Jack wrote this in September, 2005:
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 1840s 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.
Anyway, Salt Lake used to be the place all the tribes got their salt throughout history. A place where a constant truce between warring tribes existed.
It’s also part of what the power companies would love to strip mine so El Paso and Phoenix can fire up their hair dryers every morning, and keep their homes refrigerated.
Which the Zunis believe would thoroughly piss off Salt Mother, with considerable resulting pain for the Zunis, and all the rest of us.
They might be right.