The Hundredth Meridian

Two Trails to the Rainbow

It was in the spring of 1925 that a young Easterner named Clyde Kluckhohn, on sabbatical from Princeton to spend a year working on a cattle ranch near Ramah, New Mexico, first learned from a Zuñi Indian of the natural phenomenon called Nonne-zoche Not-se-lid (meaning “Rainbow of Stone”), standing at the very end of the Navajo world but considered by those few who had seen it more wonderful than the Great Cañon itself.  “Far, far,” the Zuñi explained, “hard on horses . . . no water . . . no food . . . nothing but rock and rock.”  Kluckhohn, though still green as a willow-wand after a year out West, concluded nevertheless that Nonne-zoche Not-se-lid was one of the things he was determined to see before returning to the East and school.  Barely able to control a riding horse, and with scarcely a notion how to load a pack animal, he purchased two horses from a local livestock dealer and set out from Ramah.  After several mishaps along even this short way, Kluckhohn arrived in Albuquerque, where he met up with a “knight of the road” named Roy Anderson, a youth his own age from New York City en route to Chicago astride a gelding called Bill.  Ten days later, they set out on an expedition together, westward across the land of the Navajo in search of Nonne-zoche Not-se-lid.

Among patriots of the rural American West,...

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