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.


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