Cultural Continuity

Francisco Vazquez de Coronado made contact with native people at Hawikku, near present-day Zuni Pueblo, in his futile 1540 search for the Seven Cities of Gold. Since then, the Four Corners region has continued to preserve some of the oldest, most diverse communities within the continental United States. Yet today's modernized society represents a greater threat to cultural community than centuries of population shifts, climatic change, and successive government and military reigns.
    
"To the Navajo, turquoise is symbolic of prosperity and good luck. When you have a belief system like the Navajo and you get up in the morning and are positive, it helps you lead a positive life. Everything I have in my store is symbolic to the Navajo people.

"If you believe strongly in a cultural tradition like the Navajo, that belief will help you in your daily life for years to come. It's a very common sense approach that all people can relate to. That doesn't mean that you must continue to make pottery and baskets and rugs, just like you no longer ride horseback to work every day. But when you have a strong belief system that will carry on forever."

-- Tom Wheeler, a fourth-generation trader and proprietor of the Hogback Trading Post, just east of Shiprock, New Mexico, on the Navajo Nation

"Aridity. It's dominated the Four Corners for centuries, and through time has forced mankind to compete for scarce water resources. First the Indians struggled to grow crops, then Hispanos. The soil rewarded them both only grudgingly. The old cultures managed to survive by developing uncommon powers of endurance.

"Incoming Anglo Americans adapted to the harsh existence in the Four Corners. Still, as the twentieth century advanced, the newcomers imposed a heavy-handed modernity that diluted traditional folkways without entirely displacing them.

"The interplay of natural and human forces has made the Four Corners region the distinctive place we see today. This country has always been a tough place to make a living."

-- Marc Simmons, Southwest historian and author of many books on the Southwest, including Coronado's Land: Essays on Daily Life in Colonial New Mexico

the best travel advice comes from the people who live here
Arnold Vigil

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