Saturday, May 23, 2009

Jim Crow

This is an American History Simulation activity geared for the fifth grade classroom to supplement the textbook and curriculum requirements.

Segregation in the post-reconstruction South is the topic and the student objective is to be able to define segregation and tell what Jim Crow laws did.

Materials needed will be an activity sheet with plenty of problems so that each student will have a different problem to solve. Designed so that the page with the individual problems along with a variety of difficulty levels, but still easy to correct. Make it so that the activities can be cut out and passed out to each student. For example I have used a math activity sheet composed of division problems ranging from simple division to division of large numbers with fraction or decimal remainders. Problems or activities need to be simple enough for the students to respond to in about ten minutes.

This activity provides an anticipatory set for a lesson on the onset of segregation laws in the southern United States after Reconstruction. A few minutes before leaving for recess or lunch (before the Social Studies lesson on segregation) give each student a problem to solve. Explain to the students that a new regimen will be starting for excusing them from class today. Either randomly or purposly give the most difficult problems to select groups of students (e.g. those with glasses, blond hair, blue jeans, ect.) Do NOT delineate by race or ethnicity. Tell the students that in order to go to recess or lunch, each must complete his/her problem. Some students stuck with the hardest problems will undoubtedly be a little late. Accept a reasonable effort, especially if the student has a limited ability with the problem. The objective is to delay for recess or lunch certain students (i.e. the ones with glasses or blue jeans etc.) who have the most difficult problems to solve. Do not delay for more than five minutes and the activity should not involve missing lunch or recess entirely.

Be ready for a lively discussion after the class returns from lunch or recess. Discuss with them your "new procedure to release students". Elicit from them how they feel by asking them if this new procedure is or is not fair and why or why not?

Lead into the segregation lesson by informing the students that at some point in this nation's history, very difficult questions were used to determine if someone could vote. In fact....the most outrageously complicated questions
were saved for one group of citizens to purposely, but legally keep them from voting.


By 1900, most states in the southern US had been able to bypass the fifteenth amendment that guaranteed the African Americans' right to vote by incorporating a collection of legal devices designed to limit that vote. Named for an early 18th Century white actor who wore black make up for a variety of guises in a minstrel show, they were coined as the Jim Crow Laws The two most prevalent ways of denying African Americans the vote were poll taxes and literacy tests. While literacy tests were required for all, they were stringently enforced against the African American as they would have to read and explain complicated constitutional clauses and law. Through the Jim Crow laws hand in hand with Plessy v. Ferguson segregation pervaded not only the ballot but also how justice was doled out in court, seats on trains, water fountains, etc. You may recognize this activity as a spin-off from the Blue Eye / Brown Eye experiment. If simulations in this context have not been used regularly throughout the year, the Jim Crow lesson does illustrate prejudice very dramaticaly to the class.


American History Simulations written by Max W. Fischer, 1993, Teacher Created Materials

The Tyger

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?

In what distant deeps or skies,
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare sieze the fire?

And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?

What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp?

When the stars threw down their spears,
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?

Tyger Tyger burning bright
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry

William Blake

The Tyger is probably the most anthologized poem of William Blake (1757-1827). It's from his Songs of Experience (1794), and even though his writing is difficult to explain, it's understandable that as a graphic artist who aspired to convey very complex ideas that he would apply; takes the written word to his engravures to get his point across. Most of his contemporaries considered his work a joke, however in spite of how crazy he was his universe remained consistent and complex. When the reader understands this cosmos, his work becomes more readable, even anticipating some modern thinking by a century.

The insistent rhythm almost memorizes itself as Blake makes the composition of verse seem a simple task. While many poets of his day used blank verse or self-contained pentameter couplets to convey ideas he took simple language suggested by his reading of Elizabethan and Restoration authors and modified to define his complex ideas. He contains them in six four-line stanzas, and used pairs of rhyming couplets to create a sense of rhythm and continuity. The notable exception occurs in lines 3 and 4 and 23 and 24, where "eye" is imperfectly paired, ironically enough, with "symmetry."The majority of lines in this lyric contain exactly seven syllables, alternating between stressed and unstressed syllables; pattern has sometimes been identified as trochaic tetrameter.

The clever trick here is that he has taken this musical force of versification with the intention of defying any sense of interpretation. First the reader must be aware of the ideas behind Blake's Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience :

  1. Good and evil are not opposites but rather different aspects of the nature of God;
  2. Good and evil are different and do matter in the natural (as opposed to spiritual) world, especially in the way that men react with God's creation.

With that discovery the reader can see that it is the first idea that Blake is expressing in The Tyger, one of the natural symmetry in life. The Tyger is neither good nor evil, just the two ideas put together in a powerful and beautiful image where one spotlights an exposition, that one cannot resonate without the other. Goodness would not be visible if it were not for evil and vice versa; the simplicity and symmetry ingenuously echoed by the framing of his written words becomes a clear picture of the engraver employing his poetical hand. The Tyger has long been recognized as one of Blake's finest poems and more than one scholar has attempted to explain it. Here are a few exapmples:

  • (It)..."happens to have been quoted often enough ... to have made its strange old Hebrew-like grandeur, its Oriental latitude yet force of eloquence, comparatively familiar"

    Alexander Gilchrist, Life of William Blake (1863)

  • "The Tyger," frequently contrasting it with the language, images, and questions of origin presented by its "innocent" counterpart, "The Lamb." (It) satirizes the lyrics found in "The Lamb" that is not the poem's primary function. It is the combination of tones of terror with awe for a being that can create the tiger as well as the lamb, the poet "celebrates the divinity and beauty of the creation and its transcendence of human good and evil without relinquishing the Keatsian awareness that 'the miseries of the world Are misery.'"

    E. D. Hirsch, Jr, Innocence and Experience: An Introduction to Blake

  • ......the poem demonstrates that "creation in art is for Blake the renewal of visionary truth" ... that while the tiger may be terrifying, it presents an intensity of vision that should be welcomed with " a gaiety which can find a place in the divine plan for both the tears and spears of the stars, ... and for both the tiger and the lamb."

    Hazard Adams, William Blake: A Reading of the Shorter Poems , (1963).

  • "While 'The Tyger' can be read in a variety of ways, the juxtaposition of lamb and tiger points not merely to the opposition of innocence and experience, but to the resolution of the paradox they present." As the lamb is subjected to the travails of the world, "innocence is converted to experience. It does not rest there. Energy can be curbed but it cannot be destroyed, and when it reaches the limits of its endurance, it bursts forth in revolutionary wrath."

    Mark Schorer, William Blake: The Politics of Vision .

  • "As with so many of Blake's lyrics, part of the poem's strategy is to resist attempts to imprint meaning upon it. The Tyger tempts us to a cognitive apprehension but in the end exhausts our efforts." As a result, the critic concludes, "the extreme diversity of opinion among critics of Blake about the meaning of particular poems and passages of poems is perhaps the most eloquent testimony we have to the success of his work."

    Jerome J. McGann, Essay (1973).

It doesn't take much for the every day reader to understand this work from a certain point of view. At the its very heart lives the question humans reach for in struggles for enlightenment of God the benevolent creator of nature, Why is there horror, pain, and bloodshed? Blake refuses to that question for us. Here in lies his cleverness, by leaving it open it reflects back the all too human experience of not getting a completely satisfactory answer to this essential question of faith. Evil should not happen, and makes no sense, but there you go Spent|one would be blind to the goodness if evil was absent, yet when we see this happen

    the stars throw down their spears
    and water heaven with their tears.

Blake understands from his own cosmology that evil becomes sharply outlined and separable when the reader is left to decide whether the Tyger encompasses more...maybe it is not evil for a real tiger to eat a lamb, but is part-and-parcel of the world. It's no wonder that 100 years after his death he is considered among the greatest of English poets.


Blair, Bob

The Wondering Minstrels

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Comin Thro' the Rye

Comin' Thro the Rye

    O, JENNY'S a' weet, poor body,
    Jenny's seldom dry;
    She draigl't a' her petticoattie
    Comin thro' the rye.

    Comin thro the rye, poor body,
    Comin thro the rye,
    She draigl't a'her petticoatie,
    Comin thro the rye!

    Gin a body meet a body
    Comin thro the rye,
    Gin a body kiss a body,
    Need a body cry ?

    Gin a body meet a body
    Comin thro the glen,
    Gin a body kiss a body,
    Need the warld ken?

Robert Burns(1759-1796)

Words, extremely simple and melodious, words that seem to naturally fall into place are hallmarks of Robert Burns best poetry. In the published version which has been formatted here as it was printed you can see that it practically sings itself. In the published version of 1788 the poet leaves it to the reader to decide what Jenny was doing out in the field. The earlier and longer version that ninar writes about, and does a wonderful job defining what many of the words mean, made it clear she was doing just what Holden Caulfield might have thought she was. Burn's poem later became the climax and the inspiration for the title of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye a novel that can be read at any stage in life. What makes it classic literature is the plain fact that there's a bit of Holden in all of us. He steals away from his prep school and roams about New York City for several days trying to make sense of his world that is full of phonies and people who depress him. He is posed at the edge of entering adulthood. When I was young this novel spoke to me more than any other, today I am deeply impressed by Salinger's devastating re-creation of what it means to be young. The following excerpt is where Holden is speaking to his ten year old sister Phoebe about his thoughful reaction and insight to Burn's poem:

"You know that song 'If a body catch a body comin' through the rye'? I'd like -"
"If 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye!' old Phoebe said. It's a poem by Robert Burns."
"I know it's a poem by Robert Burns."
"She was right, though. It is 'If a body meet a body coming through the rye.' I didn't know it then, though."
"Anyway, I keep picturing all these kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody's around - nobody big, I mean - except me. And I'm standing at the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff
- I mean if they're running and they don't look where they're going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That's all I'd do all day. I'd just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it's crazy, but that's the only thing I'd really like to be. I know it's crazy."

On the street of New York a young boy has been repeating the poem and it's caught both Phoebe's and Holden's attention. Phoebe notes that the boy has mistaken the words, so that "If a body meet a body coming through the rye" becomes "If a body catch a body coming through the rye". Holden has an epiphany realizing he wants to be - the catcher in the rye. He imagines himself as the hero standing on the edge, catching kids coming through the rye and not seeing where they are going, from falling off of the cliff. By observing the young boy walking along the curb singing Comin Thro' the Rye and even though he's gotten the words wrong that's beside the point as far as Holden is concerned. The song for Holden has become symbolic imagery about where he is in his life, an image of a young boy on the curbstone of life plunging helplessly and irreversibly into adulthood. Once the reader can see that this is a coming of age story the rest of the book comes to light.

The Catcher in the Rye became an almost (because it was banned for a period of time) immediate success when it was first published in 1951 and has come to be regarded as one of this century's real classics.


A Catcher's Page

Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

Salinger, J.D. The Catcher in the Rye, Lb Books; Reissue edition (May 1991).

Picture Source

Tuesday, May 19, 2009


Arizona officially became a state in 1912, but before that three other flags flew over the territory: Spanish, Mexican, and Confederate. By the 1850s the Butterfield Stage Line was expanded to Tucson, bringing adventurers, a few settlers, and more than a smattering of outlaws. The arrival of the railroad in 1880 began another spurt of growth, as did the construction of the University of Arizona in 1891. Tucson expanded once more World War I and again during World War II with the opening of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base and the influx of local aeronautical industries. Today many transplants come from California and colder climes because of the lower housing costs, cleaner environment, and spectacular scenery.

Because of the myriad billboards and ubiquitous strip malls Speedway Boulevard in Tucson, Arizona was once dubbed the "ugliest street in America" by Life Magazine. Speedway Boulevard begins in desert. Or, depending on your outlook, it ends in mid air. On the westernmost edge is Gates Pass in the Tucson Mountains mostly comprised of extinct volcanoes where the Hohokam Indians first settled in the fertile farming area at in 100 AD. Driving east the road snakes through the sprawling city of plate glass high rises; and residential megadevelopments, drops to the valley floor, passes 200-year-old tin topped barrio style homes and the University of Arizona. It winds through a never ending conglomeration strip malls, apartment complexes and residential neighborhoods until, miles and miles later, it finds nearly open desert once again. Speedway Boulevard ends; like much of Southwestern history will eventually, in a golf course.

Speedway's history began about a century ago, one can almost create a time line originating in 1903 from the foothills of the Rincon Mountains to Gates Pass. A local physician H. W. Fenner first appeared on a dusty horizon in 1900 wheeze banging along in a 1900 Locomobile Steamer which wasn't much more that a tiny engine mounted on a buckboard wagon. With a cheerful tip the hat at astonished admirers, Dr. Fenner throughly enjoyed every bit of motoring through the dirt streets of downtown Tucson. By 1905, Fenner was the first in the Arizona Territory to get a driver's licence while other well to do Tucsonans had imported their own "horseless carriages" from back east. These drivers wanted a place to push their roadsters to the reckless limit of 15 miles per hour, while "Old Doc" Fenner, all of forty years old by now, was contented to chug along at a snail's pace. The local constables made it clear to the daredevil drivers that downtown was no place for them but paid little attention as they zipped along the many graded dirt roads leading away from the downtown area to points east and west. Soon one such road earned the honorary moniker of Speedway. Stone Avenue at the time was the north to south dividing line in downtown Tucson; three miles east the city limits ended at Country Club Avenue. Over the decades the geographic center has slowly crept ten miles east from Stone to Wilmont.

My arrival was several years after the 1970 issue of Life magazine called Speedway "the ugliest street in America." Though it was and is still talked about today. Their offering proof was a photograph of the then four lane road from the knoll just west of Alvernon Way to Country Club. Above the picture a headline proclaimed: "Look down, look down that loathsome road," the photograph was a sea of signs. Above it all loomed a billboard of a smiling woman. Taken with a telephoto lens, the photo of Speedway gave the appearance that it was all in a half mile's worth of strip mall, car lots and billboards. What was really in the picture was in the space of a mere block. Even though not long ago, the city council passed a no-cruising ordinance "cruising Speedway," still happens as many of the generation of southern Arizona's future elect to take their low riders, pickup trucks, muscle cars, and hotrod Hondas up and down the city's main drag, waiting for something, anything, to happen. It has for all intents and purposes become a right of passsage even a family tradition for many. Many dates took me cruising Speedway on a Saturday night after the movies. Sometimes it was after The Rocky Horror Picture Show show at The Loft to some country swing (Ack! no disco!) at the Bum Steer or the Wildcat House on Stone Avenue, to just hanging out till the sun peeked over the Rincons, with friends in the dirt lot behind the Bob's Big Boy on Speedway and Alvernon. That was when kids settled the score with a fair fist fight instead of gangs and guns, so it's understandable why there has been a crackdown on cruising. It was there I learned Presley had died over car radio of a fire-engine red Plymouth Duster. There are those who would say that Life magazine had a point, and I am one of them, treasonous though it may sound. With deregulation, bill boards sprang up everywhere as an affront to the desert. Much of what happens today along this avenue too, is a slap in the face of civilization: murders and robberies, ethnic hatreds and domestic violence.

Today driving down Speedway can be its own sweet form of torture. The city has made some improvements to the corridor recently by landscaping with a gallery of cortia, agave, fountaingrass, and other desert plants. I'm convinced it's the most frequently expanded street in America. Thanks to the amount of time I have wasted stuck on Speedway at yet another construction site, I can dutifully recite many of the restaurants worth visiting that are within fuming distance. That is to say it's amazing what you can discover. Abandon your car in traffic, wander off and find something to eat. It's not like traffic is going to get going again any time soon. Speedway Boulevard has become entrenched as a part the history of the Old Pueblo, and gazing down Speedway one can behold a century of it in the blink of an eye.

To Get There: Take Interstate 10 to Tucson and exit at Speedway Boulevard. Heading west will take you into the Tucson Mountains and Gates Pass where the road changes its name, but keep going to see the Saguaro National Park, the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum and Old Tucson Movie Studio. Eastward will take you though the downtown metropolis past the historical arts district all the way to the Rincon Mountains.


Picture Source

Tucson Overview:

The Cremation of Sam McGee

    "There are strange things done in the midnight sun
    By the men who moil for gold
    The Arctic trails have their secret tales
    That make your blood run cold;"

The opening words of the Robert Service poem, "The Cremation of Sam McGee," set the scene for this humorous ballad of death, cold, and Cap's dedication as he fulfills his promise to the dying miner Sam McGee. A real campfire story and one of my favorite poems I first read it when we lived on Eastern Upper Penninsula of Michigan at Kincheloe AFB near Sault Sainte Marie. Although there was daylight every day and we could see the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) it wasn't unusual for the sun to go down as early as three in the afternoon. The scenery was beautiful but the long, drawn-out winters were arduous. It was cold there and the poem resonated with the familiar experience of bitterly of cold weather and what it can do to a person.

Originally a bank teller, Robert Service's life changed when he found himself transferred to Whitehorse in the Yukon Territory. Like everybody else, Service was smitten by the gold rush. Only Service mined words, not gold, and within five years was famous as the poet who had captured the essence of the fever, the adventure, the men, and the women. Tall Tale at relates the local tale best:

    "Robert Service's classic poem is generally dismissed as pure fiction. However, a Sam McGee really did exist. He worked for a transport company in Whitehorse but the tale gets stranger still. The boiler of the Alice May, where the fictional Sam McGee was cremated, is based on a derelict steamer named Olive May. Service wrote the poem around a real experience relayed to him by a Dr. Sugden from Whitehorse (who Service lived with at one point). Dr Sugden was once sent out to tend to a sick prospector, but when he arrived at the cabin he found the man dead and frozen stiff. Sugden had no tools to bury the man, so he cremated him in the Olive May's boiler and brought the remains back to town."

Printed privately for his family and friends the composition date is not known; it was first published for the public in The Spell of the Yukon and Other Verses (New York: Barse & Hopkins, 1907): 50-54. (Also published as Songs of a Sourdough). The rhyme is in abcbdefe from or an heptameter which lends itself well to balladry; there's also a touch of cheerful bloodthirstiness about this melodrama.

Robert Service published this poem and its companion another rollicking ballad, The Shooting of Dan McGrew while he was working in the aforementioned bank. Service's first verse collections, Songs of a Sourdough (1907) and Ballads of a Cheechako (1909) were tales of hard-bitten prospectors and grim trappers were woven throughout improbable-but-true Yukon of humor and pathos, were an instant hit, and Service became famous. He published a number of subsequent volumes, but they never quite achieved the popularity that Sam and Dan brought him.

Mr.Service was often called 'The Kipling of the North' and his fans avidly read every line he ever wrote adoring his average-joe perspective, understanding of human nature, and his wry wit which shines through this bone-chilling story of a man named Sam McGee.

Work Robert Service published prior to 1922 is in the public domain in the United States.

More fun?

McGee, Samuel: consultation report from the marge of Lake Lebarge


The Cremation of Sam McGee

Public domain text taken from The Poets' Corner

Robert W. Service (1874-1958) The Cremation of Sam McGee

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument

I've never been to see the Sunset Crater but if I did go I would definitely want Volcano Girl to come along and please explain to me what is a squeeze up? Is that a humongous hug of some sort where the person pops out of their arms and explodes joyfully in the sky?

For some reason people will get Sunset Crater Volcano mixed up with the nearby Meteor Crater. At Sunset Crater Volcano you will see a cinder cone rising 1,000 feet above the surrounding landscape. Meteor Crater, is 35 miles east of Flagstaff on Interstate 40, is an impact crater measuring over 500 feet deep and 1 mile across.

Sunset Crater is a beautiful sight to behold. While eruption of Arizona's Sunset Crater is a fact. The legends of the nearby Hopi Indians are woven by storytellers even today. They call it "Earth Fire." Volcano Girl and I could be legendseekers, it would be glorious to watch the sun set in the chameleon sky from the rainshadow of the desert and hear one about this volcano and the wind god Yaponcha who long ago blew and blew.

The Hopis were greatly troubled by the wind... blew and blew and blew -- all the time. The Hopis planted their crops, but before the seeds could begin to sprout, the wind blew the soil and seeds away. Unhappy and worried, all the people made prayer offerings of many kinds.

    But they accomplished nothing.
    The old men held councils in their kivas. They smoked their pipes prayerfully and asked one another,
    "Why do the gods turn such strong winds upon us?"
    After a while, they decided to ask for help from the "Little Fellows" who were the two little War Gods, two of the five grandsons of Spider Woman.

    "Why did you ask us to come?", was their first question.

    "We need your help," answered the old men. "Something must be done to the Wind."

    "We will see what we can do for you," said the Little Fellows. "You stay here and make many more prayer offerings."

    The Hopis make many kinds of prayer offerings--as many as there are prayers, and there are prayers for every occasion in life and death. They are reverently fashioned of various types of feathers, carved and painted sticks,and hand-spun cotton yarn.

    The Little Fellows went first to their wise old grandmother, Spider Woman. They asked her to make some sweet cornmeal mush for them to take along on a journey. Of course they knew who the Wind God was and knew that he lived over near Sunset Mountain in the big crack of the black rock.

    When Spider Woman had the cornmeal mush ready, the Little Fellows came back to the kiva where the men were holding their council. The prayer offerings were ready and also the ball that the Little Fellows like to take with them wherever they went. They liked to play catch with it. The men made bows and arrows for them to take on their journey which seemed much like going on a war party. The arrows were tipped with bluebird feathers, thought to be more powerful than any other kinds of feathers.

    The two Little Fellows started toward the San Francisco Peaks. The old men went along until they reached the Little Colorado River, and there they sat down and smoked their pipes. The smoking of tobacco among the Hopis, as among many other tribes, is strictly ceremonial. The sacred smoke carried the prayers of the Hopis to their Gods. Continuing their journey, the two Little Fellows played catch- ball from time to time.

    On the fourth day they reached the home of the Wind God who lived at the foot of Sunset Crater, in a big crack in the black rock. There he breathed through the crack, as he does to this day.
    The Little Fellows threw the prayer offerings into the crack and hastily put their old grandmother's sticky cornmeal mush into and over the crack, and thus sealed the Wind God's door.
    Phew--he became very angry, so angry that he blew and blew and blew, but could not get out. The Little Fellows laughed and laughed and then went home, feeling very proud of themselves and of what they had done.

    But after a while, the people in the villages began to feel very hot. Everyday the weather became hotter and hotter. People came out of their homes and stood on housetops to look toward the San Francisco Peaks, to see if any clouds were coming their way. But they did not see even a wisp of a cloud, and they seemed not to feel a breath of air. They thought they would suffocate.

    "We must do something right away," everyone said or thought.
    So the men made some more prayer offerings and called the two Little Fellows again.
    "Please go back to the House of the Wind God at once and tell him that there must be peace between us. Then give him these prayer offerings and let him out. This heat is much worse than the wind."
    The Little Fellows replied,
    "We will go and see what we can do with the Wind God to make life more comfortable for you."

    After four days, they arrived at the House of Yaponcha--the House of the WindGod. The Little Fellows decided that the wisest thing to do would be to let the Wind God have a small hole open--just enough to let him breathe through, but not enough for him to come out of the crack in the black rock.
    So they took a little of the cornmeal mush out of the crack. Immediately, a nice cool breeze came out and a small white cloud appeared. It floated over across the desert toward the Hopi villages.

    When the Little Fellows reached home, everyone was pleased. The Hopis have been grateful to the Little Fellows ever since. The winds have been perfect--just strong enough to keep the people happy but not strong enough to blow everything away.

    Every since then, every year in the windy month of March, the chiefs and the high priests of the three villages on the Second Mesa give prayer offerings to the Wind God, Yaponcha.

For hundreds of years the wise peoples of this area survived and flourished by learning to adapt. They understood the natural cycle of the land and allowed sun, water, and earth to influence their culture which is preserved today for all to enjoy. While The Battle of Hastings was building in Europe, the Nahuatlaca, Aztecan tribes sailed the Colorado and San Juan. With their canoes they used the rivers as highways to transport faster relatively heavy loads in all directions, better than by land. Nine hundred years ago earthquakes shook the area for five years, then the crater began as ash and cinders, erupting from a fissure in the ground. No doubt the ancient peoples of this painted desert wilderness watched as the volcano erupted blanketing the area with black cinder. From the Colorado River they watched the heavy eruptions with its dark menacing clouds by day and the dark reddish sky by night. Ash from the volcano was picked up and carried on the winds, eventually covering 800 square miles of the Colorado Plateau. It was a frightening and impressive spectacle that continues to be told and retold through the traditions of storytellers many who say that it was Spider Woman who had something to do with creating this crater.

When it erupted columns as high as several hundred feet continued on and off for over a century and a half. Three fourths of Sunset Crater erupted in a violent explosion of scoria that formed the cinder cone. One fourth of the magma erupted as lava flows travelling from the base of the crater leaving several black rivers of hardened lava. Over half of the lava now forms the Bonito Lava Flow which erupted from the west and northwest base of the cone and covered an area of almost two square miles. The Kana-a lava flow erupted from the base of the east side of the cone and traveled down a wash for six miles. A nearly symmetrical cone made of dark gray scoria and scattered bombs. (Volcano Girl would protect me from those bombs I'm sure!) About 1,000 feet tall and 1 mile across at its base, it was a Strombolian eruption meaning it was the kind that is defined by 'volcanic jetting of clots or fountains of fluid basaltic lava from a central crater.' For perhaps 200 years more, Sunset Crater continued its eruptions. Today some sites say it is dormant while others call it extinct. The last eruptions spewed red oxidized iron and sulfur scoria around the summit, giving one of the youngest scoria cones in the mainland United States a permanent "sunset" effect as noted by John Wesley Powell:

    "...A portion of the cone is of bright reddish cinders, while the adjacent rocks are of black basalt. The contrast in the colors is so great that on viewing the mountain from a distance the red cinders seem to be on fire. From this circumstance, the cone has been named Sunset Peak . . . which seems to glow with a light of its own."
The primary crater at the summit is 400 feet in diameter and the topmost cap of oxidized, red spatter is what makes it look bathed in the light of the sunset. The red, pink, and yellow colors at the top of the cone are silica, gypsum, and iron oxide that formed from fumaroles. Nooo you don't serve fumaroles with sour cream and salsa but they can be hot! If you REALLY want to know what one is you can look it up in Volcano Girls handy dandy guide to volcanic and geologic terms glossary.

About 10,000 B.E, the prehistoric paleo inhabitants of Arizona appeared then sometime around 2,000 B.C. Cochise Man began farming the area planting primitive corn fields. By 300 BC the Hohokam settled in the southern areas and during the Christain era the Anasaz came to the Four Corners area. Five hundred years later a collection of peoples called the Sinagua began farming near the San Francisco Peaks. By using tree rings found in the remains of buried Indian pit houses, archeologists have determined that it was in 1064 AD that Sunset Crater burst onto the scene becoming a part of the San Francisco Peaks . Here is a brief time line of the volcanos eruptive history:

    1064-1065 AD
      Eruptions reached surface through a 6.2 mile long dike that tapped a basalt source in the upper mantle.
      Initial eruptions probably formed a curtain of fire.
    1064-1065 AD continuing to 1090 or later:
      Black scoria tephra blankets region
      Initial construction of Sunset Crater cinder cone with black scoria.
    1064-1065 AD
      Kana-a flow begins.
      East flank of Sunset Crater collapses onto Kana-a flow.
    1100 AD
      Probable time of 512 flow and Gyp Crater eruptions.
      Construction of Sunset Crater cinder cone renewed or continued. Deposition of agglutinate layers.
      Tephra deposited on top of Kana-a flow and vent 512 flow. 1180 AD
      Bonito lava flow begins.
      Scoria deposited on flow units coincident with Bonito flow.
      West flank of Sunset Crater cinder cone rafts away agglutinate layers.
      Construction of Sunset Crater cinder cone renewed or continued. Deposition of unconsolidated black scoria layers.
      Tephra deposited on top of Kana-a and Bonito flows. Deposition of red scoria on Sunset Crater cinder cone summit, cementation of crater rim scoria by vapor-phase minerals.
      Bonito and Kana-a flows extruded.
      Eruption of black lapilli and bombs result in minor collapse of the east rim of the crater and formation of the small crater on the east side of the summit.
      No, or minor deposition of tephra beyond the cone margin.
      Eruption of rows of small red scoria cones on top of the black scoria tephra blanket east-southeast of Sunset Crater was after or coincident the above.
The next group of people to appear in the area were the Spanish Missionaries who named the mountain range there The San Francisco Peaks after St. Francis the patron saint of ecology. However, long before the Spanish explorers arrived the peaks were the "center of Hopi cosmology" and the Navajos named them as the "House of the Evening Light" using them as one of the four cardinal points of the Navajo universe Before the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano, natives of the region lived in mud covered pithouses and farmed the open meadows.The people moved away for several years and then returned during a wet period to farm the ash rich soil. There are about thirty cinder cones in the area and by far the most puzzling question that remains unanswered is why did these people vanish. Rainfall, springs, and intermittent streams provided a precious source of drinking water. Beans, corn and squash were planted along the washes and placed on terraced slopes to take advantage of rain runoff. Check dams also helped ensure crop success. Today the pueblos and houses of these people, once filled with the work of adults and the laughter of children, now stand in silent testimony to civilizations past, filled only with the sound of the wind. The lives of the Sinagua people of northern Arizona, who built the masonry dwellings of Wupatki, were profoundly influenced by the eruption of Sunset Crater Volcano. It seems as though they foretold the impending eruption and relocated to settlements in Wupatki, Walnut Canyon, and the Verde Valley.

Those who moved to Walnut Canyon took advantage of the desert heat by building lodgings in the cliffs that faced to the south and east needing only three walls. Each room is made of Kaibab Limestone the forth being a natural ledge and impregnable fortress. Archaeologists think they probably learned to build these prehistoric condos from the Anasazi, who had been living in the Wupatki basin for years. After visiting the ruins in the early 1900s, novelist Willa Cather wrote:

    "All the houses in the canyon were clean with the cleanliness of sun-baked, wind-swept places, and they all smelled of the tough little cedars that twisted themselves into the very doorways."
Looters and cattle allowed to range freely among the ruins have taken their toll over the years. A campaign by Father Cyprian Vabre established Walnut Canyon as a national monument in 1915. From the visitor center you can hiking up a one mile steep loop and visit 25 of these rooms averaging about eighty square feet each.

Beginning around 1120 and 1195 AD a towering stone village called Wupatki, meaning "tall house" appeared. The people built their homes on an island of red Moenkopi sandstone that lays in a wash exposed by years of erosion. Cutting them into large slabs they arranged them in orderly stacks, reinforcing them with mud mortar, creating beautifully built pueblos. At its peak the community consisted of more than 100 rooms. During the 1800's the ruins were used by sheepherders as a camp and later looters invaded causing further destruction in the area. By 1924 a group of concerned people got together and petitioned the federal government to designate the area as a national monument. Today these sacred places of the modern Pueblo culture are a part of the National Park System. Various Hopi clans are traced back to these sites. As a source of cultural identity that provides a bond with ancestors. Vandalism and theft of artifacts weaken these ties, when you vist their home remember you are a guest, please leave everything in its place.

The Hopi call their ancestors Hisatsinom, meaning "People of the past." More often you may hear the people of the area called Sinagua derived from Spanish language; sin meaning without, and agua or water.

    The Sinagua people, living in their pithouses, quickly moved out of the area as Sunset Crater began its eruptions. Once the volcano began to quiet again, the Sinagua and Kayenta Anasazi returned and built new homes and pueblos to the northeast of Sunset Crater, in the Wupatki area. The ash from the volcano may have made farming in the area slightly better by using the dry ash as a mulch. (They discovered they could preserve the scarce moisture longer by adding it to the native soil). A slight change in climate may have made water more plentiful as well.

    The Anasazi, Sinagua, and other cultures had long been trading among each other, and in coming together, these neighbors shared even more of their farming, construction and pottery making methods. The cultural mosaic in the Wupatki basin grew and flourished for well over 125 years.

    By A.D. 1225, however, most of the people were gone. Was it the extensive drought that began about A.D. 1215 that drove them away? Did poor soil conservation eventually lead to loss of topsoil and worsening crop yields each year? Or perhaps social unrest of disease disbanded the many pueblos here. For whatever reason, the residents eventually abandoned their homes in the Wupatki area.

For seven hundred years these people roamed the desert domain in search of reliable food and water; of building mud huts, cliff dwellings and stone pueblos. Today scientist speculate that it may have been a great drought that occurred between 1276-1299 A.D. that drove these people to extinction. Many, they think, were absorbed into the Hopi trading their identity for a sustainable future.

Volcano Gurrrl do you think we could take the fire look out road up to O'Leary Peak? And then go back down to the base of the crater to another trail of more fascinating volcanic features like squeeze-ups, hornitos, fumaroles and clinkers? I can't wait! Did you know that in the 1920s, a man by the name of H.S. Colton saved the cone from severe damage by stopping a Hollywood movie company from blowing it up in order to simulate an eruption? This led to the establishment of the Sunset Crater National Monument which was later designated Sunset Crater National Monument on May 26, 1930. It became Sunset Crater Volcano National Monument in 1990.

We could be gurls on the moon! A few miles westward of the crater is the Bonito Lava Flow. If you've never been to the moon, this is what it looks like. As a matter of fact, it looks so much like a lunar landscape, Apollo astronauts from NASA, including Neil Armstrong trained there in the 1960s? In 1969 many scenes from the movie Easy Rider with Peter Fonda and Jack Nicholson was filmed there too! First we might want to stop and take in a program given by park rangers. Then put on our hiking boots and hike the Lava Flow Trail. Then at the Lenox Crater Trail we could experience climbing a REAL cinder cone. Be careful climbing on lava flows they can be sharp, brittle, and unstable. I heard hiking the Lenex Crater cinder cone takes 45 minutes altogether, ohhhh about thirty minutes to climb up then another fifteen minutes to hurtle down!

No back country camping is allowed and hiking on the volcano cinder cone itself hasn't been allowed since 1973. But we could stay at the Bonito Campground across from the visitor center Super Girl! It's open from late May through the middle of October. There are 43 sites first come first serve and only costs 10 dollars a night. We can watch the stars come out at night to play, what a deal!

Walnut Canyon, Wupatki and Sunset Crater Volcano National Monuments combined receives about 500,000 visitors per year. Be prepared for the Wind God though! Spring is usually mild, but heavy snowfall can occur. Summer days are warm with temperatures in the 80s. Afternoon monsoons are frequent from July to September. In winter, snow and freezing temperatures alternate with mild weather. Poisonous snakes and insects are common, they won't bother you if you don't bother them so keep a safe distance. This is their home and they are protected by Spider Woman, St. Francis and Volcano Girl, not to metion Park Rangers!

To get there: The country that surrounds Flagstaff, Arizona is one of the most beautiful and fascinating in the Southwest. Within an eighty miles road trip there is everything from lush, green forests to the rugged, colorful desert. From Flagstaff, take U.S. 89 north for 12 miles, turn right on the Sunset Crater - Wupatki Loop Road and continue 2 miles further to the Visitor Center. The entrance fee is $3.00 per person and includes both Wupatki and Sunset Crater Volcano. Open year round except Christmas from 9:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m. Don't forget Arizona is on Mountain Standard Time year round.

for ailie 'cause I lava her:)


Great escapes:Northern Arizona

Native American Lore

Sunset Crater, Arizona

Sunset Crater Volcano

Teacher's Resource Guide

Wupatki and Sunset Crater National Monuments

Read more at U.S. National Parks and Monuments!

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