Everglades, Bandelier Illustrate the Human Condition 



Welcome to Day #65 of our "365 Parks in 365 Days" travels. I got home around mid-day yesterday after leaving Portland, OR around midnight the night before. I was just in time to make the reception hosted by The Northern Trust Company and the Everglades Foundation ( Foundation) to brief us on "The Future of the Everglades and the Impact on Broward County."


 Hanging out in the cave home of ancient Pueblan Indians at Bandelier, where the roof is still stained with the smoke from their fires.



 In fact, I came back early from the(APPL) convention specifically to make this event. I am inspired by the passion of Mary Barley, (Her exciting story here) who started the foundation with her husband George to protect the Everglades they love.  In 1999 the Everglades Coalition gave Frank and me the George M. Barley Conservationist of the Year Award (Award) named posthumously for her husband and "given annually to a person who has made a great contribution to Everglades restoration and protection." Frank and I were really eager to hear the update given by wetlands Ecologist Stephen Davis III, Ph.D, and foundation CEO Eric Eikenberg.


 The most exciting thing I learned was that the bridge proposed back in the 90s to raise traffic above the Everglades will open March 19, effectively restoring the sheet flow of water in some parts of the Glades. Whoo! It has been a long time coming, and it provides concrete evidence that the Everglades can be restored with the commitment of individuals and the public. The other key thing we learned is that the sugarcane industry that got massive government subsidies even as the pollution from its activities fouled the Everglades is now taking its business to Central and South America while still trying to evade paying their share of the cleanup costs. When will humanity come to our senses and realize that our natural habitat is all we really have? Dr. Davis illustrated this perfectly when he showed how Florida's economy depends completely upon our ecology, the heart of which is the Everglades.





                      Eerie... a view of adjoining cave homes.


This line of thinking  led me to Bandelier National Monument in New Mexico, where traces of human history extend back almost 11,000 years, and you can actually go into the dwelling places of Native Americans dating back to the 13th Century. Yet these dwellings intrude little upon the wild ruggedness of the countryside, as they are literally part of the rock walls that make up the canyons. Wow! More than anything else, it brings to mind Shakespeare's warning,


All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;

They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts . .



 The Park Service describes this park as "An Open Book of Human History.


 Here's how I describe it, excerpted from Legacy on the Land:


"We visited nearby Bandelier National Monument, driving past the Los Alamos nuclear complex to get there, and gaped in awe at the original cliff dwellings of Pueblo Indians who had thrived in the area as far back as 10,000 years ago. The vast cliff walls were pocked with openings leading into small caves where Native Americans had lived since the 13th Century. We climbed the ladder and entered one of the caves, and found it quite spacious. Soot from the Indians' cooking fires still colored the roof. Once again, the lines between past and present appeared to blur.





From a distance, you can't tell that these cliffs contain the remnants of the Pueblo Indians' homes.




"We visited one of the Kivas where the Natives practiced their spiritual rites and ceremonies, and mimicked grinding corn on one of the stone implements that their ancestors had used to refine their principal food so many years ago. Just walking on the trail that meanders through the forest brought me a sense of great peace and tranquility, even after learning that, for several years during World War II, the park had been closed to the public and the lodge used to house scientists and military people working on the Manhattan Project (that produced the first atomic bombs.)


"The Park Service tells the story of how Spanish settlers replaced the Native American populations in the area. "In the mid-1700's Spanish settlers with Spanish land grants made their homes in Frijoles Canyon. In 1880 Jose Montoya of Cochiti Pueblo brought Adolph F. A. Bandelier to Frijoles Canyon. Montoya offered to show Bandelier his people's ancestral homelands. . ."


"I still don't knowhow the park came to be named for Bandelier and what happened in the interim, but park documents illustrate how the park was established:



. . . in late 1899, Commissioner Binger Hermann ordered J. D. Mankin, an agency clerk in New Mexico, to make an inspection of the ruins. Mankin was astonished to find himself in the midst of a lost civilization. "From a single eminence on the Pajarito," he wrote, "the doors of more than two thousand [cave and cavate lodge] . . . dwellings may be seen, and the number in the entire district would reach tens of thousands. If arranged in a continuous series they would form an unbroken line of dwellings of not less than sixty miles in length. . ."





"Bandelier National Monument was formally established in 1916 to preserve the historical and cultural artifacts as well as the ecological system. Between 1934 and 1941, the Civilian Conservation Corp worked in the park building a road into Frijoles Canyon, where many of the cave dwellings and miles of trail are located, along with a lodge and the current Visitor Center.




    Members of the cast amd crew were surprised to learn they were in a national park.



On my most recent visit to Bandelier, there was a film crew onsite filming a commercial. The director was showing a young woman how to pose alluringly at the entrance to one of the cave homes while a young man came up the ladder to embrace her. I couldn't help asking the actors if they knew they were in a national park, and to my surprise, they didn't! To the crew, it was just a good location to shoot. Yikes! 11,000 years of real history as just a backdrop for the depiction of something totally unreal. . .a metaphor for where our culture is today? Upon our exit, what will the landscape we leave behind say about us?




If you've missed any of our "365 Parks in 365 Days" adventures, find them here (Archive







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