Across the United States, there have been many sightings of water monsters.  New York, Vermont, Indiana, Montana, Idaho, California, Arkansas, and New Mexico: each has its own story.

Avanyung lives in a marshy spot between Santa Clara Pueblo and Espanola…or at least it used to.  Up until the late 1960s, pueblo people regularly reported sightings of this very large water monster with a horse-like head, horns, and a snake-like body. Then it abandoned its small hollow. The retreat of Avanyung back to Posongeh (the Rio Grande) signaled bad times, the withdrawal of the promise of rain for the land, a possible predictor of our current situation.

Avanyung has the form of flowing water and can dwell in watery places on land or underground. It connects earth to sky; it joins opposites. Clouds and moving water are associated with its being. The Posongeh flows from where Avanyung first emerged from the underground. The two merge as one movement of water and Avanyung.

The hope is that Avanyung and Posongeh will again share motion, grace, and blessings to the land and the people along the Rio Grande.

Adapted from the writing of Rita Swentzell, Santa Clara Pueblo available in “Rio”, Edited by Savage, M., deBuys, W. University of New Mexico Press, 2016.