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Black Rock

Black Rock: A Zuni Cultural Landscape and the Meaning of Place

Copyright Date: 2007
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  • Book Info
    Black Rock
    Book Description:

    To visiting geologists Black Rock, New Mexico, is a basaltic escarpment and an ideal natural laboratory. To hospital workers Black Rock is a picturesque place to earn a living. To the Zuni the mesas, arroyos, and the rock itself are a stage on which the passion of their elders is relived. William A. Dodge ex-plores how a shared sense of place evolves over time and through multi-ple cultures that claim the landscape.

    Through stories told over many generations, this landscape has given the Zuni an understand-ing of how they came to be in this world. More recently, paleogeographers have studied the rocks and landforms to better understand the world as it once was. Archaeologists have conducted research on ancestral Zuni sites in the vicinity of Black Rock to explore the cultural history of the region. In addition, the Anglo-American employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs came to Black Rock to advance the federal Indian policy of assimilation and brought with them their own sense of place.

    Black Rock has been an educational complex, an agency town, and an Anglo community. Today it is a health care center, commercial zone, and multiethnic subdivision. By describing the dramatic changes that took place at Black Rock during the twentieth century, Dodge deftly weaves a story of how the cultural landscape of this community reflected changes in government policy and how the Zunis themselves, through the policy of Indian self-determination, eventually gave new meanings to this ancient landscape.

    William A. Dodge is a cultural historian at Van Citters Historic Preservation LLC in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has worked for over thirty years in southwestern cultural resources and was director of the Zuni Archaeology Program at the Pueblo of Zuni.

    eISBN: 978-1-60473-315-0
    Subjects: Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Preface
    (pp. ix-xvi)
    William A. Dodge
  4. Prologue: A VISIT TO BLACK ROCK
    (pp. xvii-1)

    For the visitor driving west from Albuquerque, the first view of Black Rock comes from the east. New Mexico Highway 53 crosses the cattle guard that demarcates the Zuni Indian Reservation from privately owned ranch land and passes the historic Zuni farming village of Pescado with its mixture of modern frame-stucco homes and older sandstone houses now vacant and crumbling. Remnants of fourteenth-century ancestral Zuni dwellings are interspersed among these buildings—low mounds of sandy soil mixed with sandstone slabs and artifacts. Quickly passing this deserted-looking village, the traveler comes to the staggered intersection of Highway 36 heading south to...

  5. CHAPTER 1 Introduction to Place-Making, Identity, and Cultural Landscapes
    (pp. 3-16)

    This is a story about a place—Black Rock, New Mexico—a small community in the west-central part of the state, forty miles south of Gallup and four miles east of the Pueblo of Zuni.¹ It is a story about landforms, ancestral settlements, culturally significant Zuni sites, a town created by the federal government and its eventual transition into a modern housing suburb of the Pueblo. It is a story not only about a particular sense of place, but as the tale unfolds, it illuminates the multiple meanings of place given to this landscape. They are meanings created by Zunis...

  6. CHAPTER 2 A Place of Landforms, Imagination, and Spirituality
    (pp. 17-40)

    The mesas, drainages, springs, and lava flow that make up the Black Rock landscape have been formed over the eons by natural forces and interpreted by modern-day geologists. These landforms have also been interpreted by the imagination and spiritual beliefs of the Zuni people themselves, and these beliefs continue to be passed down from generation to generation. The interplay between these two world views offers a fascinating picture of this place called Black Rock.

    The basalt flow that created this distinctive landscape, the landform upon which this story is focused, is a latecomer to the area in terms of geologic...

  7. CHAPTER 3 Peopling the Place
    (pp. 41-78)

    Humans have called Black Rock and the Zuni River valley home for thousands of years. How they came to this place and survived on the land is an enthralling yet incomplete story. Incomplete, that is, unless you put aside traditional Western scholarship and listen to the stories that Zunis tell about how they came to this place.

    The account of how the Zuni people came to the Middle Place,Halona: Itiwana, is stored in Zuni memory and remembered through Zuni oral history. In fact, there are many different accounts of Zuni creation stories and their migration to the Middle Place....

  8. CHAPTER 4 Constructing the Zuni Dam
    (pp. 79-98)

    People the world over have constructed water-control structures, both small and large, ever since farmers discovered the need to store and redirect this indispensable commodity. However, harnessing the natural forces that direct this action does not always go as planned. The federal government’s hydrology plans for Zuni were no exception, and as a result, Zuni land-use practices were severely disrupted, and the lifestyle of the Pueblo’s inhabitants was inalterably changed.

    In the early summer of 1904, the people living in the Middle Place—the Pueblo of Zuni—undoubtedly heard the distant boom of exploding dynamite as government engineers began blasting...

  9. CHAPTER 5 The Zuni Agency Boarding School at Black Rock
    (pp. 99-126)

    Education has long been used as a tool of colonial powers to subjugate and control populations. Indian boarding schools in particular have been accused of repressing Native culture and “taking the Indian out of the Indian.” On-reservation boarding schools were designed, in part, to minimize some of this oppressive atmosphere by bringing this form of schooling closer to home for the students. How successful this was often fell upon the shoulders of the agency school’s superintendent and the perseverance of the community itself not to let this happen. The Zunis learned to appreciate the advantages that a Western-style educational system...

  10. CHAPTER 6 Appropriating Place: Black Rock, an Agency Town
    (pp. 127-150)

    As Zuni students did their best to make a “home” out of their dormitory at Black Rock, the government employees, traders, and other non-Zunis who lived in the new town also endeavored to create a place where they could comfortably reside. And, indeed, in the first several decades of the twentieth century they did transform Black Rock into a place that was visually familiar to a non-Zuni and somewhat foreign-looking to many of the Zunis who bothered to visit there. Anglo residents took over a landscape and transformed it—they bestowed meaning to this place.

    The first government houses at...

  11. CHAPTER 7 Taking Back Black Rock: The Indian New Deal and Self-Determination
    (pp. 151-194)

    The world is constantly changing. Change affects individuals, communities, and cultures. Sometimes it is almost imperceptibly slow, while other times it comes fast and in a dramatic fashion. In the first half of the twentieth century, after an initial flurry of activity, the sleepy, remote little town of Black Rock moved along at its own pace, and the people who worked for the Indian Service plodded along directing the Zuni’s affairs; they came and went while the Zunis did their best to cope with it all. However, as the second half of the century began to wind down there was...

  12. CHAPTER 8 Making Sense of Black Rockʹs Cultural Landscape
    (pp. 195-204)

    There have been many people who have called Black Rock “home.” For Zunis, calling Black Rock home is relatively easy. The landscape, the histories, and the stories of the place are familiar and comforting. What about the others, however, the outsiders, the people who came and stayed for a while and then left for another place? How did they make Black Rock feel like home? What changes did they make to this place to feel more comfortable? And how did these changes affect the Zuni people? Certainly, there were changes. The buildings at Black Rock are different from those at...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 205-228)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 229-240)
  15. Index
    (pp. 241-244)