San Diego, CA
Quarai At Salinas Pueblos Mission Nm
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© Christine Till - CT-Graphics
Charles Lummis once referred to the 40-foot-tall hulking mass of red and gray rocks and bulging walls of the Quarai Mission Church in Salinas as "An edifice in ruins but so tall, so solemn, so dominant of that strange, lonely landscape On the Rhine it would be a superlative; in the wilderness of Manzano it is a miracle."
Forty-foot walls rest on foundation footers six feet wide and seven feet deep. The inside of the church is 100 feet long, the transept 50 feet wide and the nave 27 feet.
But as impressive as these ruins are, the real story is about the people, not the rocks; the clash of cultures and ideologies, all-out warfare and the fundamentals of survival in a hostile wilderness environment deemed harsh at best.
When the Franciscans arrived they put more than the usual strain on this community of 400 or so Tiwa-speakers. At the same time, raids by Apaches increased because any crop surplus no longer went to them in trade, but to the Spanish. And there were terrible famines between 1663 and 1670. No wonder that Quarai was abandoned even before the Pueblo Revolt of 1680.
April 11th, 2012
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