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The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project, organized in 1999, seeks to preserve petroglyphs on Mesa Prieta through the education of the local community and recording what may be well over 100,000 images on the mesa.

July 2016 Newsletter

Los Luceros

The New Mexico Department of Cultural Affairs recently decided to eliminate the positions for the managers of the state's six historic sites thus reducing their services to tourists. Historic Los Luceros, across the Rio Grande from Mesa Prieta in Alcalde, came under the cost cutting ax as well. Its manager position will be eliminated and the site closed entirely. These measures will save only a tiny fraction of the state's budget. All this seems short-sighted in a state whose number one industry is tourism.
The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project will be seriously affected by the closing of Historic Los Luceros. We use the facility for our monthly Pláticas lecture series that benefits the entire community, for board meetings, educational training programs, and other events. Finding another adequate site in the area for these activities will be difficult.
Consider calling or writing an email to Senators Tom Udall, Martin Heinrich or Representative Ben Ray Luján, asking that they contact Department of Cultural Affairs Secretary Verónica Gonzáles suggesting that it is false economy to cut tourist services at a time when state oil and gas income is down. Instead, tourism should be bolstered to help make up for lost income in other areas. THE DEADLINE IS JULY 20th.
Here is their contact info:
Senator Tom Udall:                  202 244-6621 
Senator Martin Heinrich:          202 244-5521  
Congressman Ben Ray Luján:  202 225-6190  

Spanish Market Tours

MPPP is offering special tours spotlighting Spanish Colonial period petroglyphs on the Wells Petroglyph Preserve to coincide with the annual Spanish Market in Santa Fe in late July. There are more petroglyphs representing this time period on Mesa Prieta than ANYWHERE else. In addition to images like Christian crosses and horses, visitors will see unique heraldic lion images like those found on the flag of the King of Spain. Tours will be offered on July 22, 27, 29 and August 1, from 8:30 to 10:30 AM. The cost is $50 per person. Sign up on our website at

Annual Flute Player Tour

The Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project's annual Flute Player Tour will take place on October 23rd this year when the cottonwoods along the Rio Grande will be at golden perfection. Guests will arrive at 9:30 and go on an archaeologist led tour to see up to 25 flute player images including many of our unique animals playing flutes -- like that famous armadillo who's been piping away for centuries. Following the hike guests will compare notes and enjoy refreshments until the bell rings and an elegant gourmet lunch prepared by Skillet a Go-Go chef Tanya Story is served on the portal of Katherine Wells' home overlooking the Rio Grande and the autumn cottonwoods backed by the Sangre de Cristos and a profoundly blue sky. Well-known Taos Pueblo flute player Patrick Mirabal will add a note of magical flute music on the hike and during lunch. The price is $175 per person for an exquisite peak experience that helps support MPPP's preservation and education activities. Sign up on our website.   This event is limited to 25 guests.  Tickets go fast!

Petroglyph Pláticas

July 26

Our next Pláticas presentation will be on Tuesday, July 26th at 6:30 PM at Historic Los Luceros in Alcalde. Returning by popular demand will be Dr. Severin Fowles, Associate Professor at Barnard College and Columbia University. Much of his research life in recent years has centered on the Taos Gorge area south to Dixon. His topic will be On the Interpretation of Archaic Rock Art. Anyone who has seen those ancient, strange and wonderful images will want to attend.


August 30

Our August 30th Pláticas speaker will be well-known Southwest author Sharman Russell talking about her newest book, Citizen Science--Revolution and Renaissance. Sharman is well-known for her insightful essays about life in our state and beyond. The talk will be at 6:30 as usual, but the location is to be announced due to the expected closing of Los Luceros. Check our website closer to the date of the talk.


July 21

MPPP founder Katherine Wells was invited to write an article for the 2016 Spring/Summer issue of Chronicles of the Trail/Crónicas del Camino, the journal of the Camino Real de Tierra Adentro Association (CARTA), about the Historic Period petroglyphs on Mesa Prieta. The title is Treasure Trove of Petroglyphs at the Terminus of El Camino Real de Tierra Adentro.  As a result of the work of the MPPP we now know that the 12-mile long landform has the largest number of images from the period showing European influence in what is now the United States. They include crosses, horses, churches, soldiers with weapons, women in skirts and, most remarkably, about a dozen heraldic lion images like the one found on the flag of the King of Spain and other royal objects. Katherine's article underlines the importance of the fact that European settlement in the Southwest began in 1598 at the south end of Mesa Prieta. Before Jamestown in Virginia or Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts the Spanish had settled at Ohkay Owingeh, a little recognized event that still ripples through our national history.
CARTA will hold a meeting at Los Luceros on July 21st. MPPP Project Director, Janet MacKenzie, will give a presentation about Mesa Prieta and the work of the MPPP. 

Last Notes

This month, we bid farewell to Jill Battson, our former Development and Communications manager who is moving on to her next adventure.  Thank you, Jill, for your work.
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Copyright © 2016 Mesa Prieta Petroglyph Project, All rights reserved.
Our mailing address is:
PO Box 407
Velarde, New Mexico, 87582
505 852 1351