LIFE AND LAND
Why are you here? Why Montezuma or Dolores County, Colorado? In talking to people there seems to be two basic answers, “this is home, it’s where I live”, or “ this is such a beautiful area and away from the big city”. The answers reflect differing views of life. Both of the Counties make up the Montezuma Valley and are dependent upon the water from the Dolores River to sustain life for the people.
The early people settling in the valley came for the very reason declared in the Declaration of Independence, “We hold these truths to be self-evident that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” In the first draft, the word “Happiness” was written as “Property” (ie Land). It was felt Happiness included Land as having one’s own land to live life on was assuring happiness. Every person must be “somewhere”, and the early people were all closely connected to the “Land” for producing food and shelter to sustain their lives.
Throughout history, man’s quest was for land and food. It was Conquer or be Conquered! Nothing has changed, only the ways and means are different today. That was a key factor in the Revolution, to be free to own your own land to raise your own food and do your own business. However, that meant being responsible for your own self and family in all matters. The new General Government, aka Federal government today, was only responsible to, “provide for the common defense, promote the general Welfare and secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” This was speaking of the States, which were each sovereign entities.
Later new territories were secured to make more sovereign States from ,thus began the “go west young man” to find your “own land” to live your life in Freedom and Liberty. My maternal grandfather did just that, he brought his family, (my mother was 3 years old at the time), to Montezuma Valley in December of 1918, in the middle of the Spanish flu, to homestead a dry land farm on the Dolores river rim. Why? to have his own land as a place to be to live his
own life in freedom and Liberty. That meant personal responsibility in ALL matters and much hard work while thanking God for His blessings of his own land, freedom and Liberty in living his Life. There was not any government help or regulations, not even a County maintained road. He never got rich, rarely had two Nickel’s to rub together, but lived to be over 100, happy and content In working the Land to provide food for his family, that was his life. He was just one of the many that turned the dusty dry “High Desert” of Montezuma valley into the verdant green pastures and fields that newcomers today come for recreation and retirement, not to work to build a community of life.
Today we are seeing a big change taking place, the numbers of people are growing, however the lives and “industry” are stagnating and dying down. It raises the question, “if the electric power grid went down for only 6 months, what would we, as a community, in the Montezuma Valley do?”. Who are we, and what is a common thread of belief, faith and trust that would bring us together for work and support of each other?