A lone ponderosa pine took root in the Jemez Mountains, New Mexico in 1664. This tree lived to be 307 years old, 1664-1971. A slice of this tree can be seen as an exhibit at the newly opened Verde Valley Archaeology Center in Camp Verde, Arizona. This ponderosa tree stood sentinel over the Pueblo World and marked in tree time, a world forever changing.
Dendrochronology has been very useful in radiocarbon dating wood found in ancestral places throughout the Southwest and plotting of major natural events. It is now known that the wood beams found at Chaco Canyon came from the Jemez Mountains. Trees evolved around 380 million years ago and are described as the lungs of the world, breathing in carbon dioxide and breathing out oxygen on which life depends.
As I viewed this slice of wood I pondered the circumstance of Hopi life at the birth of this tree in 1664. In 1664, the Hopi people were firmly under the yoke of Spanish dictatorship. However, this period of difficult times was soon to change when 20 years later in 1680, the Pueblo Revolt took place and Spanish rule ended in the Hopi World.
As I moved down the concentric circles of tree time by counting the rings, in the late 1700s, the Hopi villages started seeing a stranger nearby. This foreigner was dressed in animal skins and carried a bow and arrow. He spoke a different language. More and more came, especially at Harvest Time to raid and pillage. These were the Athabascans from the North.
By the concentric circle dated 1800, the Hopi World had been visited and colonized by the Anglo races as trappers, missionaries, refugees of religious persecution, traders, military garrisons and finally the ubiquitous Federal Agent representing the U. S. Government.
By the concentric circle dated 1900, the Hopi became known worldwide for the exotic Hopi Snake Ceremony that drew tourists, artists, photographers and the nosy anthropologists. By 1971, the last illustrated concentric circle, the Hopi Tribe was a federally recognized government consolidating most of the remaining 12 Hopi Villages. We are still Here.
If you see a lone ponderosa tree on the Jemez Mountains, think hard about the 307 year tree time of your culture and your peoples. It is a mind-bending exercise as a good museum exhibit intends. Visit the Verde Valley Archaeology Center and see the exhibit on meteorites!