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A plea from a young Apache girl

Slide-otero-mesa-nm This article was originally published in the Ruidoso News and Alamogordo Daily News

I am an Apache Indian from the Mescalero reservation. Otero Mesa is more than just a place to me, it's a sanctuary. It is a place of peace, understanding and reliability not only for me, but for animals of all sorts, as far as spirits go.

I felt spiritually reborn when I visited Otero Mesa and I am concerned for its spiritual well-being.

Like a seed it needs care, patience and time. It needs nutrition. For it to be completely pure it needs natural resources to be as providing as possible. It still feeds on its instinctive well-being. Who are we to contaminate that?

My dream is to keep it pure of bad spirit, unwanted corruption and contamination, and for its natural elements to remain. It was not only a stronghold Apache fortress, but a place of spiritual renewal and visionary aspects, as well as a place of mental sanity.

I can feel it just looking at pictures and remembering the present smells, sights and calming sensations of the neutral atmosphere.

When I first got the privilege to visit the place for the first time, I was excited. I couldn't wait to go, and I knew it would mean the best to go dressed in my cultural clothing, knowing that moccasins haven't stepped foot on the natural desert terrain for generations. It was something very special to me -- a feeling that goes deep into spiritual meaning, a movement that would take away any value that money could never buy.

I could feel my ancestors' presence and was able to relive the patience of the true nature of our people, my abalone shell on my chest, the buckskin fringes on my dress, the feathers in my hair and the hide under my feet. We were one and we were home. I could feel it.

I could feel the crunch of rocks and sand underneath my feet and see the sight of the cliffs reaching for the sky. It was all too perfect, like a missing puzzle piece put into place or a diamond in the rough. Those are the best kind. I can see why wildlife are so isolated there, because it's the strength that Otero Mesa provides -- its security.

Dawn and mist hold the desert, solid cold holds the cliffs bearing thousands of exotic desert plants, rocks, grasses and carved-in petroglyphs in visions of our past. It is a place of focus, spiritual understanding and vision, and like any other colorful canvas, it is a masterpiece of Apache culture.

In my eyes, it is one of the purest in New Mexico wild land, a piece of "No Man's Land," owned truly of Apache spirit. The consumption of its natural resources and its maintained minerals will not be used for humanity needs. Never will I see this place be un-naturally treated.

Not while I'm alive.

-- By Twyla Rayne, a direct descendant of Cochise, the great Apache leader and warrior of the 19th century. She was born and lives on the Mescalero Apache Reservation.



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