Peridot is a small town on the San Carlos reservation. Emery is Apache, and he has a peridot mine. He invited us out one day to see his mine.
Looking north on the res, you can see the mountains that designate the edge of the White Mountain reservation. Welcome to the Apache Nation.
Emery mines peridot, a precious stone found only in a few areas on the planet. The largest source is the San Carlos reservation.
The reservation is barren. No gold, no silver, no copper – there was little reason for white settlers to lay claim to this land. If peridot had any value in the 19th century, I suppose they would have found another location even more barren to relocate the “natives”.
To stake a claim, an Apache must have the approval of the tribal elders. That means he must be in good standing with the tribe.
Emery mines the mineral, and then sells it to buyers that cut it into stones. As part of the wheeling and dealing, he gets finished stones back. His wife and daughters then create jewelry.
It is hard, back breaking work. The veins lay feet beneath the surface. Mining is done with pick axe and hammers.
Geologists agree that peridot is not from this planet, but rather left over from meteor strikes. Peridot has been found on the moon and Mars. A good vein will provide the mine owner with a source of income for their family and for the workers that he employs.
Peridot is usually found in a granular state and is easily frangible. Pieces large enough to be but into gemstones are rare.
Emery gifted us with fist sized chunks or peridot. None were gemstone quality, although he said if I broke them open I might find a keeper.
Emery invited Liz and the late George Johnston to the mine. I tagged along. It was George’s first visit; less than a year later George went on to meet his maker.
The mine was simply huge holes dug into the ground. If a vein is found that is deeper than a few feet, Emery rents an excavator and digs down to the vein. Then he offers use of the excavator to other Apaches that have nearby mines. The enterprise is founded upon trust and community. Maybe a lesson to be learned?
As part of our trip, Emery took us for a drive through Peridot. He is a devout Lutheran. When he is not attending to his mine he is volunteering at the church. I was surprised at the many denominations represented on the res.
On our return trip home, we stopped at the Drift Inn Saloon in Globe for burgers and drinks. We took George Johnston home, and that was the last road trip we took with him.
In my life I have lived in many states. The move to Arizona has been the most educational and productive. Summers with 120 degree heat may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it is a move I have yet to regret.