Sacred and secular landscape symbolism at Mount Taylor, New Mexico



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Mount Taylor, a composite volcano in western New Mexico on the southeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau, is a signature landmark central to community identity. The seasonally snow-capped summit (elevation 11,301 feet above mean sea level) stands in marked contrast to the black lava flows of El Malpais. The mountain is sacred to at least four American Indian cultures - Navajo, Acoma, Laguna, and Zuni - and is named in at least nine languages: Spanish, English, Navajo, Apache, and five Pueblo Indian languages (Robinson 1994). Mount Tavlor has been a key navigation promontory for American Indians, Spanish settlers, and all explorers, as well as for interstate highway motorists and modern-day adventurers following the footsteps of Coronado (Preston 1992). This sacred peak is an essential component to a system of cultural meaning at both a community and regional scale, sustaining people in physical and spiritual terms.



Mountains, Volcanoes, New Mexico, Mt. Taylor