Chimney Rock: A Short Reflection on Sacredness

A landscape reveals many faces. It is understood in many ways and interpreted to serve many purposes. It shifts and weaves in and out of perceptions-perceptions that vary depending on culture, philosophy, or religion even. Humans have always and continue to ponder this reality. Often, the reality or decision to conserve aligns with a shared sense of beauty or wonderment. Universally, we recognize beautiful landscapes. It is a sense, having an almost indescribable, mystic origin. How do we really know? Where does that understanding come from? The Grand Canyon is understood as a world treasure, but the austere, desert ranges of Nevada left (historically) for nuclear testing. Land kept and land used. Heaven and hell.

But, an appreciation for beauty (and justifying actions) can also transcend beyond that simpler norm into a deeper, layered understanding of place. The Chimney Rock Archaeological Area of Colorado holds this truth. It is a land tapestry filled with history, spirituality, and richly perceived by many as a “sacred place”, a place of religious gravity. For that reason, and others, the site becomes a National Monument this Friday.

(Joe Hanel, for The Durango Herald, covers specifics of the upcoming declaration)