PhotoSummer: Artist's Statement

Jane Whitmore, Psy.D

Truth in an Age of Fiction: Chaco Versus Fracking

UNESCO tells the truth. Chaco Canyon is a unique cultural phenomenon of 'Outstanding Universal Value' deserving the designation, 'World Heritage Site.' It is as important to world history as The Great Wall of China, Manchu Picchu and Stonehenge.

Located in the San Juan Basin of northwestern New Mexico, the Chacoan civilization reached its height between A. D. 850 and A.D. 1250.

Exquisite masonry, architectural and engineering expertise, distinctive features such as corner windows and T-shaped doors, subterranean ceremonial kivas and plazas define the Chacoan tradition. The ancient Chacoan people were the ancestors of the Contemporary Pueblo People who live along the Rio Grande and in detached villages across New Mexico today.

This link between past and present, between outstanding archeological remains and living peoples is unique. No where else in the United States has so large an indigenous population retained its ethnic identity mostly intact for so many years.

Chaco Canyon is only the center of a culture that reached far outside the canyon itself. More than 400 miles of wide roads aligned to the North star radiate out from the canyon connecting hundreds of outlying sites and communities.

We do not know what still lies hidden under tumbled stone hillocks and mounds.Yet, in this age of fiction, the potential impact on the remains of the Chacoan Culture is minimized, while the pursuit of economic gain is maximized. Developers claim oil and gas beneath the surface must be rapidly extracted by means as drastic as fracking.

The drill rig whines as the bit cracks through mancos shale and rivets it apart. Dirt rises from the roadways as oil trucks race by. Pipelines penetrate land that contains irreplaceable cultural resources. 'Frack off Chaco,' the people say. Stop the desecration of sacred lands. Stop the disrespect for spiritual sites and stop the disregard of our cultural heritage,a heritage to which we all belong.