B. C., but to those post-glacial aeons when
the advances and recessions of an ice invasion from
the Poles left seas where now are deserts; when giant
sequoia forests were swept under the sands by the
flood waters, and the mammoth and the dinosaur
and the brontosaur wallowed where now nestle farm

Such a tiny doorway it is that Stone Man must
have been obliged to welcome a friend by hauling
him shoulders foremost through the entrance, or
able to speed the parting foe down the steep stair-
way with a rock on his head. Inside, behind me,
is a little dome-roofed room, with calcimined walls,
and squared stone meal bins, and a little, high fire-
place, and stone pillows, and a homemade flour mill
in the form of a flat metate stone with a round grind-


ing stone on top. From the shape and from the
remnants of pottery shards lying about, I suspect one
of these hewn alcoves in the inner wall was the place
for the family water jar.

On each side the room are tiny doorways leading
by stone steps to apartments below and to rooms
above; so that you may begin with a valley floor
room which you enter by ladder and go halfway to
the top of a 5OO-foot cliff by a series of interior lad-
ders and stone stairs. Flush with the floor at the
sides of these doors are the most curious little round
" cat holes " through the walls " cat holes " for
a people who are not supposed to have had any
cats; yet the little round holes run from room to
room through all the walls.

On some of the house fronts are painted emblems
of the sun. Inside, round the wall of the other
houses, runs a drawing of the plumed serpent
" Awanya," guardian of the waters whose pres-
ence always presaged good cheer of water in a desert
land growing drier and drier as the Glacial Age re-
ceded, and whose serpent emblem in the sky you
could see across the heavens of a starry night in the
Milky Way. Lying about in other cave houses are
stone " bells " to call to meals or prayers, and cobs
of corn, and prayer plumes owl or turkey feath-
ers. Don't smile and be superior! It isn't a hun-
dred years ago since the common Christian idea of
angels was feathers and wings; and these Stone Peo-
ple lived well, when did they live? Not later
than 400 A. D., for that was when the period of


desiccation, or drought from the recession of the
glacial waters, began.

" The existence of man in the Glacial Period is es-
tablished," says Winchell, the great western geolo-
gist, " that implies man during the period when flour-
ished the large mammals now extinct. In short,
there is as much evidence pointing to America as to
Asia as the primal birthplace of man." Now the
ice invasion began hundreds of thousands of years
ago; and the last great recession is set at about 10,000
years; and the implements of Stone Age man are
found contemporaneous with the glacial silt.

There is not another section in the whole world
where you can wander for days amid the houses
and dead cities of the Stone Age ; where you can lit-
erally shake hands with the Stone Age.

Shake hands? Isn't that putting it a little strong?
It doesn't sound like the dry-as-dust dead collections
of museums. It may be putting it strong; but it is
also meticulously and simply true. A few doors
away from the cave-house where I sit, lies a little
body no, not a mummy! We are not in Egypt.
We are in America ; but we often have to go to Egypt
to find out the wonders of America. Lies a little
body, that of a girl of about eighteen or twenty,
swathed in otter and beaver skins with leg bindings
of woven yucca fiber something like modern burlap.
Woven cloth from 20,000 to 10,000 B. C.? Yes!
That is pretty strong, isn't it? Tis when you come
to consider it; our European ancestors at that date


were skipping through Hyrcanian Forests clothed
mostly in the costume Nature gave them; Herbert
Spencer would have you believe, skipping round with
simian gibbering monkey jaws and claws, clothed
mostly in apes' hair. Yet there lies the little lady
in the cave to my left, the long black hair shiny and
lustrous yet, the skin dry as parchment still holding
the finger bones together, head and face that of a
human, not an ape, all well preserved owing to the
gypsum dust and the high, dry climate in which the
corpse has lain.

In my collection, I have bits of cloth taken from
a body which archaeologists date not later than 400
A. D. nor earlier than 8,000 B. C., and bits of corn
and pottery from water jars, placed with the dead to
sustain them on the long journey to the Other World.
For the last year, I have worn a pin of obsidian which
you would swear was an Egyptian scarab if I had not
myself obtained it from the ossuaries of the Cave
Dwellers in the American Southwest.

Come out now to the cave door and look up and
down the canon again! To right and to left for a
height of 500 feet the face of the yellow tufa preci-
pice is literally pitted with the windows and doors
of the Stone Age City. In the bottom of the valley
is a roofless dwelling of hundreds of rooms "the
cormorant and the bittern possess it; the owl also
and the raven dwell in it; stones of emptiness; thorns
in the palaces; nettles and brambles in the fortresses;
and the screech owl shall rest there."

Listen ! You can almost hear it ! the fulfillment


of Isaiah's old prophecy the lonely " hoo-hoo-
hoo " of the turtle dove ; and the lonelier cry of the
eagle circling, circling round the empty doors of the
upper cliffs ! Then, the sharp, short bark-bark-bark
of a fox off up the canon in the yellow pine forests
towards the white snows of the Jemez Mountains;
and one night from my camp in this canon, I heard
the coyotes howling from the empty caves.

Below are the roofless cities of the dead Stone
Age, and the dancing floors, and the irrigation canals
used to this day, and the stream leaping down from
the Jemez snows, which must once have been a rush-
ing torrent where wallowed such monsters as are
known to-day only in modern men's dreams.

Far off to the right, where the worshipers must
always have been in sight of the snowy mountains
and have risen to the rising of the desert sun over
cliffs of ocher and sands of orange and a sky of tur-
quoise blue, you can see the great Kiva or Ceremon-
ial Temple of the Stone Age people who dwelt in this
canon. It is a great concave hollowed out of the
white pumice rock almost at the cliff top above the
tops of the highest yellow pines. A darksome, cav-
ernous thing it looks from this distance, but a won-
derful mid-air temple for worshipers when you climb
the four or five hundred ladder steps that lead to it
up the face of a white precipice sheer as a wall.
What sights the priests must have witnessed ! I can
understand their worshiping the rising sun as the first
rays came over the canon walls in a shield of fire.
Alcoves for meal, for incense, for water urns, mark


the inner walls of this chamber, too. Where the
ladder projects up through the floor, you can descend
to the hollowed underground chamber where the
priests and the council met; a darksome, eerie place
with sipapu the holes in the floor for the mystic
Earth Spirit to come out for the guidance of his peo-
ple. Don't smile at that idea of an Earth Spirit 1
What do we tell a man, who has driven his nerves
too hard in town ? To go back to the Soil and let
Dame Nature pour her invigorating energies into
him ! That's what the Earth Spirit, the Great Earth
Magician, signified to these people.

Curious how geology and archaeology agree on the
rise and evanishment of these people. Geology says
that as the ice invasion advanced, the northern races
were forced south and south till the Stone Age folk
living in the roofless City of the Dead on the floor
of the valley were forced to take refuge from them
in the caves hollowed out of the cliff. That was
any time between 20,000 B.C. and 10,000 B.C.
Archaeology says as the Utes and the Navajo and
the Apache Asthapascan stock came ramping
from the North, the Stone Men were driven from
the valleys to the inaccessible cliffs and mesa table
lands. " It was not until the nomadic robbers
forced the pueblos that the Southwestern people
adopted the crowded form of existence," says Archae-
ology. Sounds like an explanation of our modern
skyscrapers and the real estate robbers of modern
life, doesn't it?


Then, as the Glacial Age had receded and drought
began, the cave men were forced to come down from
their cliff dwellings and to disperse. Here, too, is
another story. There may have been a great cata-
clysm; for thousands of tons of rock have fallen
from the face of the canon, and the rooms remain-
ing are plainly only back rooms. The Hopi and
Moki and Zuni have traditions of the " Heavens
raining fire; " and good cobs of corn have been found
embedded in what may be solid lava, or fused adobe.
Pajarito Plateau, the Spanish called this region
" place of the bird people," who lived in the cliffs
like swallows; but thousands of years before the
Spanish came, the Stone Age had passed and the
cliff people dispersed.

What in the world am I talking about, and where ?
That's the curious part of it. If it were in Egypt,
or Petrae, or amid the sand-covered columns of
Phrygia, every tourist company in the world would
be arranging excursions to it; and there would be
special chapters devoted to it in the supplementary
readers of the schools ; and you wouldn't be well,
just au fait, if you didn't know; but do you know
this wonder- world is in America, your own land?
It is less than forty miles from the regular line of
continental travel; $6 a single rig out, $14 a double;
$i to $2 a day at the ranch house where you can
board as you explore the amazing ancient civiliza-
tion of our own American Southwest. This particu-
lar ruin is in the Frijoles Canon; but there are hun-


dreds, thousands, of such ruins all through the South-
west in Colorado and Utah and Arizona and New
Mexico. By joining the Archaeological Society of
Santa Fe, you can go out to these ruins even more
inexpensively than I have indicated.

A general passenger agent for one of the largest
transcontinental lines in the Northwest told me that
for 1911, where 60,000 people bought round-trip
tickets to our own West and back pleasure, not
business over 120,000 people bought tickets for
Europe and Egypt. I don't know whether his
figures covered only the Northwest of which he was
talking, or the whole continental traffic association;
but the amazing fact to me was the proportion he
gave one to our own wonders, to two for abroad.
I talked to another agent about the same thing. He
thought that the average tourist who took a trip to
our own Pacific Coast spent from $300 to $500,
while the average tourist who went to Europe spent
from $1,000 to $2,000. Many European tourists
went at $500; but so many others spent from $3,000
to $5,000, that he thought the average spendings
of the tourist to Europe should be put at $1,000 to
$2,000. That puts your proportion at a still more
disastrous discrepancy thirty million dollars versus
one hundred and twenty million. The Statist of
London places the total spent by Americans in Europe
at nearer three hundred million dollars than one hun-
dred and twenty million.

Of the 3,700,000 people who went to the Seattle


Exposition, it is a pretty safe guess that not 100,000
Easterners out of the lot saw the real West. What
did they see? They saw the Exposition, which was
like any other exposition; and they saw Western
cities, that are imitations of Eastern cities; and they
patronized Western hotel rotundas and dining places,
where you pay forty cents for Grand Junction and
Hood River fruit, which you can buy in the East for
twenty-five ; and they rode in the rubberneck cars with
the gramophone man who tells Western variations
of the same old Eastern lies; and they came back
thoroughly convinced that there was no more real

And so 120,000 Americans yearly go to Europe
spending a good average of $1,000 apiece. We
scour the Alps for peaks that everybody has climbed,
though there are half a dozen Switzerlands from
Glacier Park in the north to Cloudcroft, New Mex-
ico, with hundreds of peaks which no one has climbed
and which you can visit for not more than fifty dol-
lars for a four weeks 1 holiday. We tramp through
Spain for the picturesque, quite oblivious of the fact
that the most picturesque bit of Spain, about 10,000
years older than Old Spain, is set right down in the
heart of America with turquoise mines from which
the finest jewel in King Alphonso's crown was taken.
We rent a " shootin' box in Scotland " at a trifling
cost of from $1,200 to $12,000 a season, because
game is " so scarce out West, y' know." Yet I can
direct you to game haunts out West where you can
shoot a grizzly a week at no cost at all but your own


courage; and bag a dozen wild turkeys before break-
fast; and catch mountain trout faster than you can
string them and pose for a photograph; and you
won't need to lie about the ones that got away, nor
boast of what it cost you; for you can do it at two
dollars a day from start to finish. It would take
you a good half-day to count up the number of tour-
ist and steamboat agencies that organize sightseeing
excursions to go and apostrophize the Sphinx, and
bark your shins and swear and sweat on the Pyra-
mids. Yet it would be a safe wager that outside of-
ficial scientific circles, there is not a single organiza-
tion in America that knows we have a Sphinx of our
own in the West that antedates Egyptian archaeology
by 8,000 years, and stone lions older than the col-
umns of Phrygia, and kings' palaces of 700 and
1,000 rooms. Am I yarning; or dreaming?
Neither ! Perfectly sober and sane and wide awake
and just in from spending two summers in those
same rooms and shaking hands with a corpse of the
Stone Age.

A young Westerner, who had graduated from
Harvard, set out on the around-the-world tour that
was to give him that world-weary feeling that was
to make him live happy ever afterwards. In Naga-
saki, a little brown Jappy-chappie of great learning,
who was a prince or something or other of that sort,
which made it possible for Harvard to know him,
asked in choppy English about " the gweat, the vely
gweat anti-kwatties in y'or Souf WesV When
young Harvard got it through his head that " anti-


kwatties " meant antiquities, he rolled a cigarette
and went out for a smoke; but it came back at him
again in Egypt. They were standing below the chin
of an ancient lady commonly called the Sphinx, when
an English traveler turned to young America. " I
say," he said; " Yankeedom beats us all out on this
old dame, doesn't it? You've a carved colossus in
your own West a few trifling billion years older than
this, haven't you? " Young America, with a weak-
ness somewhere in his middle, " guessed they had."
Then looking over the old jewels taken from the
ruins of Pompeii, he was asked, " how America was
progressing excavating her ruins;" and he heard
for the first time in his life that the finest crown
jewel in Europe came from a mine just across the
line from his own home State. The experience gave
him something to think about.

The incident is typical of many of the 120,000
people who yearly trek to Europe for holiday. We
have to go abroad to learn how to come home. We
go to Europe and find how little we have seen of
America. It is when you are motoring in France
that you first find out there is a great " Camino
Real" almost 1,000 miles long, much of it above
cloud line, from Wyoming to Texas. It's some
European who has u a shootin' box " out in the
Pecos, who tells you about it. Of course, if you like
spending $12,000 a year for "a shootin' box" in
Scotland, that is another matter. There are various
ways of having a good time; but when I go fishing I
like to catch trout and not be a sucker.


Spite of the legend, "Why go to Europe? See
America first," we keep on going to Europe to see
America. Why? For a lot of reasons; and most
of them lies.

Some fool once said, and we keep on repeating it
that it costs more to go West than it does to go
to Europe. So it does, if " going West " means
staying at hotels that are weak imitations of the
Waldorf and the Plaza, where you never get a sniff
of the real West, nor meet anyone but traveling East-
erners like yourself; but if you strike away from the
beaten trail, you can see the real West, and have
your holiday, and go drunk on the picturesque, and
break your neck mountain climbing, and catch more
trout than you can lie about, and kill as much bear
meat as you have courage, at less expense than it will
cost you to stay at home. From Chicago to the
backbone of the Rockies will cost you something
over $33 or $50 one way. You can't go half-way
across the Atlantic for that, unless you go steerage;
and if you go West " colonist," you can go to the
backbone of the Rockies for a good deal less than
thirty dollars. Now comes the crucial point! If
you land in a Western city and stay at a good hotel,
expenses are going to out-sprint Europe; and you
will not see any more of the West than if you had
gone to Europe. Choose your holiday stamping
ground, Sundance Canon, South Dakota; or the New
Glacier Park; or the Pecos, New Mexico; or the
White Mountains, Arizona; or the Indian Pueblo
towns of the Southwest; or the White Rock Canon


of the Rio Grande, where the most important of the
wonderful prehistoric remains exist; and you can
stay at a ranch house where food and cleanliness
will be quite as good as at the Waldorf for from $1.50
to $2 a day. You can usually find the name of the
ranch house by inquiries from the station agent where
you get off. The ranch house may be of adobe and
look squatty; but remember that adobe squattiness
is the best protection against wind and heat; and in-
side, you will find hot and cold water, bathroom, and
meals equal to the best hotels in Chicago and New
York. In New York or Chicago, that amount would
afford you mighty chancy fare and only a back hall
room. I know of hundreds of such ranch houses all
along the backbone of the Rockies.

Next comes the matter of horses and rigs. If
you stay at one of the big hotels, you will pay from
$5 to $10 a day for a rig, and $20 for a motor.
Out at the ranch house, you can rent team, driver
and double rig at $4; or a pony at $20 for a month,
or buy a burro outright for from $5 to $10. Even
if the burro takes a prize for ugliness, remember he
also takes a prize for sure-footedness; and he doesn't
take a prize for bucking, which the broncho often
does. Figure up now the cost of a month's holiday ;
and I repeat it will cost you less than staying at
home. But if this total is still too high, there are
ways of reducing the expense by half. Take your
own tent; and $20 will not exceed "the grub box"
contents for a month. Or all through the Rockies
are deserted shacks, mining and lumber shanties,


herders' cabins, horse camps. You can quarter your-
self in one of these for nothing; and the sole ex-
pense will be " the grub box; " and my tin trunk for
camp cooking has never cost me more than $50 a
month for four people. Or best and most novel ex-
perience of all along White Rock Canon of the
Rio Grande, in Mesa Verde Park, Colorado, are
thousands of plastered caves, the homes of the cliff
dwellers. You reach them by ladder. There is no
danger of wolves, or damp. Camp in one of them
for nothing wherever the water in the brook below
happens to be good. Hundreds of archaeologists,
who come from Egypt, Greece, Italy, England, to
visit these remains, spend their summer holiday this
way. Why can't you? Or if you are not a good
adventurer into the Unknown alone, then join the
summer school that goes out to the caves from Santa
Fe every summer.

Is it safe? That question to a Westerner is a
joke. Safer, much safer, than in any Eastern city!
I have slept in ranch cabins of the White Moun-
tains, in caves of the cliff dwellers on the Rio Grande,
in tents on the Saskatchewan; and I never locked a
door, because there wasn't any lock; and I never at-
tempted to bar the door, because there wasn't any
need. Can you say as much of New York, or Chi-
cago, or Washington? The question may be asked
Will this kind of a holiday not be hot in summer?
You remember, perhaps, crossing the backbone of the
Rockies some mid-summer, when nearly everything
inside the pullman car melted into a jelly. Yes, it


will be hot if you follow the beaten trail ; for a rail-
road naturally follows the lowest grade. But if you
go back to the ranch houses of the Upper Mesas and
of foothills and canons, you will be from 7,000 to
10,000 feet above sea level, and will need winter
wraps each night, and may have to break the
ice for your washing water in the morning I

Another reason why so many Americans do not see
their own country is that while one species of fool
has scared away holiday seekers by tales of extor-
tionate cost, another sort of fool wisely promulgates
the lie a lie worn shiny from repetition that
" game is scarce in the West.'* " No more big
game " and your romancer leans back with wise-
acre air to let that lie sink in, while he clears his
throat to utter another "trout streams all fished
out." In the days when we had to swallow logic
undigested in college, we had it impressed upon us

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Online LibraryAgnes C. (Agnes Christina) LautThrough our unknown Southwest, the wonderland of the United States - little known and unappreciated - the home of the cliff dweller and the Hopi, the forest ranger and the Navajo - the lure of the painted desert → online text (page 1 of 19)