Emery’s Peridot Mine

Emery is full Apache. He lives on the San Carlos reservation, and has a peridot mine.

The San Carlos reservation is home to the largest peridot deposit on earth. Dig just a few feet into the earth and you will strike a vein.

Peridot is a semi-precious stone. It id not native to this planet, but is residual from meteorite strikes.

All property on the rez is owned by the tribe. There is no real private property. You can own your house or trailer, just not the land underneath. Emery had to approach the tribal elders to be approved to stake his claim on his mine. At any time, the elders can revoke his privilege.

Emery mines the peridot, which is a frangible stone. While not rare, larger stones are infrequent.

Peridot is vivid green. The mining is done with sledges and picks. Hard work. The choice stones are then sold to gemstone merchants who then cut the stones. Emery buys the cut stones back, and his wife and daughters create jewelry that they sell.

It was an honor to be invited to his mine. The last white eyes he invited were NASA scientists seeking information on the San Carlos peridot. It is very difficult to be allowed to roam uninvited on the Rez if you are not Apache.

Looking north on the San Carlos rez, you can see the southern border of the White Mountain Apache tribe.

Emery’s hair is short in these photos. He suffered a loss in his family, and in Apache tradition had his hair shorn. Otherwise, the traditional Apache men do not cut their hair.

Emery insisted we take any rocks we wanted as souvenirs. I picked up a few small specimens. I think he may have been insulted, because he gave me several very large rocks when we left.

Of all of the great places to visit in Arizona, most of them open to the public, I have had the pleasure to see first hand the places that are not open to tourists. And I have people such as Emery to thank for that.


a concept

God is a concept
By which we measure
Our pain
I’ll say it again
God is a concept
By which we measure
Our pain
I don’t believe in magic
I don’t believe in I-Ching
I don’t believe in Bible
I don’t believe in tarot
I don’t believe in Hitler
I don’t believe in Jesus
I don’t believe in Kennedy
I don’t believe in Buddha
I don’t believe in mantra
I don’t believe in Gita
I don’t believe in yoga
I don’t believe in kings
I don’t believe in Elvis
I don’t believe in Zimmerman
I don’t believe in Beatles
I just believe in me

Sacred Apache Sunrise Ceremony

The White Painted Woman
The White Painted Woman

I was fortunate to be invited to a sacred Apache ritual by the godfather of the girl who was to become a woman.

The Apache Sunrise Ceremony is a four-day arduous ceremony that Apache girls participate in after their first menstruation.

We were allowed to participate on the fourth day. The ceremony commences at sunrise, and consists of sacred dance. Four hours of dancing, and my body was sore all over. I can only have admiration for the girl, she danced for four days. Continue reading “Sacred Apache Sunrise Ceremony”

Petroglyph Hike

One of the great things about living in the shadow of the Superstition Mountains is the presence of hundreds of miles of hiking trails.

The Superstitions are considered some of the most arduous in North America. With summer temperatures hovering well over 110°F (43°C) and monsoon rains causing flash floods with little to no warning, many people die every year on the trails.

The Apache believe the Superstitions are holy, and that one needs to be purified before entering the wilderness.

One of the easier hikes is called the improperly named the Hieroglyphic Trail. Accessed off of King’s Ranch Road, the trail is not as strenuous as many. Not much shade, the 1.5 mile hike is a bit rocky and had a steady incline. Continue reading “Petroglyph Hike”

Home sweet home

I love Arizona.

Arizona is the 48th state in the union, the last of the contiguous states to be admitted. We became a state in 1912.

One of the reasons we were last is that Arizona was the first state to give women the right to vote. When we applied to become a state, the other states demanded that we revoke the women’s right to vote. The state legislature did just that, and we were allowed into the union.

That very same year, Arizona then approved womens’ suffrage and joined 8 other states – beating the 19th amendment by 8 years.

The climate is unforgiving here in the Sonoran desert. The plants, the animals, and the climate all bite back. We don’t take a trip to the grocery store without a bottle of water.  Rattlesnakes are a challenge while hiking. Monsoon brings flash floods, and dust storms look like something out of a science fiction movie.

So why do I like it here? Independence, maybe. Our saguaro cactus live only here. We have coyotes, javelina, mountain lions, bobcats, bear and other wildlife.

We are still a part of the wild west. We carry guns openly, and people don’t look twice. We target shoot in the desert, camp, fish and kayak. All the things that I grew up with back east as a kid and young adult. This is one of the last places we can still practice those skills.


Wild Horses couldn’t drag me away

Wild horses on the Salt River. Not the best photo, but my cellphone is wrapped tight in waterproof case when we go kayaking.

You don’t think of rivers when you think of the desert, but the Salt River flows through the Sonoran Desert in Arizona.

These horses date back centuries, and are protected. They are not afraid of humans, and will walk by as we kayak.

The Salt River provides hydroelectric power to the valley.