The thwok of an atlatl thrown spear hitting its mark. The clink-clink of a flint-knapper crafting the perfect projectile point. The shrieks of delight as children play with handcrafted corn husk dolls. The smells of Navajo fry bread sizzling on a camp stove and fresh bread baking in a Zuni horno oven wafting over children gathered around a traditional potter from Acoma instructing them in centuries old pottery making techniques. El Morro National Monument brought the past to life at the recent Ancient Way Fall Festival.
The Festival is a traditional joint community effort sponsored by the Ramah Farmer’s Market, the El Morro Valley business community and El Morro National Monument. This event is an important function for community members and often attended by people driving several hours to be there. There’s no question that the function is an important locus for the region and serves as a powerful reminder of the role of national parks in creating community.
When the task of sponsoring the festival’s children’s activity fell to El Morro National Monument this year, they decided to do something exceptional. Spearheaded by Interpretive Ranger Wendy Gordge, the monument put on a full scale Archaeology Fair. Aimed at children, who were joined in discovery by nearly as many curious adults, participants were treated to atlatl throwing, flint knapping, animal tracking and mock excavation activities put on by professional archaeological educators, some of whom traveled great distances to participate in the fair. Participants could also take a tangible memory home with them in the form of split twig figures, pinch pots, corn husk dolls and petroglyph panels. Many attendees took part in every activity at this day long archaeology fair.
El Morro National Monument employees and volunteers worked tirelessly over the last few weeks to ensure that this year’s Fall Festival would be a day to remember. And no doubt it was for the many people whose eyes were opened to an ancient way of life.