Plateau on the Radio: Episode 2 California Condors

This is the Colorado Plateau Episode 002 - California Condors in now available for listening pleasure! Enjoy, and let us know how we are doing, or any ideas you might have for future shows.

Plateau on the Radio!

We started our efforts with 'This is the Colorado Plateau' as a means for scientists, community members, conservationists and students to come together and share their research, questions, observations and goals. Since then it has also evolved into a space for artists, photographers and volunteer coordinators to share their visions and efforts on the Plateau through the stroke of a paintbrush, the focusing of a lens, or the fulfillment of service to the outdoors.

When we hit 5000 followers on Facebook, it became clear that it was time to take the art of communication to another level, to an unfamiliar place, a place that we have zero experience in, and a place that would reach more people who love the Plateau, and who might not be to interested in our current forms of outreach through social media. Thus the idea for a little radio show was born.

We approached a community radio station, Radio Sunnyside 101.5
out of Flagstaff, AZ with our idea, and a great friendship was born. All of Radio Sunnysides DJ's and hosts are volunteers, like us, who have endless amounts of passion and dedication to give to those that would listen. And we are beyond proud to say that our first radio installment of 'This is the Colorado Plateau' will be aired live this Thursday, January 18th 2018 from 10 to 11am. If you are in the Flagstaff, AZ listening area you can catch it on the air at 101.5, or if you are elsewhere you can stream it live via

After the live show we will make it available here on this webpage, for folks to listen to anytime they'd like.

Our first shows comes at a perfect time to spotlight an event on the Plateau called Rumble on the Mountain. Rumble on the Mountain is an annual concert to raise awareness of the plight of the people and lands of the Colorado Plateau. This year's show will be held at the Coconino Center for the Arts on January 20, 2018 from 2pm-7pm. Featured artists include Sihasin, Ryone Polequaptewa, Ed Kabotie & Tha Yoties, and presentations from Jason Nez, Black Mesa Water Coalition, and Black Mesa Trust. Rumble on the Mountain IV - 'Sacred Lands of the Colorado Plateau' will be an experience of music, art, and education about the sacred and threatened lands of the Plateau. 

Our first guest Ed Kabotie.
Our guest on the show will be Ed Kabotie and here is a little bit about Ed from the man himself...

"My name is Ed Kabotie. I am from the village of Shungopagi and the Tewa village of Khap'o Owinge (Santa Clara Pueblo). On the day I was born, snow clouds hung over the mountains to the west of Santa Clara, so my aunt named me 'Okhuwa P'ing' (Cloud Mountain). My vision as an artist is to express the virtues of my Native American cultures. These expressions take the forms of overlay jewelry, watercolor paintings, traditional pottery, and trilingual (English, Hopi & Tewa) musical compositions.

My heritage is my inspiration. I am a third generation artist. Both my father and my grandfather before me were artists. My earliest memory is sitting with my father at the kitchen table of our home, with buffalo dance songs in my head, painting a picture to give to my dad. I am currently seeking to improve my skills and techniques in order to more effectively communicate my vision to the world."

So please tune in on Thursday, January 18th. We can't promise we will be great at a radio show, and we can't promise there won't be many mistakes and hiccups (it's live after all!), but we can promise we will give this effort our all. 

Thanks so much for making 'This is the Colorado Plateau' a part of your world and we hope to continue to bring you the best in regional Science, Photography and Events from every corner of our beautiful area.

Postcards from the Plateau: Shiprock

Photograph by Thom Polineros
Shiprock or Tsé Bitʼaʼí, rises 1,583 feet (482.5 m) in the distance above the high-desert plain of the Diné Nation. The name Tsé Bitʼaʼí refers to the story of the great bird that brought the Navajo from the north to their present lands.

The name "Shiprock" or Shiprock Peak or Ship Rock derives from the peak's resemblance to an enormous 19th-century clipper ship. However Anglos first called the peak "The Needle," a name given to the topmost pinnacle by Captain J.F. McComb in 1860. United States Geological Survey maps indicate that the name "Ship Rock" dates from the 1870s.

The peak and surrounding land are of great religious and historical significance to the Navajo people. It is mentioned in many Navajo myths and legends. Foremost is the peak's role as the agent that brought the Navajo to the southwest. According to one legend, after being transported from another place, the Navajos lived on the monolith, "coming down only to plant their fields and get water." One day, the peak was struck by lightning, obliterating the trail and leaving only a sheer cliff, and stranding the women and children on top to starve. The presence of people on the peak is forbidden "for fear they might stir up the chį́įdii (ghosts), or rob their corpses."

In a legend that puts the peak in a larger geographic context, Shiprock is said to be either a medicine pouch or a bow carried by the "Goods of Value Mountain", a large mythic male figure comprising several mountain features throughout the region. The Chuska Mountains comprise the body, Chuska Peak is the head, the Carrizo Mountains are the legs, and Beautiful Mountain is the feet.

One legend has it that Bird Monsters (Tsé Ninájálééh) nested on the peak and fed on human flesh. In one version, after Monster Slayer destroyed Déélééd at Red Mesa, he killed two adult Bird Monsters at Shiprock and changed two young ones into an eagle and an owl. (In another version, the Warrior Twins were summoned to rid the Navajo of the Bird Monsters.)

The peak is mentioned in stories from the Enemy Side Ceremony and the Navajo Mountain Chant. It is associated with the Bead Chant and the Naayee'ee Ceremony (Excerpt from Discover New Mexico).

Postcards from the Plateau - Pumpkin Springs

One of the most interesting springs on the Plateau would have to be Pumpkin Springs in the Grand Canyon at River Mile 212.9 on the Hualapai Nation. Named for its round, gourd like appearance, the spring waters within are not considered to be safe. Lead, zinc, copper, and very high levels of arsenic can all be found within, before it empties itself into the swift Colorado River.

A great paper titled Dissected hydrologic system at the Grand Canyon: Interaction between deeply derived fluids and plateau aquifer waters in modern springs and travertine by Laura J. Crossey, et al, discusses what the noble gases bubbling out with the CO2 here tell us about tectonic connections to this special place.

Since this spring is so unique, it often attracts folks floating down the river straight to it, and it truly is a wonderful sight as long as you only look, but don't touch. In the 2012 report titled Evaluating Hualapai Cultural Resources Along the Colorado River there is mention of the Spring being damaged by boaters jumping off it into the river. From the report: 'Visitation continues to be high at Pumpkin Springs with negative impacts to the Pumpkin as evidenced above with standing and jumping. Spiritual impacts for Hualapai are significant in this regard.' For Hualapai Elders, as quoted from the report, “springs were and still are sacred today. You don’t just go to a spring and drink water. You have to pray first. That water is there for a purpose…The purity of the springs is sacred. The use of the water is sacred…It was life-giving…”.

Further in the report mentioned above, Hualapai Elders said during a 1993 river trip, that Pumpkin Springs was regarded as “…a significant sacred site, utilized for medicinal purposes. The Hualapai people would travel many miles to be healed by this sulfuric water…”

So if you are lucky enough to get to see the spring, just remember that it is a sacred site, and also an extremely delicate site, and hopefully it will be protected for years to come.

What is the Colorado Plateau?

Encompassing 240,000 square miles (386,242 km) including the transition zones, the Colorado Plateau stretches across four states; Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico as well as many Tribal Nations too. 

Ancient volcanic craters, plugs and mountains, mesas and buttes, amazingly deep canyons, and most every ecosystem you can imagine can be found upon the Plateau. Elevations for this large area starts at about 610 m (2,000 ft) above sea level, with plateau tops ranging from  1,534 to 2,134 km (5,000 to 7,000 ft) and mountaintops reaching nearly 3,960 km (13,000 ft).  About 90% of the area is drained by the Colorado River and its main tributaries: the Green, San Juan, and Little Colorado. Most of the remainder of the plateau is drained by the Rio Grande and its tributaries.

The Colorado Plateau has been continuously inhabited by native people of the Americas for approximately 12,000 years. Today, the native peoples of the Colorado Plateau include the Hopi, Diné (Navajo), Zuni, Hualapai, Havasupai, Ute, Apache, and Southern Paiute Nations. 
The Colorado Plateau also has the greatest concentration of U.S. National Park Service (NPS) units in the country outside the Washington, DC metropolitan area. Among its nine National Parks are Grand Canyon, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Mesa Verde, and Petrified Forest. Among its 18 National Monuments are Bears Ears, Rainbow Bridge, Dinosaur, Hovenweep, Wupatki, Sunset Crater Volcano, Walnut Canyon, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Natural Bridges, Canyons of the Ancients, Chaco Culture National Historical Park and the Colorado National Monument.
From time to time on this page we will focus in on the various sciences of the Plateau, including Plateau Geology, Paleontology, Hydrology and Habitats.
Map of the Colorado Plateau Boundary
Map Courtesy of Ron Blakey, NAU Geology

A New Way to Connect on the Plateau

We receive so many wonderful submissions on our Facebook page, but due to our format of 1-2 posts a day, it is impossible to get to them all. Some folks have suggested we form a Group as a way for the friends of this page to connect with one another on an individual or personal level, and we agree! Please consider joining This is the Colorado Plateau: Science, Events and Photography Group on Facebook. Post about your research or a scientific job listing in the area, submit your Plateau art and photography, alert everyone to a Colorado Plateau event or local scientific news, ask a question about a wildlife sighting or geological layer...all are welcome to participate in this Group. Hopefully see you there! (For a more detailed look at the 'rules' for posting on the new group page, keep on reading below the link)

Further information about the Group:

This group was created as an effort to give friends and followers of the page This is the Colorado Plateau: Science, Research and News a platform to share information, experience and community happenings for the greater Colorado Plateau area that encompasses much of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico as well as many tribal nations such as the Hopi, Navajo, Zuni, Hualapai, Havasupai, Ute, Apache, and Southern Paiute people.

Scientists: We welcome submissions in the form of links to published articles or open source journals, job postings, images and updates from your current research, event postings for public talks, and any outreach initiatives seeking Citizen Scientists or volunteers. Some submissions, with your permission may be ran as a 'Notes from the Field' segment to reach a wider audience. 

Photographers and Artists: At the heart of Plateau Science is a love of the Plateau itself. Please submit any photography or art in any medium that shows the vision you wish to share of the Plateau. These submissions, with your permission, may be ran as a 'Postcards from the Plateau' post attributed to your name, to reach an even larger audience. Feel free to post links to your personal website when submitting art.

Educators, Activists and Community Members: Have a question in regards to science on the Plateau? Know of a science related event or have a link to a Plateau science related news article or point of view? Want to submit an interesting wildlife sighting or petroglyph photo? Please use this platform to further along information to those that love the Colorado Plateau. 

All are welcome and see you on the Group Page.