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Avanyu Trail Day

In honor of Earth Day

April 19, 2013 10:00 am through 4:00 pm

Avanyu Trail Day: In honor of Earth Day. Walk our Avanyu Heritage Trail. Trail booklets available at the front desk for self-guided tours. Additional southwestern plants, traditional crops, water saving farming technique information will be available.

The Avanyu Heritage Trail is Museum Hill’s permanent outdoor exhibit about the Native people and the environment of the Southwest. Designed to acquaint visitors with some of the creative ways Native people adapted to and manipulated their environment, the quarter-mile long interpretive trail includes reconstructions of traditional gardens as well as examples of ancient architecture.

Avanyu is the Tewa word for the plumed, or horned serpent, the guardian of waterways and harbinger of storms. Symbolic of the great importance water holds in the lives of the pueblo people, the Avanyu is its protector and provider.

Located behind the Museum of Indian Arts and Culture, the trail descends toward an arroyo from Milner Plaza™, to the Heritage Gardens. In the arid Southwest, water is the single most important factor in successful gardening. Terraces, check dams, a gravel mulch field, and waffle garden laid out near the arroyo are all ancient methods of maximizing the rainfall’s benefits.

Beyond the gardens, the wild plant foraging portion of the trail provides examples of native plants and their many uses. Wild currant berries were harvested for food and juniper berries used as medicine. Yucca plants provided edible fruit, the leaves were used to make sandals and rope, and the roots yielded soap.   

Across the arroyo, reconstructions of an Archaic hunting camp, a Pueblo field house and a Navajo camp are featured along a path that winds through the piñon and juniper trees. They provide examples of the variety of structures native New Mexicans called home at different times over the last 12,000 years. All are created from the materials Native people found at hand in their environment: trees, brush, and earth mixed with water to form plaster or adobe.

The Avanyu Heritage Trail has been developed over several years with the help of many people. Begun in 2002 as a partnership between the museum and the Santa Fe Botanical Garden to create an ethnobotanical garden on Museum Hill™, the master plan was funded through a donation from Robert and Carol Warren. Many people contributed to the content of the exhibit, including the museum’s staff, ethnobotanists, and archaeologists. The on-site work of constructing the trails, structures, and gardens, as well as planting was coordinated by Chris Turnbow, the museum’s former deputy director, and Joyce Begay-Foss, director of education. The construction and native plantings were done during the intervening years by an army of volunteers, including Boy and Girl Scouts, middle and high school students, and the Youth Conservation Corps.  The irrigation system and plant signage were funded by a grant from Las Jardineras Garden Club. The trail guide was written by Chris Turnbow and Jack Jackson, and illustrated by Carole Gardner.