ANNUAL MESCAL ROAST BEGINS AT STATE PARK 05/14/99 CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) _ Prayer and a blessing by Mescalero Apache counselors marked the beginning of the 13th annual Mescal Roast and Mountain Spirit Dance. ``It's about blessing these young Apache girls,'' said Mark Rosacker, wildlife culturist at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens State Park. ``They're having their feast because they're becoming women. ``It's the strength wisdom and knowledge of these young girls that everyone looks up to. This also teaches us to respect life.'' The four-day event at the park, which began Thursday, celebrates Mescalero Apache culture. ``We must never forget our traditions,'' said Nathaniel Chee, Mescalero Apache medicine man and spiritual leader. ``It makes me feel good to be an Apache and share with the spectators. ``When you taste the mescal, it has the power to take all evil things out of your body, hearts and minds. We always put God first in the things we do,'' he said. The roast and dance also is aimed at building a better understanding of New Mexico's multicultural history and demonstrating the importance of preserving and protecting the Chihuhuan desert ecosystem. The Mescalero Apache tribe depended on the mescal plant, also known as the century plant, as a staple food roughly equivalent in nutritional value to oats. Mescal could be dried and easily stored over long periods. Early Spanish explorers called the tribe ``mescal makers,'' from which the name Mescalero was derived. Some of the best-known archaeological sites in the Guadalupe Mountains are Mescalero Apache mescal roasting pits. For the Mescal Roast, agave plants are gathered from a ranch south of Carlsbad by Mescalero students, counselors, tribal elders and park personnel, Rosacker said. The roasting pit and mescal hearts are blessed by the four directions of the sun with a yellow pollen. The plants are then placed in the pit and covered with wet bear grass and topped with wet burlap. The pit is then covered with a mound of earth that closes in the steam chamber that cooks the mescal. The mescal will cook for four days and on Sunday another blessing will take place, the tasting of the mescal. The community is invited to share in the tasting ``as a part of the Guadalupes becomes a part of us and our bodies,'' Rosacker said. The State Historic Preservation Office will recognize Nevadans for their contributions to historic preservation on Sunday. The award ceremony followed Archaeological Awareness and Historic Preservation week, May 9-15. Popular anthropology Professor Dennis Van Gerven urged 3,850 graduates at the University of Colorado at Boulder on Friday to pay attention to their whole life, not just their work life. Van Gerven is known for his lively classroom presentations and his cache of Nubian mummy skeletons, which he uses frequently in anthropology lectures to demonstrate how clues to societies are locked in well preserved bones.,2107,49393-79561-564187-0,00.html Two years after an Internet hoax attributed a fictitious commencement address to Kurt Vonnegut, the novelist has used its most famous line. "I hope you are all wearing sunscreen," Vonnegut, 76, said Saturday, drawing laughter from 140 graduates at Agnes Scott College. More than 3,000 relics of the Old West will go on the auction block this month as Mexia resident Jan Harrison liquidates the massive collection of six-shooters, gambling gadgets and western wearables he spent almost four decades amassing. Harrison said he's been unable to generate enough local interest and financial backing to keep his 10-year-old Mexia facility open, so he's decided to give other hardcore history buffs a chance to enjoy owning his artifacts. May 14 The President today announced his intent to appoint Kevin Gover to serve as a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Folklife Center. Gover, of Lawton, Okla., is a member of the Pawnee Tribe and has served since November 1997 as the Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs at the Department of the Interior. In 1986, he formed his own law firm in Albuquerque, N.M., specializing in federal Indian, natural resource, environmental and housing law. May 13 The President today announced his intent to appoint Parker Westbrook and Arva Parks McCabe as members of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation is an independent Federal agency which was established in 1966 through the Historic Preservation Act. The Council advises the President and Congress on national historic preservation matters, assesses the effectiveness of state, local, and private programs in carrying out the purposes of the Act and makes recommendations on how to improve the National Historic Preservation Program. In addition, the Council reviews federally licensed projects that affect properties listed in or eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. Its members are also responsible for issuing the President's Historic Preservation Awards. Taos Pueblo has been home to Tiwa-speaking Indians for at least 800 years. Parts of the adobe structures still in use by the 150 full-time residents were constructed before Spanish explorers arrived in 1540, and it is thought to be among the oldest continuously inhabited communities in the United States. The ruins of old San Geronimo Church -- built in 1619, burned in the Spanish Revolt of 1680 and later rebuilt only to be destroyed again in the 1847 war with Mexico -- can be seen near the Pueblo entrance. It seems that Sister Marie de Jesus Agreda's claims of astral travel to faraway lands didn't charm the reactionary inquisitors of 17th-century Spain. Accused of practicing witchcraft, she was placed on trial--until, that is, some Spanish explorers returned from North America with amazing tales of Native Americans who had already been converted to Christianity by a phantasmal "blue lady." Thus, Sister Marie was vindicated. According to the tale, the Blue Lady's travels took her at least within a 100-mile radius of San Luis Valley. A southwest Missouri man pleaded guilty Friday to a federal charge of plundering a 6,000-year-old archaeological site in the Mark Twain National Forest. Teddy D. Smallwood, 24, of Seligman, admitted in federal court that he violated the Archaeological Resources Protection Act. Under a plea agreement, a second charge of destroying government property will be dropped at his sentencing hearing, which is not scheduled. A co-defendant, Richard Harvey Tate, 34, of Bentonville, Ark., has pleaded innocent to the charges and will be tried June 7.