NEW MEXICO TRIP 2012
Red Rock Adventure
New Mexico’s dream-like landscape, dusk till dawn, suggests an ingrained mysticism. It is a land whose beauty, in so many ways, cannot be compared to any other landscape. Its earth-born tans and oranges are unlike any other space in North America. Its history and cultures go back farther and deeper than anything Anglo.
Researchers claim that as early as 2500 B.C., big-game hunters roamed the landscape around what is today the Zuni pueblo. While Jesus Christ walked the Judean hills, descendants of those earliest settlers hunted small game and tried their hand at raising crops in the desert ground. A century before Columbus came to America, the pueblo began forming as the region’s inhabitants centralized into a town. And a century before the Puritans, the Spanish explorer Coronado, following a war with the Zunis, left them the blessing of horses and sheep.
The Navajo, a semi-nomadic tribe of indigenous people and the largest tribe of Native people in North America, were not always peaceable neighbors. They raided the Zuni and many other pueblo peoples. Because they lived and worked and played in disparate bands, they never had a single leader until 1855. Manuelito (sometimes called Holy Boy) became a captain, a leader, and a hero to his people at the time of the “the Long Walk,” when the U.S. military moved the Navajo people from Arizona to New Mexico.
The stories of ancient Zuni people and the story of the Navajo are stories worth telling and remembering.
Another story worth telling is that of one small denomination’s mission enterprise, which has, a century later, blossomed in ways that few Christian mission enterprises have among the indigenous people of North America.
Christian Reformed missionaries came to New Mexico’s Navajo and Zuni just before the turn of the 20th century, to peoples with a history and a culture, including a religious faith deeply rooted and thoughtfully maintained.
We’ll go there, stepping lightly, respectfully, on red earth and red rocks that hold more stories than almost any acre of American soil. We’ll listen to people, visit their worlds, relive their history and ours, observe unique flora and fauna, walk into rich desert eco-systems, and discover exactly why New Mexico calls itself “the land of enchantment.”
Because it is just that.
Dr. James C. Schaap