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Stories of Time and Place
By Carol Paradise Decker

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The once great Pecos Pueblo has deteriorated to a series of rock and earthen humps on a narrow ridge in the Upper Pecos Valley in New Mexico. The nearby mission church is reduced to roofless red walls eroding among the foundations of its larger predecessor. Now that they are under the care of the National Park Service, visitors stroll the Ruins Trail awed by the remains and eager to know more of their story.

Who were the people who called this place home over the centuries? What were their lives like in times of calm and crisis? Where did the people go when the Pueblo was abandoned? And how can their descendents claim that “we are still here!”? These ten stories range through the centuries from stone age hunters of the distant past to the return of the ancestors in 1999. Linked by an ancient bone bead each describes a particular event from the perspective of a young girl and her family.

A transplanted New Englander, Carol Paradise Decker moved to Santa Fe in 1980 with a background in Spanish and intercultural relations. Soon she began teaching Conversational Spanish in various venues and exploring the history and heritage of New Mexico. As a tour guide she roamed all over the northern part of the state sharing with visitors what she was learning. For eight years she planned informal gatherings of many kinds: conversations with key elders, visits to homes and relevant organizations, field trips to farms and villages, work projects and more—bringing together Santa Fe Anglos, local Hispanics and Pueblo Indians through her Vecinos del Norte program. Later (1998–2003) she volunteered at The Pecos National Historical Park, and more recently at El Rancho de las Golondrinas.

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