Lens on Mesa Verde National Park.

Photographs © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2012.
 Photographer Mike Kircher and I stand for a portrait at Mesa Verde National Park. 

NatGeo Puts Four Corners on the Map.

Photograph Jeremy Wade Shockley/The Southern Ute Drum



By Rachel Shockley
Special to the Drum
The Southern Ute Indian Tribe’s Cultural Dancers joined the National Geographic Society and partners from the Four Corners on Saturday, June 2 to invite tourists to experience the local history, culture and wilderness.
National Geographic has named the Four Corners area a “geotourism destination” and launched an interactive website and map to promote its many natural attractions. The launch of the Four Corners Region Geotourism MapGuide at Aztec Ruins National Monument in Aztec, N.M., drew dignitaries and visitors from all over to tour the ruins and enjoy cultural dancing with help from Ignacio-based drum group 12 Gauge.
Approximately 65 million “geotourists” from around the world are looking for experiential vacations where they can rub shoulders with the locals, according to National Geographic. The new map provides more than 800 suggestions, recommended by locals.
Geotourism MapGuides Coordinator Jim Dion said he hopes the map will answer the question: “What can people do here in this place that they can do no place else?”
“Travelers are risk averse,” he said. “By indexing sites and introducing people to these sites before they commit, we can inspire people to go to places they wouldn’t normally go.”
By attending local events, visiting local places and patronizing local businesses, geotourists will get a glimpse of what life is like here in the Four Corners — and National Geographic is betting they’re going to like it. The locals might, too: Statistically geotourists spend more money, stay longer, and care more about the culture and environment of the places they visit.
Members of the Southern Ute Royalty led the procession of Cultural Dancers during a grand entry exhibition at the ruins. Women, followed by the men, showcased several styles of dancing and regalia for the crowd. The Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum also manned a booth to answer questions and promote Ute culture and heritage.
Aztec Fiesta Days
The Cultural Dancers also performed at Minium Park for the annual Aztec Fiesta Days later that day. Crowds of locals and visitors cheered on the 18 dancers as they exhibited the beauty and athleticism of traditional Native American dance. They finished the events with a round dance, inviting spectators to experience a little Ute culture for themselves by joining in.
“I love dancing,” said Cultural Dancer and Southern Ute tribal member Greg Bison after the round dance. “It’s my tradition. I dance for my family and my people, and for people who aren’t able to dance.”
Regarding how many people he has taught to dance, he said simply, “I’ve lost count.”
Making of the map
The Four Corners Region Geotourism MapGuide is a culmination of two years of collaboration between tribes, governments, businesses and locals. All 800-plus sights were recommended by locals and reviewed by National Geographic Maps and the Four Corners Region Geotourism Stewardship Council.
Print maps can be purchased for $11.95 and show 100 of the total sites, broken into four categories: archeology; outdoor recreation; water and geology; and art, music, and culture. Captions and information on select sites make it easy to find events or places that are interesting to visit.
All the sites can be explored in detail online at http://www.fourcornersgeoturism.com. Here locals can also make recommendations to add to the map over time.
Places and events on the map include the Southern Ute Cultural Center & Museum, the Chimney Rock Archaeological Area, the Ute Mountain Roundup Rodeo, and Ute Mountain Tribal Park.

Shadow & Stone.

Photograph © Rachel Beckelhymer 2009.

Writer and Journalist, Rachel Beckelhymer has taken her hand at photography in recent months. One does find that the two are often so intertwined that it is almost a dance. Words and images in concert-tried and true.

While I faced the day from my desk at the newspaper, Rachel had an excellent opportunity to venture into the realm of Ancestral Puebloans with friends at her side. On this brisk winter’s day at Mesa Verde National Park, Rachel took one of my Nikons and made this beautiful, quiet image of a ranger silhouetted in the fading light.

You can sample some of Rachel’s writing on her WordPress blog right HERE.

Rachel explains, “Our ranger had a great knowledge and reverence for Native American culture and spirituality, and he was very charismatic. I wanted to capture his windswept cheeks and Smokey Bear hat, but I was too shy to ask him for a portrait and my ‘stolen’ photo attempts were not very good. I noticed his shadow, and having seen Jeremy successfully use shadow as his main subject before, I composed this shot. I was able to come away with a picture that was interesting and maybe more successful than the portrait I had initially intended.”

Do you find yourself approaching photographic subjects more figuratively or literally? More importantly how do you approach subjects you feel uncomfortable shooting?

Cheers, Jeremy

Canyon of the Ancients.






Photographs © Jeremy Wade Shockley 2009. All Rights Reserved.

Accessible only by boat, Defiance House is located in the Canyon of the Ancients, one of the many fingers of Lake Powell. The controversial reservoir, flooded many of the canyons and archaeological sites in and around Glen Canyon, Utah.

I had an opportunity to return to this Native American Cultural Site on a recent trip to Lake Powell, where I went to celebrate a close friend’s birthday and breath in the desert air. While the cliche image of Lake Powell involves board shorts and spring breakers, I have always made exploring the surrounding desert and endless canyons a priority.

Although a cool swim and a cold beer never hurt, Thanks for all the trips Nathan!

Photo Credit: Rachel Beckelhymer

The photographer’s work is done…