I Continue my Traditional Studies

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And here it is as it is, you heard the story. Is anyone in charge awake? Or is it still not clear to people that we are in for some major changes?! If the idiots in charge were only destroying their own live,s it wouldn’t be so bad, but what about the children and those who cannot hide out in villas, and force or buy their way out of trouble?! Man, wise up, and read the signs. My anger does not help, we shall prepare for ourselves and those who wish to live.

(From: Man, Wise Up and Read the Signs)

Day 11, 13-06-02:

Heard the morning-rumbling in the kitchen, and decided to sleep a little longer. The long night drive had done me in. Heading down to the Trading Post to check out George, the silversmith. He is there, and I take an immediate liking to him.

Because there is no chance for a quiet conversation at his place of work, he takes us to his home a few miles up the road. We inform him about the basic structure of the planned workshops, tell him what he can expect of Austria. He then takes us into the back room to show his work.

Silver, brass, copper, semi-precious stones, bracelets, rings, chains … His style is contemporary as well as classic, and he also does all sorts of repairs. He told us that he also has access to antique jewelry, and might take it along for presentations. All in all, we feel comfortable about him coming and hope that enough people back home are interested, and understand that these craftsmen are real, not storybook Indians who come to Europe to cash up, drink up, score white women and dance in fake outfits.

We feel like getting out of the Rez for a bit and suggest a trip to the cinema in Farmington. “Spiderman” … for guys who like the Spiderman stuff … to refresh childhood memories. Garrett, the weaver, and Blackhorse come along. I travel in Garrett’s little blue car, we discover that our birthday is on the same day (eleven years apart), listen to the most beautiful recording of prayers/songs (plus a Navajo version of the national anthem) and he asks thousands of questions about my home.

The movie is, well, American action mush. But the veggie burgers that follow it are good – compared to the rest of the garbage one is forced to digest here in public restaurants. We are getting strange looks everywhere we go. It is not common in this place to hang out with Indians. The star spangled banner is hanging everywhere. On my way to bed, I have to think about strategies for a change … Have an honest heart and a healthy body, I guess … and get enough rest! Shash

Day 12, 14-06-02:

Waking up to another day of a fast-rising desert sun, sandy wind, and no chance of rain. We were told that many families have to sell their livestock (cattle, sheep … ) at very low prices because they would otherwise starve to death. Given that the climate returns to normal soon, it will still take up to 10 years until the pastures recover, and livestock can be raised again. Only when you know how closely the traditional Navajo lifestyle is tied to animals can you imagine the tragedy of the current situation. But the native people have withstood near extinction and will survive.

After finishing our daily update, Tom heads out by himself to visit Barney. I stay with Blackhorse in order to make travel arrangements for my return home and to continue my traditional studies.

In the afternoon we visit aunt Rosi and uncle Raymond (he was one of my patrons at my initiation last year). They are really good at doing business, both are exceptional at their crafts. Rosi is in the process of finishing the most amazing quilt – with a fantastic native style eagle as an ornament stitched in the middle. They are generally sweet people. Rosi goes off to get a big bag of Navajo tea for Lisa and myself, and Blackhorse refuses to let me pay for it. We drive down to Farmington and rent a car so I can pick it up when I need it to go to Phoenix next week.

The day runs by fast with Blackhorse telling me stories about my extensive adopted family and various aspects of Navajo history and present. Hopefully, there will be the opportunity sometime in the future to share these insights with you in more detail. Much of it could and should be of interest to us since much knowledge about this world has been lost to our culture.

On our drive, Blackhorse hits the brakes hard time and time again. We pull over and stop to pick plants that are growing next to the highway. They make a great healthy tea when dried, cleaned and properly prepared. Hey, I need to finally find out about the stuff that grows on our soil at home.

We go for a walk as the air cools off a little. “Ears”, one of the sheepdogs (he is missing his left ear), runs along and proves to be a most amusing companion. We walk passed trickles of bitter water in creeks that used to be the last supply, surrounded by dusty salt brush. Fridges, TVs, old cars, and tons of empty beer bottles behind every little hill and all over the dirt road. Since the power line, delivering electricity to L.A. and Vegas, runs through the grazing lands, the roads used for maintenance have become delivery routes for junk. After dumping their shit, the careless assholes open their beers, take their drugs, and party until they swerve back into town. Hardcore native living, the reality on the sacred lands.

I am getting tired earlier and earlier every evening. The heat wears you out. We receive a call informing us about the death of G’s grandmother. That means that the puberty rite planned for Ashley tomorrow (including sand painting) has to be delayed for several weeks. She wanted me to be there, so we are a little sad that I will be missing it. But traditional laws are laws. I have to admit that I will be happy to be home again, I am thinking about you … Sleep well world, Shash.

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