New Mexico’s dry environment does a good job at preserving artifacts. It’s often hard to tell if something is new or old. Everything just blends together in the bone-bleaching sun. One summer afternoon I was taking a walk from my house to the post office. I went a little further on my route than I should have and came across a section of burnt trees on the side of the trail. Deciding to investigate, I walked a few yards down the ridge and stopped. Rectangular patterns of rocks were carefully arranged on the ground. They almost looked like a foundation of a house, except that they were just single stones resting on top of the dirt.
What I found was obviously man-made, but I was baffled by what exactly I came across. A couple of weeks later I attended a lecture by Chuck Van Gelder, the East Mountain’s resident historian, who is featured in the video above. He spoke of the huge populations of Apaches and Plains Indians that setup camp in the area. Being nomadic, they didn’t leave a lot of physical evidence behind. However, some of their tipi rings remain. These rings are patterns of stones that were used to stake down the animal skin hides of the cone-shaped tipis. Continue reading