This is Zuni Salt Lake

It’s about forty miles south of the Zuni Rez, almost in AZ.

There’s a ghost town you can barely see in the pic…. used to be a considerable community down in there when it was private land, from the mid-1800s until the 1950s, evaporating salt from the huge concrete beds.  Most of the buildings are still intact, though they’re going away rapidly.

Today it belongs to the Zuni tribe, one section of land, but it’s not in the national trust as part of the Rez.  Tribes have been acquiring a lot of land from casino monies and other ways during the past decades, making the lands acquired ‘tribal’, but not Rez, which puts them into an interestingly ambiguous position insofar as road maintenance and county taxes.

Salt Lake was acquired as a piece of a lawsuit against the US government involving an airplane with a hydrogen bomb aboard that crashed on the Rez, with first responders being Zunis, but which the feds didn’t bother telling them about the bomb, leaving emergency workers exposed to hazardous materials without knowing it.  The tribe got a few million out of that, which they used to purchase 60k acres of land to the south of the Rez, but Salt Lake was thrown in as a bonus.

Salt Lake’s a sacred place for the Zunis, home of Salt Mother.  If you are willing to risk hopping the fence and wandering around down there ….. it’s a volcano crater with a hollow secondary plug you can climb, then a spiral trail leading back down inside … that’s where most of the rituals for Salt Mother are held… but all over that section you’ll pass over various religious items from recent times you’d be well advised to leave untouched.

Salt Lake used to be the place all the warring tribes got their salt throughout history.  A place where a constant truce between enemy tribes existed.

It’s also part of what the power companies would love to strip mine.   The great percentage of the desert surrounding it, from north of Springerville, and Saint Johns, Arizona is government land with shallow coal deposits comparatively inexpensive to ‘recover’.  They’ve already converted the desert on the Arizona side to a wasteland.  Still desert, but more in the moonscape vein than the usual, regular arid country mode.

The people in El Paso and Phoenix need electricity so they can fire up their hair dryers every morning, and keep their homes refrigerated.   Those places have climates uncomfortable to the human skin most of the time and they’d rather savage a few million acres of country they’ve never visited and never will than suffer a few degrees of discomfort and use a towel to dry their hair.

Which the Zuni believe would thoroughly piss off Salt Mother, with considerable resulting pain for the Zunis, and all the rest of us.

They might be right.

The Zuni and a few commie-pinko-obstructionist greenie environmentalists are the only people who give a damn, and the other desert-dwellers in the area would welcome the jobs helping ravage the country around them would bring to the area.  The last time I looked the Zuni tribe was burning up a lot of tribal money trying to stop the mine expansion into New Mexico.  The prospects didn’t appear promising because the New Mexico government, the feds, and the mining interests were stacked up singing songs of human progress and greater good.

Heck, it’s been a few years now.  Maybe they’re already mining it.  Probably easier to ask someone in Phoenix or El Paso whether the hair dryer worked this morning and if it did, assume that desert has gone to the moon.

Old Jules


24 responses to “This is Zuni Salt Lake

  1. That about covers it. Has the little guy gotten very much in the last 10 years. Given as how I perceive that my guess is that the 1% will eventually get this as well.

    Mom will be pissed!!

    Good stuff Jules.

    BTW -20 this morning.

    • One Fly: Hard freeze here, too. Water froze inside the cabin. I’m still trying to thaw some for the chickens and cats. Yep, one can hope Mom will be pissed enough to snort and buck enough to turn some heads. Gracias, J

  2. Very cool. Thanks for sharing.

  3. I haven’t visited in a while. And reading this piece leaves me sorry about that. I’m missing out on some good thinking here, thanks again 🙂

  4. Thanks for visiting my site today, Jules, and for following it! This is the first time I’ve seen your blog and I’m intrigued – I like today’s post a lot. I’m going to follow your site too, by adding it to my RSS feedreader.

  5. That could be a good target for your local occupy. Natives hold a special place in our various occupations. What we call ‘Progressive Stack’ gives Natives a preferred position in the General Assembly. Reading this article pissed me off, I am sure if the Nevada/New Mexico/Arizona occupiers got enough wind of that they would find a way to raise hell at someones headquarters. This does not need to be treated as an environmental or even cultural symptom- occupy wall street goes straight to the cause of the problem: Greed and Corruption.

    • Morning arifmvega: I suppose the folks out there will have to deal with it. I’m located far away enough to just remember it all without being near enough to have to think much about it. Gracias, Jules

  6. Hi Jules,
    Again, a very interesting article. I keep wondering how we’ll be able to rfeconcile the needs for preservation and conservation of nature with the obvious need to make use of natural resources. Mankind’s present rate of exploitation cannot go on, but then, will we be able to survive at all? Not at our present level, I believe.
    Anyway: it definitely should not be the government and the big corporations [is there any difference between the two I often wonder] that decicde where and what to exploit, but the owners of the land.
    Best regards, and stay warm in the Hill Country,

    • Morning Pit. Trying to stay warm here without a lot of success at the moment. I agree about the human chances for maintaining our current level of living, even the current level of those living out of dumpsters. I’m more-or-less happy it’s higher than my pay grade. Gracias, Jules

  7. Looks like a fascinating place. I hope it’s around long enough for me to visit it someday. I have no problem with business making a buck, but at some point somebody needs to weigh short-term gains versus long-term losses.

    Sadly, it seems the older I get – and I ain’t that old yet – the less I fit in with the prevailing notions evident in today’s world.

    Thanks for the post, Jules.

  8. why didn’t you tell me the damn place was radioactive when we explored it in “94”

    • Hi Keith. Good seeing you. I thought we might have lost track of one another again. The plane with the H bomb was up between Pescado and Zuni Town. We were probably nearer to it when we were exploring Oso Ridge and Grasshopper Canyon than when we were at Salt Lake. In fact, Santa Rita Mesa’s quite a lot nearer. Maybe that snowstorm we nearly got lost in on Santa Rita was radioactive. Thanks for coming by for a read. Gracias, J

  9. Well maybe the bomb didn’t hit the lake so my apologies–good read though!

  10. coal is not an answer to anything. Its a dirty secret in view of the deserts ability to produce power with the sun and wind. Gonna be in New Mexico for most of 2012. Hope to get a feel for the place. Keep ’em coming!

  11. Your article very much. I re-read a new post.

  12. This is very offensive you people dont understand what Zuni religon is about if you want to post stuff like this on the internet be my guest its what we believe in u dont like it stay off our land.

    • zuni01: I acknowledge your ability to choose to be offended by the inoffensive. Reading comprehension’s always been difficult. Hope your remarks are merely prideful posturing for attention, as opposed to an inability to read and comprehend. Thanks for stopping by for a read. Gracias, J

  13. The salt lake was never “privately owned” It was state land. It was operated
    for many years under a long term lease ( I have heard 60 years, but am not sure that is right) by Newt Curtis who lived in Quemado in the late 40,s. I dont know when they closed the post office.

  14. Garrett P Midkiff

    Thank you for sharing! Do you know the history on the buildings and the houses at all?

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