I Am Alive

Our Worlds

After checking in at the motel we called Blackhorse again. He answered and was upset that we hadn’t just entered his house through the backdoor. He, of course, had our rooms prepared. Well, we arranged to meet for dinner at the ‘Three Rivers’ and he came down from Shiprock to discuss the coming days and to update us on the things that had been going on with the ranch and the family. After dinner we gave him one of the CDs that we had produced for him (thank you, Rob!) and he got real excited and happy. Phew, am I glad! Good night now, Sasha is off to dreamland.

(From When the Vast Sky Kisses the Planet)

Day 3, 05-06-02:

Vegetarian omelets for breakfast in a roadside diner. Meeting at Gerri’s house in Shiprock and immediate departure for the wedding location at Sweetwater. Gerri’s brother, Will, comes along for the ride in our car so that we won’t get lost on the dirt roads. Some miles outside of town, we pick up another brother who suddenly appears out of nowhere, sticking his thumb out. Three-quarters of an hour to the turning at Red Mesa and then 17 miles through the desert. The “road” looks and feels like a test track for caterpillars, sometimes sand drifts make us really nervous. Without a four-wheel truck, you are really pushing your luck out here.

Turn left, up the hill, down the hill, turn right and right again then straight towards the water reservoir … Dirt roads might be the last line of defense against the ultimate victory of civilization – bless them! We arrive at the site and are greeted by the usual native scenery: a Hogan made of insulation material and wood, a few little houses made of whatever material is available, a sweat lodge out in the sticks, a sheep dwelling, car wrecks and … heaps of little children, chickens, kittens, dogs, and puppies, freely roaming horses with their offspring, grandma plus relatives, and everything mixed up in a kind of serene chaos. Although lively nothing out here is neurotic.

The all-surrounding stillness of the rocks rules.

We receive our instructions for helping to prepare the place for the wedding. Many people are expected and there is enough work for an army. By the way: there is a mission of one of the countless (and all own the only truth ) Christian denominations a few miles down the road, and they have offered to help.

Imagine the humor of the situation of having Navajos order them around to clean up the place for a traditional wedding with drums and all … well, in exchange the kids have to attend a bible meeting in the evening.

Tom and I are going to interview them, hopefully.

After completing our chores, we head back – Tom does a great job steering us back to the highway. We arrive at Blackhorse’s house just as he is pulling up in his truck. He gets out wearing a dark suit (!), telling us to hurry because we are invited to dinner with the Dean and staff of Diné College in Farmington. So, instead of chilling out after a pretty hard day’s work, we break the all-time record in cleaning ourselves up and putting on our Trachten (traditional Austrian clothing). Still, we arrive late. Everyone is eating, and then we have to get up and introduce ourselves … but the all Navajo crowd is kind to us and even make some jokes at our expense – a good sign. To cut a long story short: important evening for the future of NativeNow! (a non-profit organisation) Let’s see what develops.

Upon arriving home, we briefly visit Ashley, Blackhorse’s grandniece, and I can finally give her the book I got for her and say thanks for the great picture she drew for me. She is 9 and a really bright young lady. Looking at the stars before going to sleep, the Big Dipper reminded me of home … Greetings to all, Shash.

Day 4, 06-06-02:

Rise daily with the first light to have breakfast and communicate with my host. Navajo tea, fruit, and yogurt. Walk outside to behold “the house made of dawn”. Fix the tire of the car today and attempt to have the house key duplicated – we have Blackhorse’s only key; subsequently, he is locked out if we are not in. The heat has intensified to the point of evaporating conscious thought, any movement is a struggle with gravity which I feel I am losing. Cannot get the second key copied. In approaching dusk, the grip of father Sun becomes gentle.

We set out in the truck to climb to the Mesa, to visit the ancestral land of the Blackhorse family clan. The land, any land, that is unspoiled by human exploitation speaks the language of creation, it is a lesson for those who care to listen, for those who are not yet dead. People have lived here without scarring the land, a few rocks in a circle the only sign of human presence. Abandoned Hogans, and almost invisible corn storage facilities nesting in the rocks.

Could we bring the water back? Could we learn about co-existence enough to bring a positive human element back to the land, return to the teaching?

Thoughts and dreams under the glistening dome of the night sky. Sending my thoughts to you, Shash.

PS: N. Scott Momaday, “The Man Made Of Words”: Language is the context of our experience. We know who we have been, who we are, and who we can be in the dimension of words, of language. Here is my own song:

I am a feather in the bright sky. I am the blue horse that runs in the plain. I am the fish that rolls, shining, in the water. I am the shadow that follows a child. I am the evening light, the lustre of meadows. I am an eagle playing with the wind. I am a cluster of bright beads. I am the farthest star. I am the cold of the dawn. I am the roaring of the rain. I am the glitter on the crust of the snow. I am the long track of the moon in a lake. I am a flame of four colors. I am a deer standing away in the dusk. I am a field of sumac and the pomme blanche. I am an angle of geese in the winter sky. I am the hunger of a young wolf. I am the whole dream of these things. You see, I am alive, I am alive. I stand in good relation to the earth. I stand in good relation to the gods. I stand in good relation to all that is beautiful. I stand in good relation to the daughter of Tsen-tainte. You see, I am alive, I am alive.


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Bird's_Feather_in_Flight Bird’s_Feather_in_Flight Louise Docker CC BY 2.0

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