The Galisteo Basin south of Santa Fe is celebrated for its diverse ecosystem as well as for its cultural assets.
It has been written that Paleo Indians first arrived in this area around 7,500BC and about 6,800 years later the Tano Indians moved in and began building a large pueblo community that had nearly 2,000 rooms.
Today, the abandoned, prehistoric pueblo of San Lazaro occupies about 160 acres of land that Forrest bought in the mid 1980’s. The property is both a retreat and an active archeological site where he has reflected, learned, investigated and worked to preserve and share the Tano legacy culture that disappeared over 300 years ago.
The hilly countryside of the Galisteo Basin is primarily savannah grasslands dotted with piñon and juniper. Its arroyo-riparian plants provide critical habitat for a surprising variety of New Mexico mammals including antelope, deer, bear, coyote and bobcat. In spring the grassland is carpeted with a rich display of colorful wildflowers.
The earliest written descriptions of the basin come from Coronado’s travels north while looking for the legendary City of Gold in 1540. Several celebrated American archeologists have visited here, including Adolph Bandelier before the turn of the 20th century and Nels Nelson in 1912.
Forrest is no isolationist. He has brought many of his friends out to San Lazaro to excavate with him. He annually invites a group of teens, under the supervision of a professional archeologist, to stay on the land and get involved in the San Lazaro excavation. Generally speaking, ruins are reserved for exploration by professionals and not for amateurs, but Forrest has introduced the joy of archeology to hundreds…perhaps thousands of novices. Who among us wouldn’t love to get our hands dirty and minds excited while uncovering the wondrous artifacts of a lost culture?
So here are some photos from Forrest’s scrap book and a short video of Forrest and friends out working and enjoying the pueblo.
And here’s a short video from the pueblo with Forrest and Suzanne.