When we moved to our current home high along side of the West Spanish Peak, I felt a strong compulsion to name it. After all, we have 35 acres and it is easy to envision a massive gated entry with a ranch like name overhead for everyone to see. I grew up with romantic ideas of old west wealth, watching television shows like Bonanza, The Big Valley and High Chapparral and the idea of branding my property excited me.
This is a magnificent forest. Short walks from our doorstep in any direction put us in the midst of wild beauty, which can especially be appreciated from the first hint of spring until late fall. During that season, babbling brooks meander through tall stands of Aspen and Pine trees and exotic vegetation and fungi. Insect and animal wildlife is everywhere around you. The spotting of deer, elk, coyotes, bear and large cats is expected although the presence of our three dogs limits those visitations. I can easily envision Native Americans hunting and living in peace and harmony on this land centuries ago.
After quickly eliminating ridiculous cliché’s and copycat names for my ranch, a quick google search for the Native American word for “place of peace” I dubbed the property “Manataka”. The story behind another place called Manataka is fascinating, heartbreaking and woven into U.S. history. Manataka was a magic place where many tribes of Native Americans met as one to celebrate the life given to them by a great creator. The description of a hidden valley filled with lush vegetation and warm healing waters makes me think of a Shangri-la or a Garden of Eden. It must have been quite an experience to make the pilgrimage to this site, despite perhaps great distance and difficulty, to experience Manataka.
Manataka is now known as Hot Springs, Arkansas. Generations have come and gone since the western migration of the United States quickly ended the very spiritual use of that land. Many bitter tears must have been shed over such a huge loss. The Native Americans never wanted to own Manataka, they simply wanted to be one with it. The idea of the grand entry to this place using the name Manataka is now absurd to me. I feel fortunate to have the opportunity to dwell here for a time. When this is no longer my home, I will find another Manataka.
Research on the subject led me to a great website: http://manataka.org/page2.html, please check it out.