Tres­pass­ing on time

Pasatiempo - - Onstage This Week - Casey Sanchez The New Mex­i­can

Just 15 miles south of Santa Fe lies the Gal­is­teo Basin, one of the coun­try’s most im­pres­sive ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites. Bor­dered by the San­gre de Cristo and San­dia moun­tains, this creek-fed val­ley was both home and trade route for a vast ar­ray of Tano, Pe­cos, Tewa, and Kere­san peo­ples and — later — Span­ish con­quis­ta­dors and mis­sion­ar­ies from the 13th to the 18th cen­tury. The ebb and flow of hu­man ac­tiv­ity, cul­tural war­fare, and colo­nial­ism left be­hind thou­sands of un­ex­ca­vated rooms, dozens of mounds and ki­vas, and a con­cen­tra­tion of rock art and pet­ro­glyphs that spans 20 square miles. “The story of land and lives in the Gal­is­teo Basin is some­times more of a ca­coph­ony of con­tra­dic­tory voices than a polyphony,” Lucy Lippard writes in her mag­is­te­rial ac­count of the Gal­is­teo Basin, Down Coun­try: The Tano of the Gal­is­teo Basin, 1250-1782. “An­ces­tral Pue­blo voices aug­ment to­day’s his­to­ries like whis­pers from the land, from the rock art, from the cholla-cov­ered mounds of stones and adobe, from the traces of homes and shrines and fields and wa­ter col­lec­tion.”

A res­i­dent of Gal­is­teo for two decades, Lippard spent 10 years piec­ing to­gether the book from a bliz­zard of of­ten con­tra­dic­tory ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­ports and com­pet­ing tribal oral his­to­ries of the basin. Eric Blin­man, a Gal­is­teo Basin ar­chae­ol­o­gist and di­rec­tor of the state Of­fice of Ar­chae­o­log­i­cal Stud­ies, said in a re­cent panel dis­cus­sion about Lippard’s book that he finds him­self “ba­si­cally hav­ing to change my mind ev­ery two and a half years about the Gal­is­teo Basin.” In­stead of try­ing to re­solve dis­putes over his­tory, Lippard tries to syn­the­size the var­i­ous ac­counts in or­der to ac­com­plish some­thing she calls “imag­in­ing the an­cient land­scape.”

In ad­di­tion to Lippard’s re­search, the re­mains of this land­scape are also brought to life in the book through the stark land­scape pho­tog­ra­phy of Ed­ward Ran­ney, a Santa Fe pho­tog­ra­pher in­ter­na­tion­ally known for his pho­tog­ra­phy of Inca and Maya mon­u­ments. Ran­ney has lived at the north end of the basin since the early 1970s. Lippard, an art critic and cul­tural his­to­rian, has made the Gal­is­teo Basin her home since the early 1980s. At that time, Gal­is­teo ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites were an open, if fiercely guarded, se­cret among basin res­i­dents. At the time, Lippard said lo­cals told her, “We don’t want any books about Gal­is­teo.”

To­day a con­gres­sional act pro­tects the sites, Santa Fe County and the Bureau of Land Man­age­ment keep Pet­ro­glyph Hill be­hind lock and key, and pri­vate ranch­ers who once over­looked vis­its to their land by rock-art afi­ciona­dos and Pue­blo tribal mem­bers are now “landown­ers will­ing to shoot you if you tres­pass on the site,” Blin­man said at the panel dis­cus­sion. While this zero-tol­er­ance at­ti­tude to­ward out­siders pro­tects the sites from the loot­ing and de­face­ment that have dis­graced other South­west­ern ar­chae­o­log­i­cal sites, it also has the per­verse ef­fect of block­ing Pue­blo mem­bers from com­muning with liv­ing his­tory. “I’ve tried to get into many of those sites and could not get into them,” said Rina Swentzell, a Santa Clara Pue­blo mem­ber,

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