2018 Death Valley Tribal Participants
On the left: Eli Aquino, Eric Calvert and Dwayne Calvert
On the right: Robert Mariano, then Aubrey Lujan, Isiah Chavez, Elijah Lujan, then Amber Chapo
New Mexico Natives Experience Death Valley
Cow Creek Compound was built in the 1930s by the Civilian Conservation Corps in south central Death Valley National Park. Currently used as a maintenance facility, it was constructed entirely of adobe with a surrounding compound wall hundreds of feet long. For several years, Cornerstones has been conducting adobe “hands on” training workshops to rebuild the severely deteriorated wall. Local soils are very rocky, and the adobe bricks contain a large percentage of gravely stone. The adobe surfaces of Cow Creek structures were never plastered, but were left to weather naturally, revealing lots of colorful stone. No straw was used, yielding a different kind of adobe, unfamiliar to those of us familiar with traditional building materials in New Mexico.
At the beginning of this year’s workshop in late October, a 5-person team from the Ancestral Lands Southwest Conservation Corps office in Albuquerque joined our 3 Okay Owingeh team members, who were starting the season’s work. Adobe making is always first on the agenda and the eight Native Americans representing Isleta Pueblo, the Navajo Nation and our Cornerstones’ team joined in a tribal collaboration to learn about materials, new techniques and to make over 1000 bricks for the wall work. Three diverse cultures with three different languages making bricks far from home in the lowest, hottest and driest place in the US made for a unique, rewarding shared experience. Our newest and youngest volunteer was on hand, picking up a trowel to help. Plans are underway to repeat the work project in 2019.
On the left - making adobe bricks. On the right - our youngest volunteer from the Ohkay Owingeh Pueblo, Braylon!
Cornerstones’ new intern, Isaac Logsdon, participated in his first work project with Cornerstones at the Cow Creek Compound from November 4th through December 14th. He helped restore several sections of a perimeter wall, which included rebuilding parts from the foundation, to repairing the original. He spent a day in the ghost town of Rhyolite, NV (a Bureau of Land Management site), repairing a 1906 bottle house. The house was built with earthen mortar and an estimated 50,000 glass bottles! We are delighted to welcome Isaac into the Cornerstones family. A recent graduate of Kansas State University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Art History and Ceramics degree from Kansas City Art Institute, Kansas City, MO., he is extremely talented and has much to offer!
The Glass Bottle House
We hope that you will think generously about donating to Cornerstones during this celebratory season!