Saturday, November 22, 2008

(2) The Patriarchs

Nearly 230 square miles in size, Zion has a long human and
geologic background. Not surprising, but the southern end
of the park area was once inhabited by the ancient Anasazi.
They had disappeared by 1200-1300 c.e.. Centuries later the
Paiute traversed across the land. And eventually the Mormons
discovered Zion. Indeed a number of sections in the park are
named after Mormon historical markers.

And fossils discovered at Zion indicate that this land was once
under the ocean, later submerged under broad rivers, and
now is located within a desert area. Everything changes over
the course of time. Land changes, peoples change. Zion is
a witness to this!

Immediately outside the entrance to Zion, there's the small village
of Springdale, in southern Utah. The time I was there it was a
community of only 500 souls at most. But I thought it was a
fabulous place, in that the community nearly seemed a
congregation of artists and craftsmen. The place boasted
some really neat galleries that more than often displayed
spectacular paintings and photography of Zion's landmarks as
well as the Indian culture of this area.

Springdale also held an annual music festival that oft featured
Indian-New Age music, with truly beautiful flute music as well.
It was here that I began to acquire a serious appreciation of what
is called "Native American" music. Also, modern day electronic
technology has really enhanced this nature-oriented music. An
odd combination, but it somehow works well together.

One of the sections at Zion is called the Temple of Sinawava,
who was the Coyote God of the Paiute Indians. When the
Southern Paiute lived here, they were hunter-gatherers and
practiced limited water irrigation agriculture along Zion's Virgin

The Paiute Indians held a deep reverence for the large
monoliths and turbulent waters in Zion Canyon. They
considered this area their land, but by the mid-19th century
their land was over-run by the Euro-American migration
heading West. After losing their battle against the Whites, the
Paiute fled to the nearby hills and desert of southern Utah.
However, by the early 20th century they received tracts of
reserved land. But, even today members of the Southern
Paiute visit Zion to perform special rituals.

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