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Bob Ayre Southwest Reading List

Who is the bigger fool? One who loans books or one who brings them back?

New Mexico…Land of Enchantment or in Spanish “La Tierra Encantada” Some of us believe its not enchanted but bewitched. We set our roots down here in 1965 and we have fallen under the spell.

Many of our friends speak three, four and more languages. Spanish, English, Navajo, Hopi, Zuni, Tewa, Tiwa, Keres and Apache. Multicultural si.

I have assembled this list to give you a start on your own enchantments, but remember, “Every calculation based on experience elsewhere, fails in New Mexico”. Lew Wallace, Territorial Governor. 1878-81 and author of Ben Hur

Chaco Culture National Historic Park (Pueblo Bonito) and Related Sites

If you see only one place in New Mexico World Heritage Site is the place. One can visit Chaco and be awestruck by the presence of the buildings, the location and the mystery. Now the rooms are bare. Most of what was here when archaeologists started their excavation has been removed to basements and displays of institutions far from here. Some of the materials have never been unpacked. Several good references are available for decent prices on online bookstores. If your local library does not have them they are available on inter library loan.

“Pueblo Children Mother Earth” Thomas E. Mails. Well illustrated descriptions of ancient American cultures.

“Pueblo Bonito” George Pepper. Many books bear this title. First published in 1920. The best record of artifacts excavated in Chaco Canyon. Too bad there is no color.

“Ancient Ruins of the Southwest” David Grant Noble. Great Survey of many southwestern sites. In guidebook format but in depth discussions of major archaeological sites.

Tony Hillerman. 

Start with “Dance Hall of the Dead” and work your way up to 18.

His Obituary in the Guardian ends:

“Although his books were thought somewhat "preachy" by some critics, there was no denying his passion for dispelling the accumulated ignorance about Native American mysticism and religion. He would sign copies of his books with the Navajo blessing Hozho!, urging his readers to be in balance with their natural surroundings. No one seemed to have a bad word for him - in English or Navajo”.

More on the Southwest

“Southwestern Indian Arts & Crafts” “Southwestern Indian Tribes””Southwestern Indian Ceremonials” Three books by Tom Bahti and Mark Bahti available on Amazon or new in most museum and gift shops.

“House of Rain” Craig Childs. Revisionist perspectives based on personal experience and careful analysis of existing material. A bibliography which leads you to a new appreciation of what went on at Chaco and the Colorado Plateau in pre-historic times.

“The Secret Knowledge of Water” Craig Childs. “There are two ways to die in the desert: Thirst and Drowning” Thought provoking ideas about water in waterless places. Earlier this year, at the Fiesta de San Antonio, Matachines led a procession to the village spring. The priest began his blessing “Here in New Mexico we are obsessed with water”

“Sky Determines” Ross Calvin. A marvelous book, can be found in the used section of Amazon. You can read bits or pieces; put it down and pick it up later. It’s a long rambling narrative of the Southwest. This might be best read after your first visit to this part of the world.

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