Friends of Coronado State Monument host August
The Friends of Coronado State Monument are offering a Flint Knapping
Demonstration on August 16 from noon to 4:00 p.m. at Coronado State
Monument. The Monument is located at 485 Kuaua Road, about a mile
off I-25, just west of Bernalillo on Highway 550. “Knapping
New Mexico” is a diverse group of individuals from all over
the state who are drawn to the ancient art of creating arrowheads,
knives, atlatls, spears and many other kinds of tools out of stone,
the way our ancestors did. See how it’s done and throw some
atlatls while you’re there. For information, call Pat Harris
at 822-8571 or email email@example.com.
On August 17 at 2:00 p.m., Don Bullis, resident of Rio Rancho,
member of numerous writing societies, and retired deputy sheriff/criminal
investigator who enjoys historical research, will give a presentation
as to how the Old West was tamed, especially in territorial New
Mexico. Learn about the in-laws and outlaws, and review the fact
and fiction surrounding this fascinating era of our history. The
lecture will be held at Sandoval County Historical Society’s
DeLavy House, located on Edmond Road in Bernalillo. Take Highway
550, slightly west of Coronado State Monument, turn north on the
west edge of the Phillips 66 gas station and onto a dirt road (Edmond
Road). Follow the road to its end; signs will be posted. No reservations
are needed for this program. Admission is $5 per person and is free
to members of Friends of Coronado State Monument.
Corrales Historical Society calls for entries
The Corrales Historical Society is calling for entries for its
twentieth annual Fine Art Show. Jurying for the 2008 show will take
place on August 21 from 9:00 a.m. until noon at the Old San Ysidro
Church in Corrales. The entry fee is $30 for three pieces. For information,
artists should contact Hope Grey of the Visual Arts Council at 897-3942.
The Fine Art Show will be held October 4 to October 12 at the Church.
Rio Rancho to survey citizens
The City of Rio Rancho is participating in The National Citizen
Survey. A random sample of twelve hundred Rio Rancho households
will be surveyed and asked for feedback on the quality and usefulness
of city services.
The survey process will begin on July 21 when those households
that have been selected to participate will receive a pre-notification
postcard. On July 28 and August 4, surveys will be provided to the
United States Postal Service for delivery to households. Residents
will need to complete and mail back their surveys using a postage-paid
envelope that will be provided by August 20. Results of the survey
will be provided to the city in late September and will be used
as part of the city’s strategic planning process.
For additional information about the survey, including frequently
asked questions, residents can visit the city’s website at
The National Citizen Survey is sponsored by the International City/County
Management Association in cooperation with the National Research
Center, Inc. The questionnaire and survey procedure were designed
based on the experience of hundreds of local governments, ranging
in size from small to large. Scientific sampling and weighting of
the responses in each city ensure accurate and reliable results.
Over two hundred municipalities in forty states have participated
in The National Citizen Survey over the past eight years, including
Alamogordo, Bloomfield, Farmington, and Taos, New Mexico.
El Rinconcito Español
Nada es verdad ni nada es mentira;
todo depende del cristal con que se mira.
Nothing is truth, nothing is lie;
it all depends on the lens it’s seen through.
Una buena acción es la mejor oración.
A good action is the best prayer.
Mala hierba, nunca muere.
A bad herb never dies.
Submitted by www.sospanyol.com,
Placitas—Spanish instruction that focuses on oral communication
Chaco Rising, a sculpture by Jaymes Dudding
The Sun Dagger
The Great Center
—MARGARET M. NAVA
Archaeologists believe nomadic groups frequented the twenty-five-thousand-square-mile
San Juan Basin of the Colorado Plateau as early as ten thousand
years ago. Moving from place to place, these ancestors of today’s
Puebloan people foraged wild plants and seeds and used atlatls (spear
throwers) to hunt game. Two or three thousand years ago, they began
to experiment with farming. Living in seasonal pit houses, they
planted squash, beans, and corn, and wove baskets to store their
harvests. Sometime around A.D. 500, they began building aboveground
houses and creating small agricultural settlements. Then, in the
middle of the ninth century, they established an important cultural
center in the very center of the San Juan Basin. That center is
now known as Chaco Canyon.
It is believed that Chaco was a meeting place, a market town, and
possibly even a spiritual or ceremonial center. The people who lived
there erected great stone houses (some as tall as five stories),
built enormous dams, and channeled runoff rainwater to irrigate
their crops. An intriguing aspect of Chacoan culture was the road
system that radiated from the canyon floor. Some of the roads were
as wide as thirty feet and more than forty miles long. All of them
led to outlying settlements or prominent landforms such as Fajada
Fajada Butte (Banded Butte) rises more than 450 feet above the
surrounding canyon. Although there is no water source on the butte,
there are ruins of several small cliff dwellings in its higher regions.
Analysis of fragments of pottery found on Fajada show that the butte
was inhabited in the tenth century.
While working on a field project atop the butte in the midsummer
of 1977, artist Anna Sofaer noticed three slabs of sandstone leaning
against a cliff. At approximately noon on the summer solstice, a
single shaft of light shone through the slabs, perfectly bisecting
a spiral petroglyph inscribed on the cliff face. Going back time
after time, Sofaer observed that the sun shining through the slabs
sliced through a smaller petroglyph on the winter solstice and formed
two parallel brackets of light at both the spring and fall equinoxes.
She was amazed. She had discovered a celestial calendar of the ancient
Earning the name “Sun Dagger,” the phenomenon attracted
the attention of scientists, sightseers, and moviemakers. In 1982,
PBS aired a documentary that had tourists flocking to the canyon
in droves. Suddenly, the once deserted site was world-famous and
everyone wanted to see it. Unfortunately, the environment was fragile,
and in 1989, after years of torrential rain and damaging foot traffic,
the foundation of clay and gravel around the base of the slabs shifted
and the Sun Dagger disappeared. That is, until Jaymes Dudding came
In the winter of 2007, the City of Rio Rancho put out a request
for artists to submit ideas for a piece of original art to enhance
visitors’ experience to its new City Hall. Jaymes Dudding,
a retired fine arts professor, now teaching at Walatowa Charter
High School on Jemez Pueblo, created a twelve-inch-high clay model
replicating Chaco Canyon’s Sun Dagger. He called it Chaco
Rising. Of the six artists who submitted ideas, Dudding’s
With an early spring deadline, Jaymes set to work. Choosing four
blocks of solid Styrofoam for the final form, he used a chain saw,
grinder, and hand sander to shape the blocks to resemble the original
slabs at Chaco. Next, he covered the blocks with three coats of
acrylic binder to make them strong. Between the first and second
coats, he used a layer of fiberglass mesh to hold everything together
and prevent cracks. He says, “getting the color was the fun
part of the creation. I tried to get the colors of nature. One slab
is a reddish color, one bluish, one yellowish, and the fourth a
combination of them all. I added the sparkles (mica) because I wanted
the piece to catch the sun and the sun’s shadows.”
Dudding’s wife, an artist in her own realm, fashioned a glass
insert that replicates the Sun Dagger’s petroglyphs. Using
a special glass created for the Space Agency, she fused pieces of
the broken material to a layer of black glass and then fused a layer
of clear glass over the top to seal it. Depending on the angle of
the sun and the position of the viewer, the glass flashes green,
blue, orange, and red. Although it is hard to see, the finished
insert was placed inside the slabs so that the sun would slice through
the openings and bisect the petroglyphs.
Rising eight feet from the ground and ten feet in diameter, Chaco
Rising was installed and dedicated outside the east entrance of
the new Rio Rancho City Hall on April 23, 2008. The only thing left
to do was find out if it worked.
Early on the morning of June 21, Jaymes Dudding, along with a local
woman who is a longtime solstice observer, and a woman from Jemez
Pueblo who is a potter and drummer, gathered at the sculpture. As
the sun slowly rose above the Sandias and edged toward the sculpture,
all three held their breath. Would the sun bisect the petroglyph?
The woman from Jemez Pueblo beat her drum and quietly sang. Were
her words welcomed by the sun?
And then it happened—the sun worked its way through the slabs,
reached the glass insert, and speared the petroglyph like a dagger…
just like at Chaco.
Dudding was elated. “It was magical. Ancient solar calendars
and markers exist all around the world,” he said. “But
my piece recognizes and pays homage to the ingenuity and beauty
of the Pueblo people. It’s an attempt to recreate what was
important to their survival, and I think it is an attempt to reconnect
us to the cycles of nature and how the passage of the sun affects
After thousands of years, the Sun Dagger at Chaco Canyon, the center
of the ancient Puebloan world, vanished. Hopefully, Chaco Rising
will be around for a long time at Rio Rancho’s great new City
For more information about Anna Sofaer and her studies, visit www.solsticeproject.org.
To learn more about Jaymes Dudding and his work, visit www.jaymesdudding.com.