Arden’s Spanish classes came in handy today as we toured Mesa Verde National Park. The Green Table refers to the high, level, forested area in Southwest Colorado. But the park was more about the pueblos and cliff dwellings built by the Native Americans. The natives originally farmed and lived on the top of the mesa, but built the cliff side dwellings for reasons known only to their Hopi descendants. In the late 1800s, the dwellings were discovered and in 1906, Theodore Roosevelt declared that the area 1) shall be preserved as a national park, subject to occasional government shutdowns and 2) shall never provide cell phone coverage.
Scarlet and Brody immediately requested their Junior Ranger assignments and got to work. After 30 minutes in the Visitors Center, we drove to the cliff dwellings for a ranger-led tour. We were joined by a tour group from Sweden, so the kids fit right in. We were able to get up close and personal with the dwellings. Arden learned that the Park Service archeologists unearthed 2000 skeletons to study them, then (in a moment of remorse) let the Hopi Indians rebury the remains. Scarlet learned that to make clay, one needs hot-shed temper and sand temper and perhaps shale when constructing pottery. Brody learned that corn would be ground down on rocks.
Given our Junior Ranger status, we were given special privilege to enter a Kiva, which is a ceremonial room used by the Mesa Verdeans. The children immersed themselves in reflective prayer.