Monday, March 15, 2010

Artifact Theft and a Devastating Flood is Theme of Anasazi Intrigue

Stolen artifacts, the Santa Clara/Virgin River flood, a snoopy newspaper reporter, and mysterious events begin to unfold with Anasazi Intrigue.

When a devastating flood wipes out homes in a small town, residents are shocked by the news of a possible poison spill that also kills many of the fish and neighbor's pets. The people don’t know what to think or do, until Julia, the town's newest reporter, jumps into action and begins her investigation. Quickly Julia realizes the story is much bigger and more dangerous than she thought. As information unfolds, Julia and her husband find themselves on the run, trying to save their lives while finishing the story of a lifetime. She never realized that being a reporter could be so dangerous. With artifacts, dead fish, a devastating flood, and miscreants, John and Julia have their hands full.

In Anasazi Intrigue, Clarke creates a story based upon an independent, educated, and strong woman character. Suko’s Notebook Reviews said of Clarke’s writing: “Linda Weaver Clarke is outstanding at presenting the characters' thoughts.”

There are two subjects discussed in this novel: The Santa Clara/Virgin River Flood and stolen artifacts. The mystery of the Anasazi Indians boggles the minds of many archaeologists. Ancient dwellings, petroglyphs, and pottery found in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico are fantastic and part of Anasazi history. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to take it apart. Archaeological thievery is becoming more and more of a problem every year.

The second subject brings out what really happened during the flooding in southern Utah. Lost homes can be replaced, but it’s impossible to replace precious treasures that had no value to anyone but the owner, such as photos and memories of the past. The stories of hope, charity, and little miracles seem to uplift others and have a wonderful effect on people during a crisis such as this. Clarke’s novel brings out what really happened in St George, Utah but the mystery is just beginning.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Disaster, Hope, and Charity: The Santa Clara/Virgin River Flood

A thunderous crash could be heard in the distance as a home collapsed and crumbled into the rushing waters below. Several people were standing at the edge of a hilltop in Santa Clara, Utah, watching their valley being destroyed before their very eyes. The torrent had eaten away the dirt of the riverbank and the foundation of the house. With no support, the home fell into the rapidly flowing river and was swept away downstream.

The Santa Clara/Virgin River flood in St. George, Utah, in 2005 was a complete disaster. Standing on the hill and watching the destruction below was an emotional experience for everyone. The trees and shrubs that once lined the small five-foot-wide river were now gone, uprooted and swept away by the violent and turbulent flow of water. What took years for nature to create, nature was able to destroy within seconds. Who would ever have guessed that the creek would swell to such width, viciously cutting away at the landscape?

The once tranquil stream, which could easily be crossed on foot or in a car, was now as wide as the length of a football field, and it was taking everything within its path. The speed of the river had once been five cubic feet per second, and now it was more than 6,500 cubic feet per second. In three days time, it had dug into the earth’s surface, carving away at the banks and creating ridges as high as thirty to forty feet. The torrent was digging at the earth at ten feet per hour like a plow and sweeping the red dirt and trees down the river into Arizona and Nevada. In fact, a man found his car thirty miles downstream from his home. It had crossed the border into Nevada.

Men worked feverishly to help the residents remove what they could from the homes that were threatened by the river, but there were those who escaped with only the clothes on their backs. About two hundred homes were damaged and twenty-five were completely destroyed. The experience of charity and compassion by the people was incredible. There was no prejudice of religion, race, culture, or status, just unconditional love and concern for everyone. Homes, clothes, and food were instantly found for the homeless.

Why was the flooding so bad that year? Six weeks of rain following a seven-year drought was the main reason. Built-up debris blocked the river channel and the only direction to go was outward, toward farmland and homes. Not only that, the heavy snow in the mountains seemed to be a blessing to this desert land, but the unusually warm January melted the snow too fast. With the constant rain during that month, the saturated ground couldn’t hold any more. The estimated damage was nearly two hundred million dollars.

Lost homes can be replaced, but the sad thing about this flood was the loss of irreplaceable and precious treasures that had no value to anyone but the owner, such as photos and memories of the past. Do you believe in miracles? Stories of hope always touch people, including me.

An elderly widow grabbed what she could with the help of her neighbors but wasn’t able to get everything. She lost her husband’s and her own Book of Remembrance, which had pictures of their family, their ancestors, and their biographies. All those memories were swept away in the flood. The following day after her home was gone, a knock came at the door where she was staying. A man was standing before her with the book in his hand. He said that he found it washed up on a tree stump near his home. Needless to say, she wept for joy. But that’s not all. The following day, her husband’s book was found, also.

The kindness of others was overwhelming for this little valley. Fundraisers were put together and schools collected money for the homeless. To me, this was a story of hope and love, a story of charity. As I included all this information in my novel, Anasazi Intrigue, I relived this disaster once again. You see… I’m from Washington County, St. George, Utah. This was my valley. This was my home. These were my people!

To read an excerpt from my new novel,visit Make Believe.

Monday, March 1, 2010

The Mystery of the Anasazi

The mystery of the Anasazi Indians boggles the minds of many archaeologists. Who were they? What were their beliefs? How did they live? Indian art painted or engraved in rock gives us an idea who the Anasazi were, their beliefs and lifestyle. Carved into the desert varnish, the Indians left behind their heritage, their legacy.

Many people wonder why the Anasazi Indians disappeared, leaving behind their belongings and valuables. Where did they go and why? No one has the answer. There is much speculation about what might have happened to them. In “Anasazi Diaspora,” from Navajo Visions and Voices Across the Mesa, Shonto Begay said that because the “Ancient Ones” were not obeying the rules of the clan, such as showing reverence and respect to God and attending religious ceremonies, the people “lost favor” in God’s eyes and were “swept away.”

Some archaeologists believe that discord, tribal violence, and abuse among tribes caused abandonment of the villages. Wickedness, conflict, and warring among tribes forced some clans to leave the area and move to a new place, simply to get away from the contention. In one tribe located in southern Mexico, there were cases of homicide, “nearly all of which involved clan feuds or quarrels over women.” (The Last Lords of Palenque: The Lacandon Mayas of the Mexican Rain Forest by Victor Perera and Robert D. Bruce)

Ancient dwellings, petroglyphs, and pottery found in Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and New Mexico are fantastic and part of Anasazi history. When an ancient ruin is discovered, it doesn’t take long for thieves to find out about it. Archaeological thievery is becoming more and more of a problem every year. At the Gettysburg National Military Park a few years ago, a man was searched and they found a metal detector hidden in his pants. He was scouring the park with it protruding from his pant leg. He was looking for Civil War relics. Utah’s vandalism is the worst in the country. Theft at the Four Corners area of Utah is still a big problem. The damage to these sites is estimated at almost $42,000 in two year’s time.

In 1906, the U.S. Congress passed the Antiquities Act because the collecting of artifacts was getting out of control. It protects archaeological sites, allows research, and imposes fines and sometimes imprisonment for the vandalism of historic sites. It was created in order to protect the archaeological sites in the Four Corners region between Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado, and Utah.

Unfortunately there is no law to prevent digging on private property. In fact, archaeological theft has gone corporate. They even pay rent on private property in order to dig without being caught. Sometimes entire pueblos have been removed. An ancient funeral pit can be sold for as high as sixty thousand dollars on the black market, not to mention pottery, baskets, and pendants found by looters.

I read an article in the Las Vegas Newspaper about a couple men who were loading some artifacts in the trunk of their car. A ranger saw what they were doing and questioned them, not realizing he had accidentally stumbled upon the largest operation around. The article said they recovered more than eleven thousand one hundred relics.

Did you know that people are actually selling shards and arrowheads on websites? The Anasazi culture is being sold to the highest bidder. Is there anything that can be done to protect America’s past?

The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the government the right to protect and preserve all archaeological sites. It allows for scientific research but will impose fines and imprisonment for vandalism on historical sites.