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Volume 1, Issue 6, August 17, 2016
Native American historic sites preserve centuries of history from ancient to more recent times. Two locations in New Mexico tell two very different stories: one contains the ruins of a bustling community established during the 1100s, and the other is a memorial to those who were forced to walk hundreds of miles in the 19th century.

Cynthia Collins
Cynthia Collins  
Aztec Ruins National Monument
When explorers discovered ancient ruins in the northwest corner of New Mexico, they originally thought the area had been inhabited by the Aztecs. Further research indicated that the community was not of the Aztecs, but of the Ancestral Puebloans whose descendants include the Pueblo and other tribes of the Southwest. The site continued to use "Aztec" in the name and was recognized as a national monument in 1923. Since then, it has become a national park, a World Heritage Site, and is part of New Mexico's Trail of the Ancients which focuses on the archaeology, geology, and people of ancient times.

Aztec Ruins National MonumentThe Aztec Ruins National Monument was the home of a once thriving community established during the late 11th or early 12th century. Evidence still exists of a large house with more than 400 rooms, with the original beams over the doorways. Visitors can wander through the ruins either on a half-mile self-guided tour or guided by a park ranger. They can also visit a large, round ceremonial chamber, known as the Great Kiva, that was used for religious ceremonies. This Kiva has been reconstructed and is the largest and oldest of its kind in North America. Educational programs for school children offer further insight to the traditions of the ancient inhabitants, plus information about geology, archaeology, and nature.

This national park is just outside Aztec, NM, close to Farmington, in the Four Corners region. It is open all year, offering visible signs of ancient Native American history and its ongoing preservation. More information is available on the park's website.

Bosque Redondo Memorial at Fort Sumner
During the 19th century, there were enforced relocations of Native Americans. The Trail of Tears was the removal of the Cherokee in 1838 from Georgia to Oklahoma, and the Long Walk of the Navajo began relocating Navajo in 1863 to the Bosque Redondo Reservation at Fort Sumner, NM. The Cherokee march was the direct result of the Indian Removal Act, and Fort Sumner was envisioned by Gen. James Carleton to protect settlers as the nation grew. As long as Native Americans lived the way they always had, they were seen as making it difficult for the nation to expand westward.

The Bosque Redondo MemorialA group of 500 Mescalero Apache arrived at Bosque Redondo in 1862. Thousands of Navajo arrived at the reservation in 1863 after being forced to march 400 miles from Fort Defiance through treacherous conditions. U.S. Army officer Col. Kit Carson was in charge of both marches. Out of the enforced relocation of approximately 11,500 Navajo, 8,500 arrived at Bosque Redondo. Combined with the Mescalero Apache already there, the reservation had 9,000 inhabitants. Many had died along the way due to illness, starvation, or were killed. Worms destroyed crops planted on the reservation and the water was not safe to drink. Living conditions went from bad to worse. The Apaches left in 1864 and the Navajo returned to their homeland following the signing of the Treaty of 1868. Fort Sumner closed in 1869.

The Bosque Redondo Memorial is a museum that opened in 2005 detailing the history of the reservation and Fort Sumner, and the experiences of the Navajo and the Mescalero Apache during that time. The building is in the design of an Apache teepee and Navajo hogan. It not only reveals struggles faced during hardship, but the resiliency and strength that helped them survive.

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Upcoming Event...

Writing Workshop - Jefferson City, MO - Sept. 11

I'm looking forward to conducting a workshop on Sunday, Sept. 11 that explores the link between writing and spiritual experiences. This is part of a series on the arts and faith.
The Unicorn Tree
The Unicorn Tree by Cynthia Collins

A teenage girl whose brother is lost at sea –

The diary of a nineteenth-century woman –

And the special place that binds them…

For reviews, excerpts, and summary, see

Now on the 2016 Summer Reading List of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI) under the section for grades 9-12.

Ghost story and maritime adventure...
Available at
Photo credits: Aztec Ruins National Monument: courtesy of NPS. Bosque Redondo Memorial: courtesy of the Museum of New Mexico.

All articles in this newsletter are by Cynthia Collins. The featured historic site section contains general information. The other articles may not be reprinted without written permission. Subscriber lists are not sold or given to any third parties and historic sites are not charged for being featured. To suggest historic sites for future issues, request article reprint permission, or any comments/questions regarding this newsletter, please contact Cynthia Collins.
Copyright © 2016 Cynthia Collins, All rights reserved.

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