Mescalero women recollect first visits to Otero Mesa

Alamogordo Daily News
October 2, 2012

By Janice Merino

As I looked out upon the beautiful mesa, I imagined my ancestors running over the grasslands.

The Chiricahua were nomadic by nature and would travel by foot from place to place, over hundreds of miles, following their food source through the seasons. My soul whispered, “I love this land.”
My people could easily be hidden in the shadows of the land, hidden from the U.S. Cavalry. They were the last to surrender to the U.S. government.

They were excellent warriors and knew how to be one with nature. As I hiked through the hills and rocks with ancient writings, I was amazed by the revelation I was given. They loved Usen (God). He gave them strength, wisdom, intellect and an intense desire to live and fight.

They survived off the food and water in the desert that most people would not be able to find. They left hidden tales and messages for those who would come generations later, messages written in stone, of heaven, power and a way of life.

This place, like many scattered across southern New Mexico and Arizona, is sacred but also precious to a generation that hungers for knowledge of their ancestors.

The teenage boys were eager to explore this mountain. Others were amazed at the abundant amount of Indian food and medicine that was available in this place. I just soaked it all in. I began to feel a little homesick as memories of my grandmother flashed through my mind. I began to wonder about the life my ancestors lived.

It is easy to see the hardship, but I could not help but think of how wonderful it could have been in times of peace. I think of the history of America. So much misunderstanding and pain, but my people lived free. No one could capture or break that spirit. It’s still alive today, in my relatives, on the wind, and in the secret places where my people thrived and survived.
And that freedom is here, alive on Otero Mesa.

By Rainey Enjady

Without a doubt, Otero Mesa is one of the most spectacular places I have ever ventured to. It is tranquil and peaceful. The enticing and serene scenery is a timeless space of beauty, wonder and longing.

I was able to witness nature’s spectacle at its finest — the forces of erosion, wind and water, thunderstorms, bitter cold and broiling heat. The places where life clings and thrives, sometimes for only days, other times for centuries.

One can lose oneself here, both physically and spiritually. The most lasting impressions are the exultation of high plateaus, the strength of the plants and the simplicity of the sand and grass, the silence of growth.

Here, everything is sharp and clear. The colors are such that cannot be portrayed as they are deep and rich as if the light flowed in and out of the rock rather than being reflected by it.
Otero Mesa holds a perfect and natural balance between lifelessness and living vibrancy.

Janice Merino is a Mescalero Apache tribal member and a descendant of Cochise and Victorio. Rainey Enjady is a descendant of Chief Natzille and a member of the Mescalero Apache Tribe. This article was submitted by Otero County Citizens for Otero Mesa which is building local support for the permanent protection of Otero Mesa. Em-ail



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