The Tewa Connection…


POSTED IN may 2014

For quite awhile now I have been looking at various Native American legends that might contain allusions to Forrest’s poem. What I was particularly focused on was finding a legend that would give me a place to start…some Native American story based upon “where warm waters halt”. I have read legends from Blackfeet, Shoshone, Ute, Apache, Navajo, Sioux and several others looking for ideas. I came up empty. I couldn’t really find anything with a specific reference to “where warm waters halt”. Perhaps because I missed it or perhaps because it’s not there.

But it didn’t occur to me until much later that I left out at least one important group of Native Americans who could have occupied land where Forrest might have hidden his chest.

As you know, Forrest owns land that is the site of an ancient Tewa Indian pueblo called San Lazaro. He has been excavating it for some time and made several “new” discoveries that have contributed to the culture of the Tewa people. It occurred to me much later that perhaps the Tewa people have a history or legend that would point to “where warm waters halt”. This past winter I read dozens and dozens of manuscripts, books, essays and theses about and by the Tewa people. I reread Forrest’s San Lazaro book. I could find nothing and was considering the distinct possibility that I was barking up the wrong pinyon when a friend mentioned a collection of oral histories that live at the UNM and were recorded in the 1950’s. It took me awhile but I tracked down the curator of these recordings and inquired if I could listen to them. I was told they were not catalogued nor digitized at this time but I would be allowed to listen to the original recordings if I made an appointment. I did, and I was excited to begin.



A reel of 1/4″ audio tape

The recordings are on reels of audio tape. There are literally scores of reels. Handwritten notes on the boxes tell the interviewee, interviewer, date, location, etc. I had no idea where to begin. So I just began at the top. Most of the tapes I listened to were family stories…genealogical in nature more than my definition. The recordings were fine but I had a difficult time understanding much of what the interviewees were saying and little to none of it had anything to do with my own interest in legends.

Hours into my appointment, barely able to stay awake, I was scanning through a tape at double speed when I heard something that sounded like “In the beginning where warm waters halt…” My mind stirred..I became alert…I stopped the tape, rewound and played that section back.

It was an older male voice and he was retelling a legend of the Tewa winter and summer people who were living at Posi Ouinge, a prehistoric pueblo ruin just above the hot springs at what is now Ojo Caliente (hot eye) in New Mexico. There were several lines in the old mans’s telling of the legend that sounded very close to the lines in Forrest’s poem. The similarity was stimulating.

He told of the creation of the Tewa and started at the Ojo Caliente spring but talked about how the people visited a place of high water in a dry canyon too far for the elders to walk. He referred to the place he called “the rocks” as an area that is now known as Tres Piedras, which is about 30 miles from Ojo Caliente by road. 30 miles certainly seemed to far for me to walk.

I decided that someday, when visiting NM I would examine this place. That opportunity became reality last week when I drove Esmerelda to NM and met with Nick Lazaredes from Dateline, on the SBS TV Network in Australia. Nick had just flown in from the Ukraine where he was filming a story about the insurrection along the Russian border. I looked at his report. Bold filming…

Now he was producing a story on Forrest’s treasure hunt. He followed Diggin Gypsy around in the Montana snow for a few days and then came down to NM to follow me around, interview Forrest and visit Desertphile’s Fennboree (more on the Fennboree with pictures in my next post). This seemed like the perfect opportunity to explore the Tewa legend.


The Ojo Caliente Resort which is near the ruins of the Tewa pueblo of Posi Ouinge

I downloaded the Posi Ouinge brochure printed by the Bureau of Land Management and decided I would take Nick to two sites. First the pueblo site at Ojo where, according to the legend the winter and summer people began “where warm waters halt” and second to the place at Tres Piedras where “high water ended in a dry canyon atop the brown rocks striped with white”.

Now everyone who has listened to me spout off knows I don’t believe that a hot spring could possibly be a place where warm waters halt simply because the water does not halt. Instead it reaches the surface and spills out into a river or rivulet and continues on it’s journey to the sea. But here it was in a Native American’s own voice…the warm water’s halting at Ojo Caliente…possible??

Pottery shards are scattered all over the ancient pueblos site

Pottery shards are scattered all over the ancient pueblos site

The pueblo above the spring at Ojo is a fascinating place. Broken pieces of 500 year old pottery and other prehistoric artifacts of civilization are scattered throughput the area. I am sure someone with a better understanding of the land could have painted a clearer picture of exactly how the pueblo was once arranged on the wind eroded hills. But even without that knowledge it was great fun to stand among the fallen walls and imagine the day to day life in a community of 5,000 people who lived there for 500 or so years before the Spanish arrived in New Mexico.


The landscape near the ancient ruins of Posi Ouinge

Here they prepared arrows, told stories, collected water from the stream below, grew crops, butchered animals and created thousands of pots whose painted shards were now scattered in every direction around me. Walking this rolling, juniper dappled landscape was thought provoking. The small wildflowers in the arroyos were in full bloom and since it was May the temperature was still tolerable for a guy from Washington State.

Wildflowers on the mesa at Posi Ouinge

Wildflowers on the mesa at Posi Ouinge

A Collared lizard eyes my carnivorous self suspiciously

A Collared lizard eyes my carnivorous self suspiciously

Nick spent about two hours filming up there. I saw thousands of pot shards and a single arrowhead. I left everything at the site just as I found it since the government’s merciless rules forbid removing artifacts.

Next we drove over to Tres Piedras (three stones) and took a red dirt road nearly two miles past the ranger station back into the piñon and juniper and ponderosa. We parked and walked about a mile to the westernmost hummock of smoothed sandstone jutting out of the ground maybe 50 feet in height. The area reminded me of an old TV western.

Nick in a cleft in the rocks at Tres Piedras

Nick in a cleft in the rocks at Tres Piedras

I imagined the Apache preparing to attack us at any moment. Gene Autry or Jay Silverheels or Ward Bond taking up a position behind the safety of these hoodoo rocks. But we never saw anyone else back there. The brown rounded sandstone is indeed striped with ribbons of thick coarse quartz that stand out vividly like white blazes. So many to choose from…

From the tops of the hoodoo rocks at Tres Piedras

From the tops of the hoodoo rocks at Tres Piedras

We followed several white blazes to the ground. We explored inside small dry caves and under dark ledges and had a grand old time. Although no chest was found, Nick discovered a perfect, small white arrowhead resting upright in a clear pool of high water atop the rounded sandstone.

We knew we were not the first civilization to play on these rocks but are we the last?


You can download the BLM’s brochure about the Posi Ouinge ruins at Ojo Caliente here.

You can watch Nick’s Frontline Ukraine report here.
We will post his Forrest Fenn report as soon as it is available.

My Garmin tells me our location at Tres Piedras was here:
36°39.729N 105°59.374W

It’s a cool spot with views and shade and rocks to run around on and blazes abound.
Just because I didn’t find the chest does not mean you will not…

Bring water and have fun!!

When you find the treasure in this spot…please don’t tell me..


54 thoughts on “The Tewa Connection…

  1. I daresay I’m starting to understand the folks who want the chase to never end… I’ll miss rich storytelling like this, for sure. Thanks Dal.

  2. Well dal forrest says all u need is the poem u sure did a lot of reading and research . Just think u know even more about history. Loved your adventure I did well explaining it in detail. Glad u had a safe journey !!!!!!!:)

  3. Dal, I can hardly believe all the research you do! It makes me feel like such a slacker! 🙂

    Looking forward to seeing the new ff video.

  4. Another story I like. It sounds quiet there. Piñon trees smell good no matter how you spell it. This story helped me relax a little bit, just a little bit. Thanks for that one.

  5. Be it Tewa or Teac,
    WWWH isn’t straight from the horses mouth (or his master’s voice) ?
    A shame, that.

  6. Wow, Dal. You really had me going there. When I was a little kid, the last Chief of the Oshkosh Menominee (Chief Roy) lived almost next door to us near Fish Creek, Wisconsin. He must’ve been about 80 then, back in the mid ’60’s. I remember to this day him telling us the same story, and I’ve reflected on it for guidance during my own search. I wonder how many stories share common threads amongst the many tribes?

    BTW, Fish Creek is north of Santa Fe.

    Lots of high bluffs. But no mountains. However, there is a sacred white buffalo nearby…….

  7. Dal

    You really do put the foot work in. Maybe Fenn is talking about you when he says not to over think it. Even so I enjoyed the post and wouldn’t have had the slightest clue about the Tewa people. I imagine though Mr. Fenn knows all About Indian culture and legends. I look forward to seeing Nicks video.

    • I agree Ed-
      I think that whole theory was unnecessary. I started in on it because I was having such a difficult time coming up with a place for WWWH. Since then I believe I have an excellent WWWH that is simply common sense, involves no dams or Indian legends or hot springs and I am anxious to test it out.

  8. A searcher mentioned Yellow Stone NP as a possible interpretation for WWWH, Fenn replied that YS is a ‘region’ and not a ‘place’

    • People have also suggested that YNP itself might be the home of Brown because of the park staff’s brown uniforms or because of their first Chief Ranger. Others think that Forest Service land might be the home of Brown because of their brown uniforms..
      I think NPS uniforms are more green than brown.

      • I came upon your blog about Ojo Caliente and the telling of the Tewa legend you heard on the tapes, after a google search.

        One thing I have discovered in studying this poem is that Forrest seems to enjoy borrowing lines from other writers. He either does it on purpose or he does it inadvertently and does not realize it. I have found numerous lines in his poem that are exact matches to other quotes and writers. Its confusing because it leaves you wondering if the borrowing of the words and lines are intentional and if they are a clue or if it is only accidental borrowing or intended specifically as a red herring.

        I was able to chart on a map, each clue and connect the dots to specific places, checking off the clues one at a time and arriving at place name that basically is a “blaze”. But, then I end up on National Forest land and near a man made trail and I see that Forrest has said the place isn’t near a man made trail and I suspect it isn’t on National Park lands. The chest is not in the location I have tracked on my map. Still, I am intrigued by the fact that I have identified a specific place in which every single clue seems to line up (without stretching the clues to fit). I even found connections to every single line in the poem, not just the ones that everyone else accepts as the clue lines. I personally think every single line in the poem is significant.

        So, now my search has me looking at Ojo Caliente due to some clues that seem to point in that direction. The legend of the old Tewa indian is interesting. Thanks for sharing.

        • would love to discuss this further with you, I have been researching and seem to have a general area but no certain area.

  9. I enjoyed your adventure, especially since I had been to Ojo recently…we soaked our bones in the spa there…I did an area recon and didn’t see the blaze so decided to let hubby relax…..

  10. Dal, hope you don’t mind me adding a link here, but this is to a google book about the Tewa people, if anyone is interested, I had a good look through it and it’s very informative:

    Also Dal, you tell a great story, thanks.

  11. Dal-
    Are you sure you are really after a chest of gold?
    Your research findings and adventures are so much more valuable to us all, IMO.
    That said, I hope I get to my location before you do just so I can add to the search stories. But if you do get there first, leave a note saying “Dal was here.” At least I will know that I will have been in good company.
    Thanks for the latest post.

  12. I will be out again in three weeks testng out my boundary theory for WWWH (not fish related). I will be stopping by Ojo Caliente; not becasue it is on my solve list, but becasue I want to see the ruins. I also have several other non-chase stops to make for no other reason than they sparked my interest while I researched.

    Dal – I will look around while I am there. If I find it, I promise not to tell you. I do have an advantage though; five sets of eyes.


  13. Hello everybody,

    Just back from the Fennboree where I missed you and your friend Dal.
    Sorry I was late!
    Somehow after a rough couple of weeks, my treasure hunt turned into a honeymoon! And well, first things first, I can hunt later…

    Another great adventure dal, I think that maybe the vocabulary bar has been yet raised again?

    A quick word about Fennboree. Our hosts worked hard to make the experience one to never be forgot…thank you.

    In my four trips out west, I’ve failed terribly at treasure hunting, but continue to fight the good fight. I haven’t had the good sense to take enough pictures and even allowed my son to be in charge… bad choice. This time, I stopped and took tons of pics and I think it might help with my treasure hunting, or what I like to call the CHASE. Times to not be forgotten. I should say I’m fairly confident that box won’t be found. Also, just because I find a place in which a man wants to die doesn’t mean I’d take his belongings. Which brings up…


    At first I thought I saw two teepees, (IMO) that I saw something. As I drove closer and closer the two teepees became two hands held together as in prayer. Immediately, Psalm 22 came to mind. I thought this is what f might have meant.

    And while I should keep quiet (husssh), it’s much too beautiful a place not to at least describe.

    And, The question of whether or not God hears our thoughts through silent prayer is simple… of course he does. Did f secret a treasure? Smiles.

    I looked at this rock formation for quite some time before I decided to roll on. I thought there would be no better place on this planet to die.
    Beneath it was a gorgeous winding river and critters galore, it was awesome. I guess best described already in a song.

    On the first part of the journey
    I was looking at all the life
    There were plants and birds and rocks and things
    There was sand and hills and rings
    The first thing I met was a fly with a buzz
    And the sky with no clouds
    The heat was hot and the ground was dry
    But the air was full of sound
    After two days in the desert sun
    My skin began to turn red
    After three days in the desert fun
    I was looking at a river bed
    And the story it told of a river that flowed
    Made me sad to think it was dead.
    After nine days I let the horse run free
    ‘Cause the desert had turned to sea
    There were plants and birds and rocks and things
    There was sand and hills and rings
    The ocean is a desert with its life underground
    And a perfect disguise above
    Under the cities lies a heart made of ground
    But the humans will give no love
    You see I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name (Crown
    It felt good to be out of the rain
    In the desert you can remember your name
    ‘Cause there ain’t no one for to give you no pain
    La, la …
    So the place was extraordinary. 🙂
    Mark H.

  14. Amy I’ve been on the NM bandwagon. A beautiful and most unusual State. Maps, No dams!
    dal, I would like to make a comment in regards to the searchers and some of the places that you dal and Esmeralda might have been.
    These are some of the last wildernesses. The last frontiers if you will. These are no places for folks just getting out who have no experience, let alone eyesight and balance.. Searchers should take this very seriously, or you might be singing Amazing Grace while getting ready to meet your maker!
    We as hunters need to practice, and prepare for survival and the “what if’s”??? Make lists. No where your going and why. Pack smartly. Obey the law or don’t get caught…
    Metal detectors are probably good if your in the right spot and IMO that means you already knew it with confidence… darn, now I have to study where metal detectors are allowed in NM…wait, reverse that, now I don’t have to learn where metal detectors… oh you get it…grins.
    I’m making this one up as I go, but a nice size spoon the kind my kids dig in the yard with would be better than carrying a shovel (sorry Stephanie). Also carrying some good walkie talkies, A Garmin GPS gizmo with a help button could be useful, and lastly carry a lot of water. It was hot by noon where I just came from. I imagine it gets up to the 110s and 20s in some places within the month. PREPARE.. so hunt happily and hunt YNP a lot,… the treasures there… and it’s cooler.

  15. Yep maybe low to mid 100s is about the max midstate in NM. Northern reaches are usually a little less. If you arent used to heat though it will feel hotter.
    Water is so very important to prevent heat stroke. Make sure you carry zip lock bags and a small cooler with ice. You can put some ice in the bag and cool off your core by placing it over your heart area or the base of your skull. Keep hydrated. Today it was 90 degrees in Albuquerque. 🙂

  16. Dal.
    Bow to your excellent studies for the search. However it does not fit the poem. Tres piedras elevation is much higher than Ojo Caliente, whereas the poem says :”And take it in the canyon down”

  17. Thanks Dal,
    I sure wish you would join forces with me. The reason I say this is that I to was in the same “general vicinity” last April. The reason I came up empty was the water was too high (not that the chest is in water, but you WILL get wet). Its hard to say “it will be worth the cold” when your in a raft and it’s snowing out.
    I am truly amazed though that a camera crew would follow you around without an exact spot in mind. Forrest said all you need is the poem. That is all I used.
    Yes the book TTOTC does give HUGE hints, but if you know where to begin, it will all fall into place. It has.
    I’m sorry to hear you came up empty handed, you at least were in the right state. I am happy to hear though, it will be waiting for me on my triumphant return on July, 4th and I am looking to celebrate and inebriate at the Taos Mesa Brewery on my birthday July 13th. Hey, as a fellow Washingtonian I am inviting you.
    I wish I could tell you why I am so sure about the location, but you will all be amazed at the simplicity. Everyone is WAY over thinking the clues. Forrest said the person who finds it will be sure of him (or hers) self . So…..This will be my second trip in 3 months to New Mexico from Seattle.
    Hell, we could at least car pool. Does Esmerelda over heat on the mountain passes? Maybe the downhill part is where warm water halts. Na…
    I do have a few new thoughts for you all to ponder:
    He,(FF), talks about full circle. Placer gold is often found in river beds, then melted, shaped, stamped, etc… If it is returned to the river in the chest, it has gone full circle.

      • Just between me and you, your latitude is just a little off. Oh God its hard to keep a secret, but I had the spot I had researched all winter long, THEN, ..I figured out both the exact longitude AND latitude, and guess what ? They are BOTH at the EXACT spot I had determined it to be.
        As you ARE the top dog, you must have figured the Rio Tusas to be associated with Forrests’ two sisters. And if it’s not there during my triumphant return next month, I will show you my homework.
        I e-mailed Forrest at the address in the book, the earthlink address. Is this a valid way to contact him? I never got a reply, but I spelled out to him how I came up with my calculations.
        Anyway Dal, you do a hell of a good job. Thank you. I’m sorry I thought you and Gypsy Kiss were fictitious . I was trying out a new strain of meds…Arr Arrr. . Peace

  18. I cannot tell you how much I hope that this one was the right one. It seems so perfect. I don’t know that I will ever get the chance to go out there, so I live vicariously through you are amazing storytelling. I am rooting for you!

  19. I just wanted to know if after listening to the tapes you asked if Forest had also done so? giving you another potential clue

    • Nope. Never talked to Forrest about that place but I think his comment about that place being a pretty stupid idea is in the…

  20. So Dal, no one has asked, but did the recording actually contain the phrase “where warm waters halt,” or did you just think you heard it at double speed?

  21. Enjoyed your details of the trip to Tres Piedras and Ojo Caliente spring. A couple of words of the poem seem to jump off the page and I can’t help wondering if maybe they tie into this place. I have two ideas on what the words “warm water halts” could mean. It seems that a majority of folks believe it means that warm water stops in some way. There is another meaning of halt, which is to “stand at attention” or “rise up”. So it is not impossible that a spring of water, geyser or other water could qualify as water that halts. I really haven’t noticed anyone mentioning this definition which I think should be considered. I have mentioned in several places that I think the first stanza of the poem is significant. I have interpreted it in a couple of different ways. It appears to me that most folks think “As I have gone alone in there” is a reference to Forrest hiding the treasure. Possibly. . . but possibly not. What if it is a reference to something else? Consider the words ” quest to cease”. I looked at American Indian definitions of quest and I see that usually it refers to a vision quest. If I understand it correctly, a young man or woman (perhaps a BRAVE), would go to a sacred place designated by the tribe where he/she would seek for a spiritual connection (PEACE) and would seek (hmm. . . the word seek is also in the poem) for a vision to come to him/her to give guidance for life. Just thought I’d share these thoughts that popped into my head and see if maybe it helps you or me or someone else to piece this together.

  22. I found your article about a possible Taos connection to be very interesting. It was sure a lot of work to look at Indian legends in search of possible connections to lines in the poem. I was curious if you have looked for similar stories in other locations that might contain lines from the poem. I’m currently working on my fourth search area. In studying the area of my search, I came across a local story which specifically talks about “heavy loads” (not in a context that would have ever occurred to me) and there are other connections to the poem as well. Has anyone else come across something like this in your search and did you pursue it? At this point in time, I think I’ve got it narrowed down to a very small area. I think this local story is an indicator that I’m on track. It isn’t the only piece of helpful information in this area. Anybody else come across a local story that contains “heavy loads” and seems to line up with the poem?

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