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Author weaves local history of native peoples

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Photo by Hank Lohmeyer Archaeologist Sally Crum demonstrated the use of mano and metate for grinding corn during her presentation at the Grand Mesa Visitor Center on Saturday, part of the summer interpretative series.

Visitors to the Grand Mesa last Saturday got a bonus to their weekend recreation with a program on native peoples of the area given at the Visitor's Center.

The Grand Mesa Visitor Center's summer interpretative programs schedule that began last month is continuing on Saturdays through Sunday, Sept. 25, which is Color Sunday this year.

This coming Saturday, July 16 at 2 p.m., local historian and author Jim Wetzel will give a program on "Old Tales of the Grand Mesa," a topic he has researched and written about.

Last Saturday, July 9, retired archaeologist and author Sally Crum gave listeners a tour of 13,000 years of human occupancy in this area.

Using many color slides to help illustrate her subject along with hands-on demonstrations of how native peoples lived, Crum took her audience on a tour covering "13,000 years in 30 minutes."

Crum's career in archaeology included work with the Forest Service, BLM, other local agencies, tribal organizations and with private companies. She retired four years ago and is the author of several books in her field.

Her presentation, titled "Native People of the Western Slope" took in a broad landscape of local pre-history that included cliff dwellers of the southwest and the Utes of Northern Utah. Her historic perspective ranged from the first paleo-Americans who are believed to have crossed into North America from the Bering Strait land bridge following game herds, to the three Ute tribes of today who try to maintain their historic cultural heritages.

Crum's hand-on demonstrations designed to involve the interest of young and old alike included mano and metate for grinding corn, bayonet yucca that yields fiber for weaving, and the atlatal spear throwing device.

Crum has authored "People of the Red Earth: American Indians of Colorado Paleo to Present." She has also written two historical novels suitable for youth and adult readers alike: "Race to the Moonrise; An Ancient Journey," which deals with ancient native trade routes of the 13th century; and a sequel, "Race to the River: the Ancient Journey Continues."

She has also written an illustrated prose poem, "The Night the Stars Fell," that dramatizes accounts of the famous 1833 Leonid meteor shower. She has a website at sallycrum.com

More upcoming Saturday programs in the Saturday interpretative program series include the annual Grand Mesa Moose Day observance on July 30 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.; and also Smokey Bear's 72nd Birthday Party on Aug. 13 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

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