"As the red dust of the pueblo square is rhythmically kicked by hundreds of Jemez Pueblo tribe members, I am transported back to a time of intense communal power. The men are painted in blue or orange, according to their family clans, and wear decorative shells and bells. The women wear traditional smocks and jewelry. Both men and women carry pine boughs. It seems as if all 3,000 tribe members are here in the long narrow square, stamping and singing, unified by the corn dance.
I am lucky enough to be here because of an fellowship from the Institute for Journalism and Natural Resources. The IJNR has awarded me a weeklong journey through New Mexico to “Energy Country.” Along with 15 other fellows, I am bombarded with information during my travels through this unique land. I have become a firsthand witness to the potential of renewable energy – seeing in its most modern forms at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, and now here, in an ancient setting.
“Jemez are experts at not changing,” said Greg Kaufman, an environmental scientist at Jemez Pueblo, about 50 miles northwest of Albuquerque. According to Kaufman, the Jemez are the most traditional tribe in New Mexico. Their remote, poor pueblo is only open to the public a few days out of the year, and they are the only speakers of Towa, an ancient Native American language.
They are also the only tribe to have proposed a commercial-scale solar plant on their land."
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