David Kelly, 'Deep into the world of the ancient Anasazi', LA Times, February 14, 2014.
At Cedar Mesa in Utah, just south of Blanding, is "a place where American history stretches deep into antiquity". The Anasazi (Navajo for "Ancient Ones,") were a mysterious people who occupied these harsh lands from the 12th century BC until vanishing 700 years ago. Their presence is everywhere, in the abandoned villages, kivas and cliff dwellings. The ground everywhere is strewn with relics to be admired. Some however want to disturb them or take them away. Cedar Mesa is a 70-mile-long plateau that's home to one the largest collections of pre-Columbian ruins in the country.
"Cedar Mesa is a world-class place for archaeology," said Vaughn Hadenfeldt, a guide who runs Far Out Expeditions in the town of 250. "There are a great deal of sites that have never been recorded — thousands in fact." But like many here, he was conflicted about what to reveal. Cedar Mesa, overseen by the Bureau of Land Management, has been plundered for generations. Despite arrests, looting continues. "When you go to the Smithsonian, you don't smash the glass and take what you want," Hadenfeldt said. "It's the same here. Treat it like an outdoor museum."The text describes wandering around an untouched site, visitin petroglyphs and an intact kiva, but also a visit to "Huck's Trading Post" in Blanding, the so-clled Anasazi Museum run by Hugh "Huck" Acton:
He rolled into a dark room and began flicking switches. Case after case after case lighted up, revealing thousands of relics. There were cradleboards, mugs that rattled, dolls made by Anasazi with human hair and a ladle with a tiny kachina painted on it. One wall held 462 stone axes, another sandals made of yucca fiber.Huck, a former plumber, had reassembled hundreds of pots and bowls from fragments, using leftovers to create a giant map of the U.S."When I was young, I'd go into the ruins and find stuff no one had ever seen," he said. "People took things out of those canyons by the truckload."As my eyes widened, Acton quickly explained that he'd collected everything on private land where it's legal. Other relics were donated.He also describes a visit to an intact kiva at Slickhorn Canyon
I emerged from the kiva into a light so bright that it staggered me. Ducking into an alcove, I found a potsherd with painted diamonds. I admit I wanted it but then recalled something that Hadenfeldt from Far Out Expeditions had told me. "These are places where people lived and died and left the remnants of their lives behind," he said. "Think how wonderful it would be if your grandchildren could come here some day and find everything as it was." I left the relic and walked away. And for the first time in days, I walked alone.