Monday, April 19, 2010

Painted Bridges - K'uuyemugeh Overcrossing

The next overcrossing has 'K'uuyemugeh'  painted on its exterior steel girders. It translates as "(I am told) the place of the falling rock" in the Tewa language spoken by the Pojoaque Pueblo people (and others).

Deer with their heartlines are on the abutment wingwalls. Corn Maidens and other images common to the pueblos of the region are shown. Perhaps these images tell one of the sad stories about Corn Maiden, which are told from Canada south to the West Indies.

As I mentioned, this painted bridge is part of a program begun by the New Mexico Department of Transportation (NMDOT) to give recognition to the Native American people. The Google Earth Map below shows the location of the thirteen mile stretch of Highway 285/84 where many of the highway structures have been decorated with images from the native culture. There's nothing very interesting about these structures but by using them as a canvas they give voice to the state's indigenous people.

This area was home to the Anasazi people who moved here about 10,000 years ago. Their descendants may continue to live in the area although it is commonly thought that they left thousands of years ago. There's a beautiful book by Tony Hillerman (The Great Taos Bank Robbery) about the various cultures and peoples who moved into New Mexico and created the unique culture that is contemporary New Mexico.

The region is between the Painted Desert, the Chihuahuan Desert, and Sonoran Desert. It is part of the Rio Grande River Basin, which is slightly smaller than the adjacent Colorado River Basin. We'll look at one more bridge decorated by the Pueblo people tomorrow.
Creative Commons License
Painted Bridges - K'uuyemugeh Overcrossing by Mark Yashinsky is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

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