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Black Rock

A Zuni Cultural Landscape and the Meaning of Place

William A. Dodge

Publication Year: 2007

To visiting geologists Black Rock, New Mexico, is a basaltic escarpment and an ideal natural laboratory. To hospital workers Black Rock is a picturesque place to earn a living. To the Zuni the mesas, arroyos, and the rock itself are a stage on which the passion of their elders is relived. William A. Dodge ex-plores how a shared sense of place evolves over time and through multi-ple cultures that claim the landscape. Through stories told over many generations, this landscape has given the Zuni an understand-ing of how they came to be in this world. More recently, paleogeographers have studied the rocks and landforms to better understand the world as it once was. Archaeologists have conducted research on ancestral Zuni sites in the vicinity of Black Rock to explore the cultural history of the region. In addition, the Anglo-American employees of the Bureau of Indian Affairs came to Black Rock to advance the federal Indian policy of assimilation and brought with them their own sense of place. Black Rock has been an educational complex, an agency town, and an Anglo community. Today it is a health care center, commercial zone, and multiethnic subdivision. By describing the dramatic changes that took place at Black Rock during the twentieth century, Dodge deftly weaves a story of how the cultural landscape of this community reflected changes in government policy and how the Zunis themselves, through the policy of Indian self-determination, eventually gave new meanings to this ancient landscape. William A. Dodge is a cultural historian at Van Citters Historic Preservation LLC in Albuquerque, New Mexico. He has worked for over thirty years in southwestern cultural resources and was director of the Zuni Archaeology Program at the Pueblo of Zuni.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

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pp. ix-xv

The research for this book was conducted over a four-year period as a part of my dissertation studies conducted in the Department of American Studies at the University of New Mexico. My goal was to explore the concept of place, cultural landscapes, and the connection between place and cultural identity in the small community of Black Rock on the ...

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Prologue: A Visit to Black Rock

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pp. xvii-xxi

For the visitor driving west from Albuquerque, the first view of Black Rock comes from the east. New Mexico Highway 53 crosses the cattle guard that demarcates the Zuni Indian Reservation from privately owned ranch land and passes the historic Zuni farming village of Pescado with its mixture of modern frame-stucco homes and older sandstone houses ...

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CHAPTER 1. Introduction to Place-Making, Identity, and Cultural Landscapes

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pp. 3-16

This is a story about a place—Black Rock, New Mexico—a small community in the west-central part of the state, forty miles south of Gallup and four miles east of the Pueblo of Zuni.1 It is a story about landforms, ancestral settlements, culturally significant Zuni sites, a town created by the federal government and its eventual transition into a modern hous-...

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CHAPTER 2. A Place of Landforms, Imagination, and Spirituality

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pp. 17-40

The mesas, drainages, springs, and lava fl ow that make up the Black Rock landscape have been formed over the eons by natural forces and interpreted by modern-day geologists. These landforms have also been interpreted by the imagination and spiritual beliefs of the Zuni people themselves, and these beliefs continue to be passed down from generation ...

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CHAPTER 3. Peopling the Place

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pp. 41-78

Humans have called Black Rock and the Zuni River valley home for thou-sands of years. How they came to this place and survived on the land is an enthralling yet incomplete story. Incomplete, that is, unless you put aside traditional Western scholarship and listen to the stories that Zunis tell...

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CHAPTER 4. Constructing the Zuni Dam

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pp. 79-97

People the world over have constructed water-control structures, both small and large, ever since farmers discovered the need to store and redirect this indispensable commodity. However, harnessing the natural forces that direct this action does not always go as planned. The federal government’s hydrology plans for Zuni were no exception, and as a result, ...

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CHAPTER 5. The Zuni Agency Boarding School at Black Rock

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pp. 99-126

Education has long been used as a tool of colonial powers to subjugate and control populations. Indian boarding schools in particular have been accused of repressing Native culture and “taking the Indian out of the Indian.” On-reservation boarding schools were designed, in part, to minimize some of this oppressive atmosphere by bringing this form of school-...

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CHAPTER 6. Appropriating Place: Black Rock, an Agency Town

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pp. 127-150

As Zuni students did their best to make a “home” out of their dormitory at Black Rock, the government employees, traders, and other non-Zunis who lived in the new town also endeavored to create a place where they could comfortably reside. And, indeed, in the first several decades of the twentieth century they did transform Black Rock into a place that was ...

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CHAPTER 7. Taking Back Black Rock: The Indian New Deal and Self-Determination

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pp. 151-194

The world is constantly changing. Change affects individuals, communities, and cultures. Sometimes it is almost imperceptibly slow, while other times it comes fast and in a dramatic fashion. In the first half of the twentieth century, after an initial flurry of activity, the sleepy, remote little town of Black Rock moved along at its own pace, and the people ...

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CHAPTER 8. Making Sense of Black Rock’s Cultural Landscape

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pp. 195-204

There have been many people who have called Black Rock “home.” For Zunis, calling Black Rock home is relatively easy. The landscape, the histories, and the stories of the place are familiar and comforting. What about the others, however, the outsiders, the people who came and stayed for a while and then left for another place? How did they make Black Rock feel ...


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pp. 205-227


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pp. 229-239


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pp. 241-244

E-ISBN-13: 9781604733150
E-ISBN-10: 1604733152
Print-ISBN-13: 9781578069934
Print-ISBN-10: 1578069939

Publication Year: 2007