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Enchantment and exploitation: the life and hard times of a by William deBuys

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By William deBuys

This strange booklet is an entire account of the heavily associated traditional and human historical past of the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of northern New Mexico, a area specified in its wealthy blend of ecological and cultural range.

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Additional info for Enchantment and exploitation: the life and hard times of a New Mexico mountain range

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Louis to New Mexico were men still looking for their country and still finding and stealing it. They were followed by ranchers and farmers, miners, lawyers, and thieves, soldiers, and tourists who came piling into New Mexico in wave after wave, and at least part of every wave broke against the mountains, leaving an indelible imprint. Book Two begins with a subtle shift in the tide of Anglo conquest. The presence in the mountains of parties of the Wheeler Survey, inventorying the natural resources of the region, presaged the rise of scientific and entrepreneurial approaches to land use, strongly aided and subsidized by the federal government.

We moderns do not have sacred mountains in our lives, but we do have needs. Cut off the power to the electronic installation atop the Sandias; turn off the transmitters in any city or town in the country and rapidly the pattern of daily life will erode; people will feel disoriented, as though an important part of the landscape had vanished. The Pueblo Indians would understand. For centuries they have knownand in spite of the decline of subsistence farming and the modern intrusions of tourism, Wonder Bread, and the Bureau of Indian Affairs, it appears that they still do knowwhat it is to depend on a mountain.

Long known to Spanish colonists simply as the Sierra Madre, the mountains are broken by a relatively accessible pass near present-day Walsenburg, Colorado. As early as 1779 the river flowing east from the pass was identified on maps by the name Sangre de Cristo. The name was subsequently applied to the pass itself, and later, as sizable numbers of traders and trappers entered New Mexico by way of the pass, to the entire mountain range. This last extension of the name was firmly cemented in the public mind by the florescence of the passionately religious Penitente Brotherhood during the middle and late 1800s.

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