On March 3, 1923, President Warren G. Harding wielded the Antiquities Act to designate Hovenweep National Monument in southeastern Utah. The designation put a few hundred acres and a handful of Puebloan towers and other cultural sites under the auspices of the National Park Service, and was mainly aimed at protecting the sites from further looting and vandalism.
"Few of the mounds have escaped the hands of the destroyer,” T. Mitchell Pruden wrote of Hovenweep’s cultural sites in 1903. “Cattlemen, ranchmen, rural picnickers, and professional collectors have turned the ground well over and have taken out much pottery, breaking more, and strewing the ground with many crumbling bones.”
The protections that come with a national monument arrived a little late and covered far too little ground and too few sites. Still, we can be thankful that some of the most prominent structures were kept from further destruction. But regardless of the national monument status, or which federal agency manages it, Hovenweep is a special place — one of my favorites. No one describes it better than the late scholar, potter, architect, and activist Rina Swentzell, Tewa, of Santa Clara Pueblo:
I think that Hovenweep is the most symbolic of places in the Southwest…Hovenweep give me a feeling similar to what I feel when I’m participating in ceremonies which require a tacit recognition of realities other than the blatantly visual. During those times I know the nature and energy of the bear, of rock, of the clouds, of the water. I become aware of energies outside myself, outside the human context. At Hovenweep, I slide into a place and begin to know the flowing, warm sandstone under my feet, the cool preciousness of the water, the void of the canyon, and the all covering sky. I want to be a part of the place.
— Rina Swentzell, Tewa architect, potter and scholar, Santa Clara Pueblo.
When I lived in Cortez visiting Hovenweep was one of my most favorite things to do. Most of the time I went alone and hiked between towers. Though ancient, it has a very strong quality of being alive. Thanks for the beautiful images.
Beautiful photos of Hovenweep