South from Mountainair 26 miles lies Gran Quivir]—a bit of a drive, and you’ll have to backtrack, but on the way you’ll pass Rancho Bonito, another Pop Shaffer creation—his actual home. As it’s private property, you can’t go poking around, but from the road you can see a bit of the little log cabin painted in black, red, white, and blue. (If you happen to be in Mountainair in May for its art tour, the house is open to the public then.)
Where Highway 55 makes a sharp turn east, Gran Quivira (505/847-2770, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. daily in summer, 9 a.m.–5 p.m. daily in winter, free) looks different from the other two Salinas pueblos, Abó and Quarai because it is built of gray San Andres limestone slabs, not sandstone, and finished with plaster that was painted with symbols. It’s the largest of the three, with an estimated population between 1,500 and 2,000, likely devoted to trade, as the large array of feathers and pottery styles found here indicate.
Like the people of Abó, the residents spoke Tompiro, and the Spanish dubbed them Los Rayados (The Striped) for the decorations they wore on their faces. It appears they outwardly accepted the Franciscan mission after the first sermon was preached here in 1627. But they took their own religion literally underground, building hidden kivas underneath the residential structures even as they toiled on two successive missions ordered by the Catholics.
Nonetheless, the place was deserted by 1671, after more than a third of the people had starved to death.
© Zora O'Neill from Moon Santa Fe, Taos & Albuquerque, 2nd edition