Urraca Mesa

Transcription: “New Mexico is probably the most haunted state in America, especially Colfax County. I went camping at a ranch in Colfax County. The ranch and forest had a weird, eerie feeling. I felt like I was being watched at all times, like something was not right. When we were leaving, we passed this place called Urraca Mesa, which has the most lightning strikes in New Mexico. According to Navajo legend, Urraca Mesa has a gate to Hell. The Navajo also claimed the forest felt eerie…their shaman felt something was wrong and sent out warriors to investigate. They ended up at the Mesa and found a short, glowing being who claimed to be the last of the  Anasazi who mysteriously disappeared in 1500 BC. The Navajo brought the glowing creature back to their shaman. The last Anasazi told the Navajo that the Anasazi were fighting back the forces of evil at the gate of Hell. All the Anasazi went into Hell to stop the demons and save the rest of the world. The last Anasazi stayed behind to seal the gate and guard the entrance. He created cat totems to scare away magpies, which were prophesied to re-open the gate. The campsite was eventually closed because of all the sightings. People who go exploring the area claim to see a blue light that chases them if they get too close to the Mesa.”

This collection is noteworthy since my informant combined his own personal narrative experience with existing folklore. The story has various components and spans multiple timelines. The speaker began the story in present time, traced the narrative back to the Navajo, jumped even further back with the Anasazi plotline, then returned to present.

I doubt that the Navajo referred to the Mesa as the gate to “Hell.” Therefore, the speaker’s use of “Hell” to describe the portal to the underworld signifies his projection of his own Christian beliefs onto the story. In other words, he translated one element of the story into religious terms he understood. Despite his adaptation of the terminology, the speaker established the setting using elements that are familiar. For example, an “eerie feeling” is a common term associated with the supernatural, and lightning strikes identify the land as unnatural and filled with powerful energy.

This story can be classified as a legend since the it takes place in a real location, includes the legendary figure of the Anasazi, and relates to Native American religious legends. Both the Native American and Anasazi legends live on today as people visit the Mesa in search of a blue light.