Zuni Lake

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Wed Jul 24 11:56:02 MDT 2002


Counterpunch, July 24, 2002
The Battle for Zuni Salt Lake
by Jeffrey St. Clair

For the Zuni, this place is the center of the world. For the Department of
the Interior under Gale Norton, it's just another coal seam, 18,000 acres
of wasteland just waiting to be strip-mined.

The pueblo tribes of the Southwest call this place the Zuni Salt Lake
sanctuary. The Interior Department and the mining company insist on calling
it by the less alluring Fence Lake.

Located about 60 miles south of Zuni pueblo, Zuni Salt Lake is a rare, high
desert lake. It's extremely shallow, with the depth varying from four feet
to only a foot and a half. During the summer months, much of the water
evaporates under the scorching New Mexico sun, leaving behind beds of salt.

For centuries, the pueblo tribes of the Southwest, including the Zuni,
Acoma, Laguna, Hopi and Taos pueblos, have made annual pilgrimages to Zuni
Lake to harvest salt, for both culinary and ceremonial purposes. Ancient
roadways radiate out from the lake to the various pueblos. The lake itself
is considered sacred, home the Salt Mother deity, who the Zuni call Ma'l
Oyattsik'i.

The land surrounding Zuni Salt Lake has always been considered a sanctuary
zone, a kind of inter-tribal commons were hostilities are lain aside,
purification ceremonies are performed and the sacred salts are gathered.
Anthropologists say these areas, termed Neutrality Zones, are rare in North
America and the Zuni Lake site is one of the most prominent and well preserved.

full: http://www.counterpunch.org/stclair0724.html



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