This is the story of an event that happened to me in the mid 90’s while I was living in San Francisco and working my last days in the computer industry.  It starts one morning as I awakened in our caravan on our homestead in Northern Victoria [Australia] located just south of Omeo nearer to Swifts Creek.  As I awakened, there came to mind the word Tuzigoot.  Yes, Tuzigoot.  I felt a strong need to go there.  I faintly remembered seeing the name and thought perhaps it was in Arizona.  Thankfully, I had an old American road atlas and was soon able to find it just west of Cottonwood along theVerde River.  I saw that it was a National Monument.  Not having access to the internet at the time, I just digested the feeling and filed it away.


Part of the two years I worked in San Francisco, I was a contract instructor teaching both Microsoft and Novell local area networking.  I was not able to line up work every week so the first summer I decided to fill a vacant work week with a trip to Cottonwood where I could visit Tuzigoot.  I flew in and out of Phoenix and rented a car for the trip north.  Arriving around 5:30PM, I decided to have a quick look realizing that the visitors center would be closed.  As I made my way via the signposts across the narrowVerde river, I was shocked to find what to me looked like a failed irrigation project.  There were huge areas lacking vegetation of any kind.  I had a quick look around, checked the opening time and saved ideas for exploration till the following morning.  The next morning was bright and sunny as I left the restaurant where I enjoyed my favorite breakfast of eggs and hash browns and headed back to the site.  I was waiting at the door at opening time and had a chance to speak to the ranger at the desk.  I asked him what the devil had happened to the river bottom down the road.  He asked me if I had been to Jerome.  “No”, I said.

Then he told me the story of the copper mining activities in Jerome and the ore processing plant a couple of miles west of the site at Clarkdale.  To tell a long story quickly, extracting silver or copper ore veins from surrounding rock and quartz requires the crushing and mixing with various acids and noxious washes.  The residue was originally dumped into theVerde Riverthrough metal pipes until they corroded.  Then they were replaced by redwood troughs.  Even though Phelps Dodge closed the Clarkdale smelter in 1950, the river as it runs alongside the monument looks like a moonscape. I was told that there would be another ranger that would lead a tour at 10AM.

I thanked him for the information and headed out to have a look around.  Reading various information signs I learned that the site was a pueblo ruin built by the Sinagua [without water] people who lived there from around 1000 till about 1300.  The actual name Tuzigoot is an Apache translation meaning crooked water.  I soon found myself entering a large restored living area and was leaning over a wall when I was overcome with grief.  The intense feeling almost doubled me over as I gushed tears and was choked with emotion.  I was embarrassed and hoped no-one would come up behind me.  After recovering somewhat, I was overwhelmed yet again, less intense this time.  This had never happened to me before and I just couldn’t figure out what and why.  As I continued around the site, I read that the Sinagua buried their dead underground in their living areas.

At ten o’clock, along with a few other people, I met the second ranger who if I rightly remember was a Mescalero Apache.  The US government came up with the name Mescalero, probably because the mescal plant was a staple of their diet.  Although there were several Mexican names for several bands or tribes of Apaches in the Southwest, in 1873 the US Government recognized only three- the Mescalero Apache, the Chiricahua Apache, and the Lipan Apache.  These tribes had settled from Southeastern and middle Arizona, through New Mexico and with the Lipans, into western Texas in the beautiful area around and south ofAustin. Evidently they came into the Southwest later than the Puebloan cultures from parts [northern] unknown. I enjoyed the tour and was able to join a small group and learn more from him about the tragedy along the Verde River.


Over the next several days I tried to piece together the significance of my strange and highly emotional response to Tuzigoot.  It came to me that I was picking up the sadness from the spirit of these people as they mourned the destruction of their lovely crop growing area.  This site is about all that remains of around 50 such Sinaguan living sites.

The experience left me with the belief that we need desperately to protect and preserve these sacred sites that were loved and cared for by these early peoples because there is here to be found a spiritual record of the love of Gaia that can help us re-establish a loving relationship with the Earth.