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253 Frances Levine Introduction Dr. Frances Levine, an ethnohistorian who has lived in New Mexico for more than three decades, is the author of Our Prayers Are in This Place: Pecos Pueblo Identity over the Centuries (University of New Mexico Press, 1999) and presently the director of the Palace of the Governors New Mexico History Museum in Santa Fe. The Palace of the Governors is considered by many the oldest continuously used public edifice in the United States. Fran Levine has a profound insight into the intercultural relationships within the upper Río Grande watershed and how the watershed itself continues to influence these indigenous cultures. As vigorously noted by John Wesley Powell, aridity is the most prevalent characteristic of the American landscape west of the hundredth meridian. Culture groups of myriad persuasions have been passing through the region of the Río Grande Rift for many millennia. Some have followed megafauna such as the woolly mammoths into oblivion; others have lingered, evolving agrarian practices that allowed them the cultural leisure to reflect on their presence within the flow of Nature and to celebrate the local deities and spirits in ceremonials that continue to endure, even in this age of technofantasy cum legalistic bureaucracy in which territorial disputes are settled in the courts rather than in the field. Thus, Frances Levine, photo by Blaire Clark 254 / Seeking the Path of Common Sense we set ourselves apart from our fellow species, unless, of course, we elect to ignore man-made law and go atavistic. A few years ago I interviewed my friend Fran Levine regarding her perceptions of intercultural contact along el Camino Real de Tierra Adentro, the Royal Road to the Interior, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. I asked her if I might include an edited version of that interview in the present work. She asked that instead we consider including an essay she had written that provides a perspective of intercultural relationship enacted within the habitat of the northern Río Grande watershed. It is fitting that Fran Levine’s essay conclude a work that attempts to cast some light on what it takes to survive along the Continental Divide or anywhere else. Frances Levine / 255 Listening to the Land Tradition and Change in the Northern Río Grande Frances Levine Which comes first: the blessing or the prayer? It is not easy in this landscape to separate the role of man from the role of nature. —J. B. Jackson, A Sense of Place, a Sense of Time (1994) Introduction Days after I moved to New Mexico in the early summer of 1976, I attended the first of many ceremonials that would teach me about the connections between the past and the present, and between the secular and the spiritual in this fragile environment. It was June, and so hot I could believe the tall tales people told about frying eggs on the sidewalk. It was the season when Pueblo and Hispanic communities prayed for rain. Throughout New Mexico, community members walked in solemn processions to their fields carrying bultos (statues of saints). There they prayed and watched the billowing clouds for signs of an approaching shower. In many Hispanic communities on the feast day of San Ysidro (May 15) and on the feast of San Juan Bautista (June 24 ) the saints are carried from farm to farm. San Ysidro blesses the spring planting, and San Juan Bautista’s purity is said to bless the waters of streams and acequias (irrigation ditches) as well as those who bathe in the holy waters. In one hymn to San Ysidro, verses seek protection against thieves or bad neighbors , hail, and drought: 256 / Seeking the Path of Common Sense From the accustomed thief Who is never afraid of the Lord Please protect our plants We ask this favor of you The destructive hail Let it not damage our crops We ask you with fervor To have a bountiful harvest this year In all your goodness, kindness, I ask you from my heart To send my plants and crops Favors and your blessings Del ladrón acostumbrado Que nunca teme al Señor Nos libre nuestro sembrado Te pedimos por favor El granizo destructor Que no nos cause su daño Te pedimos con fervor Tener cosecha este año En tus bondades confiado Te pido de corazón Le mandes a mi sembrado Favores y bendición. The dance I saw was a matachines dance. It was held in the community...


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