Commentary: I count myself very lucky growing up in Las Cruces with parents like mine, where publicly accessible lands have provided the backdrop to many of my childhood memories and have shaped who I am today.
Day hikes in the Organs, excursions to the lava flows and rock art sites, and backpacking trips in the Gila provided the setting for imagination to run wild and us kids to experience a sense of independence and discovery not easily found.
And while I can’t point to a specific site we visited, or a rock art panel that impressed me, or even the first arrow point I found washing out of an arroyo as the reason I ultimately pursued degrees in Anthropology and Southwest Archaeology, I credit the time spent on these public lands exploring with my family and friends as the reason why I was drawn so strongly to this field.
Now as a Doctoral student at the University of Texas at San Antonio, studying the prehistoric people that once occupied the landscape of southern New Mexico, the places we visited and the time spent getting to know my surrounding landscape informs and inspires me.
As I work to better understand the cultural, social, and economic complexities of the Mogollon people who occupied our area hundreds and even thousands of years ago I am reminded of the complexity of our own modern community and am grateful we value preservation of public lands and our rich shared cultural history.