Local music teacher Ryan Alexander Bloom’s has just published a book on the Tsankawi area of Bandelier National Monument.
The book is called “The Forgotten Side of Bandelier: Archeology of the Tsankawi Ruins At Bandelier National Monument.”Although Bloom has published three instructional books on drumming through Hudson Music, this is his first venture into this type of research.
Located on State Highway 4 some 12 miles from the main section of Bandelier, a 1.5 mile walk along a mesa gives visitors views of cavates, petroglyphs and the Ancestral Pueblo village of Tsankawi. Part of the trail consists of ladders and Bandelier information on Tsankawi warns that the trail is very exposed to the elements and should not be taken during localized thunderstorms.
Bloom, who has a degree in music from the University of Colorado-Boulder, has been playing the drums since the 90s. Between area schools and at home, he teaches drumming to some 40 students a week. He has played in a touring bands and been signed with a couple of record labels. He says music is his main deal but he is not really playing much in Los Alamos.
Bloom was prompted to write the Tsankawi after visiting the ruins and the main section of Bandelier several times.
“I was looking for more information. When you first go look at Tsankawi the pamphlet is pretty vague and there’s not a lot of signage so I went to the library and checked out a stack of books and looked through them. All I could find is a paragraph here and an image caption there. There’s really not a large consolidated source of information so I started reading up on it and realized there’s probably a hole here that I can fill if I’m having to do so much work to find information,” he said. “The more I knew about it the more interested I became.”
Bloom said to his knowledge, his book is the first time all the snippets about Tsankawi have been brought into one place.
“If you want to know what you’re looking at when you’re at Tsankawi or why you are there, it’s the easiest place to get all that information,” he said.
Asked how far back his book goes, Bloom said it talks about the geology of the volcano.
“So about 30 million years or so. I talk about Chaco Canyon a little bit and the country out there and how it ties into the plateau here. It mentions the rest of Bandelier and how they’re sort of related but at times sort of competing cultures actually or at least, they’re different,” he said. “It goes all the way up to how Cochiti Canyon claims descent from Frijoles Canyon whereas San Ildefonso claims origins in Tsankawi. They sort of went their separate ways. So basically all the way up to the modern day.”
Bloom said he enjoys the peace and quiet of Tsankawi.
“It’s incredibly calm out there. Unless you go on a super peak day when there’s really nice weather on a weekend, there’s nobody really out there. That’s the best part of New Mexico in general. It’s not that populated. When you’re standing out there on maybe a rainy day or a windy day, you can’t hear cars. Unless you go up to the edge, you can’t see the road, so you kind of feel like you’re in the middle of nowhere even though you’re right between the towns. It’s kind of fun that way. Just seeing the little footholds and the little narrow trails you can tell that your foot is going exactly where people’s feet went for hundreds of years,” he said.
Bloom’s wife Rose works at Los Alamos National Laboratory. The couple has a three-year old daughter, Vera.
The book is available in paperback at https://www.amazon.com/dp/1698971079/