Day 4: Sunset Crater & Wupatki

I came down with a severe case of allergies that nearly ended our trip 3 days early, so this update is a day late and a buck short. But tough! This blog is free!

We spent the day entering into Sunset Crater, which, by the way, is NOT A REAL CRATER! It’s volcano that blew its top some 900 years ago. Its top is all sunk in, but you can’t climb to the concave peak. So what’s the point?! 

There’s still other stuff to see. For starters, the lava flows that volcano left behind are bizarre, moon-like alien worlds of black jagged piles of rock in every direction for as far as the eye can see.

Wupatki: A national monument that butts up against Sunset Crater. Wupatki is another set of ruins of native peoples from about 1100 AD.

While at the visitor’s center, we read one of the exhibits that stated that natives who still lived in the ruins or around the ruins were forced to leave when the US government decided the ruins were “national”. Too bad the nation the land actually belonged to didn’t matter.

What’s worse? The largest ruin, which conveniently sat just behind the visitor’s center, was reshaped, reconstructed, and manipulated to “withstand human contact” and “better preserve the integrity of the site”. Not only, does the US claim sacred places as its own national treasure while stealing it from those with rightful ownership, bit it desecrated that same property to fit the enjoyment of paying customers.

The reconstructed, manipulated, displayed ruin

In the 1930s, “entrepreneurs” were allowed to come onto this US protected land to take and sell found pottery. Today, customers are called thieves and heavily fined if they take pottery they find. In the 30s natives were told to pack it up so US citizens could enjoy the beauty without all those dirty natives screwing it all up. At the same time, rich ranchers were allowed to graze cattle on that same protected land…until 1989!

While at one of the more secluded ruins, Melanie and I just sat quiet. We watched field mice scurry around in search of seed, lizards roam the desert floor, and listen to the mice eating their finds in the canyon below. Yes, it was that quiet.

We discussed how people could be so heartless as to displace or murder entire people just because their life or very existence is “inconsistent” with the money interests of others. We wondered what such a tranquil and quiet place was like when it was a bustling city of more than 2000 inhabitants.

Needless to say, we have a very different view of life and the world at large since we started our trip last weekend.

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