Explore New Mexico, the Land of Enchantment
We had so much fun in New Mexico. From bats in Carlsbad Caverns to art markets in Santa Fe, our trip was packed! Looking for white animals at White Sands National Monument was a unique experience!
As we searched for movement in the sand, we heard a voice behind us: “Are you done looking for lizards? We can show you something really neat!”
We turned around and saw dark-haired twins. The girl’s name was Johona, and the boy’s name was Yas. They invited us to visit the Navajo Nation.
The Navajo is one of the largest Native American tribes. Most of the Navajo people live in the Navajo Nation, the territory extending from northwestern New Mexico into parts of Arizona and Utah.
“We want to show you Shiprock. It’s one of our favorite landmarks and a symbol of the Navajo Nation,” said Johona.
Shiprock turned out to be a single mountain rising up hundreds of feet above the flat ground. It really looked like a giant ship stranded in the desert. The twins told us that Shiprock meant the “rock with wings” in the Navajo language. Legend has it that the Navajo people were brought to these lands on the wings of a bird.
The twins suggested we visit Chaco Culture National Historic Park next. The park is huge and features pueblos from a thousand years ago. Chaco Canyon was once the center of the ancient Pueblo Indian culture. Pueblo people built multistory houses, public buildings and ceremonial places in Chaco Canyon. They left the canyon during the 13th century. No one is completely sure why. It could be because the weather changed or new settlers came to the area.
After exploring the canyon, we went to the Four Corners, which is the location where Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico and Utah meet. There’s a monument marking the spot where the four states meet. The monument is a simple concrete plate that you can step on and be in the four states at the same time!
We then went to Farmington, the town close to the Four Corners, to grab lunch. We had carne asada, a spicy dish made of thin strips of marinated and grilled beef with a variety of seasonings. It was served with a side of roasted green hatch chilies, which are famous in New Mexico. The peppers were very spicy, but a bit of sour cream put out the fire in my mouth.
Scroll down to see the Favorites, Photos, and Activity sections!
Sofia and Sam
Festival: Lincoln County Cowboy Symposium
The Cowboy Symposium is an annual festival celebrating the cowboy way of life. There are horse races, cook-offs and dances. I couldn’t wait to put on my cowboy hat and gallop the day away.
Chili Dish: Hot Chili Sauce
In restaurants, waiters would often ask us if we wanted red or green with our meal. “Red or green” stands for a red chili sauce or a green chili sauce.
Petroglyph: Snake Petroglyph
Petroglyph National Monument near Albuquerque features more than 15,000 ancient carvings on the rocks, called petroglyphs. My favorite petroglyph was a snake, which is a symbol of rebirth.
Festival: Gathering of Nations Pow Wow
The Gathering of Nations Pow Wow in Albuquerque is an annual festival celebrating Native American culture. I had a lot of fun watching dancing and singing competitions!
Chili Dish: Hatch Chili Stew
I enjoyed tasting hatch chili stew because it had sweet potato and corn in it and wasn’t too spicy. The smell of roasting hatch chilies was amazing!
Petroglyph: Ram Petroglyph
On the Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, we saw thousands of carvings of birds, animals, people and geometric symbols. I liked the petroglyph of a ram the most. It looked look you would need lots of strength to carve into the hard top layer of these rocks.
Navajo-inspired Clay Pot Craft
The Navajo Indian tribe is one of the largest tribes in the USA. Many Navajo people live in the northwestern part of New Mexico, known as the Navajo Nation. The influence of the Navajo culture on the rest of the state is seen through food, art and culture. Navajo hand-made rugs and clay pots are popular souvenirs that many people bring home with them after visiting New Mexico. Make a clay pot of your own with this fun activity!
- Oven-hardening polymer clay or air-dry clay
- Paint brush
- Water-based acrylic paints (yellow, orange, red or black)
- Rolling pin
- Spread the newspaper on a flat surface such as a table or desk.
- Grab a piece of clay, about the size of a baseball. *
- Roll the clay out using the rolling pin. Create a circular shape by rounding up the edges. (Don't let the clay become too thin. You should be able to pick up your circular shape without it tearing apart.)
- Fold up the sides of your shape to create a pot.
- Place your pot in the oven on low heat for about 20 minutes. (Follow the instructions on the box that contained clay to set the exact temperature needed to harden your shape. Ask an adult for help with the oven.) **
- Take the pot out of the oven and let it cool down.
- Decorate the pot's surface using as many colors and designs as you like. ***
- Enjoy your Navajo-inspired clay pot!
* If you want to create a big pot, use a piece of clay the size of two baseballs.
** If using air-dry clay, don't put your pot in the oven. Leave the pot out for 24 hours to let it harden.
*** Paint geometric shapes such as triangles, diamonds and squares to create a pot similar to the Navajo-style pottery.