A butte is an isolated hill with steep sides and a flat top created by the gradual erosion of the earth around by water, wind or ice. The Enchanted Mesa is a sandstone butte in New Mexico where the Acoma tribe lived, until a heavy storm and a landslide destroyed the only access to the peak, forcing them to move elsewhere.

Enchanted Mesa is a sandstone butte in Cibola County, New Mexico, United States, about 2.5 miles (4.0 km) northeast of the pueblo of Acoma. It is called Mesa Encantada in Spanish and Katzimo or Kadzima in Keresan. Acoma tradition says that Enchanted Mesa was the home of the Acoma people until a severe storm and landslide destroyed the only approach. There are no longer any ruins on the flat top. The butte is 430 ft (130 m) high, 1,250 ft (380 m) long and only 400 ft (120 m) ft wide, at its widest. The elevation at the top is 6,643 ft (2,025 m).

In 1892, when Charles F. Lummis was visiting Acoma he listened to the old Indian governor, Martín Valle, who told the story of how the Acoma people used to live on Enchanted Mesa. Their access to the top was on the southern side where a large piece of the butte was said to have spalled off and formed a ramp, a “stone ladder”, up to the top. In reality, access was by climbing a ladder in a narrow fissure. Evidence of holes carved into the sandstone on either side of the fissure can be seen, located in the horseshoe shaped bowl at the southern end. The early inhabitants had a precipitous climb up the fissure, but it assured their safety. Into these holes were placed stout lengths of wood, the ‘rungs’ of the ladder. Today, this is still the only means of climbing access to the top of the mesa. Their fields, and the springs that were their water source, were in the valley. In the summer, the entire village would descend into the valley to tend the crops. One afternoon a severe thunderstorm washed away the “stone ladder”, leaving only sheer rock faces all the way around the butte. Legend has it that three old women and a young boy had been left in the village, but they could not get down, nor could anyone else get back to the village. A giant thunderbird swooped down and scooped up the four and carried them to the valley floor. The Acoma people abandoned Enchanted Mesa and moved to White Rock Mesa, now called Acoma.

Picture Credit: Google

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