The traditional Ute word for the Great Sand Dunes is Saa waap maa nache, “sand that moves.” Jicarilla Apaches settled in northern New Mexico and called the dunes Sei-anyedi, “it goes up and down.” Blanca Peak, just southeast of the Dunes, is one of the four sacred mountains of the Navajo. While here at the Dunes, they collected the inner layers of bark from ponderosa pine trees, useful to them as food and medicine. This is the only grove of trees now on the National Register of Historic Places. For the people from the Tewa/Tiwa-speaking pueblos along the Rio Grande, it is a spiritual link. (

National Park Service, first 100 Years
Great Sand Dunes National Park, Colorado
Established September 13, 2004