National Geographic : 1970 Sep
"They walk over a dune, and they're gone. Last month, it took a hundred men 24 hours to find two little girls. They'd gone seven miles back into the sands. They were dehydrated, burned, and hopelessly lost, but alive." I could see what it would be like. All around us stretched a softly breaking sea of sand and moaning wind and no landmarks. I glanced at the sun for direction. Reading the gesture, Watts said, "Yes, but that won't help when there's a sandstorm and you can't see the sun. Listen, when there's a sandstorm, we just plain shut down." Back in the car, we circled a huge dune and skidded to a stop at the sight of a blue sports car with a pair of incongruous snow skis glistening from a rooftop rack. On the slope of the dune, two sunburned youths in swim ming trunks were trying without much suc cess to master sand-skiing. Each balanced pre cariously on a single wide-beamed sand ski. "We thought it would be a good story to tell back home in Austria," Dieter Waldeg said as he and his friend joined us, "sand-skiing one day and snow-skiing the next. We're going to find the snow tomorrow." White Sands' Missiles Made of Stone The Austrian travelers headed for Taos Ski Valley, where skiers enjoy what is claimed to be the driest snow in the United States or Europe (page 339). I went on to the 4,000 square miles of sagebrush and saltbush in the White Sands Missile Range. In this vast emptiness, once ruled by the lizard, the snake, and the coyote, 9,000 technicians and sci entists test military missiles. It struck me as an odd coincidence that a state which has become a proving ground for our most modern weapons should also be the one where Ice Age weapons were first found on this continent. In 1926, at Folsom in New Mexico's northeast corner, scientists dis covered 10,000-year-old stone dart points the first generally accepted evidence of the presence of Ice Age nomads. Later, dart points excavated at Clovis, farther south, proved to be some 2,000 years older.* These primitive weapons sufficed for New Mexico's Indians for thousands of years. By contrast, the revolutionary needle-shaped weapons thrusting their noses high into the *Archeologists George E. and Gene S. Stuart discuss the latest theories about these points and the people who made them in DiscoveringMan's Past in the Americas. This 212-page book, published in 1969, may be ordered from Dept. 61, National Geographic Society, Washing ton, D. C. 20036, for $4.25, plus postage and handling. 316 Taos, the high-rise pueblo A PROTECTION against enemies, Indians built their pueblos, or villages, as high as five stories, with no openings on the ground level. Except for added doors and windows, Taos stands little changed today (below). Women still perform such daily chores as sweeping the dirt plaza and baking bread in beehive ovens. Unlike other New Mexican pueblos, Taos resists moderniza tion, banning electricity and running water. Taos men, like Frank Gomez (right), wrap blankets about their heads. They may have adopted the custom-which distinguishes them from other Pueblo Indians-from Plains Indians to the east, among whom they sought sanctuary from the Spanish invaders.