With gratitude and honor, we are aware that we occupy the ancestral land of the Hopi people, who understand themselves to have emerged into the current Fourth World from the Sipapu, or “place of origins,” which is about 25 miles south of Crestone, beneath the San Luis Lakes, just west of Mount Blanca. Blanca, known to the Navajo as Sisnaajini (Dawn or White Shell Mountain), is, for many indigenous peoples, the sacred mountain of the East, the place where, according to the Hopi, “light comes into the world” (Hopaqw Tukawi).
The San Luis Valley as a whole is considered to be the spiritual and geographical center of Turtle Island, which includes the whole of North and Central America. Many tribes came here for hunting and sacred solitude: Hopis, Navajos, Comanches, Apaches, Kiowa, and Lakotas. The Utes created settlements on the valley floor, though, prior to global warming, the fiercely cold winters meant that no indigenous peoples would live here year round. Young people were taken to ledges in the higher reaches of the 14,000 foot mountains above us to be tested in their vision quests. Shamans came to this land to partake of its power, and many people experienced spontaneous healing. It is believed that many spirit protectors continue to occupy these mountains to this day. Elders among the Kogi and Inca peoples of Columbia and Peru have long since traveled here as a place of pilgrimage.