Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Hair Wash

Hair wash
as time goes by
it is the way certain things smell
or a scent
that steals you away
and takes you back

i remember
long black hair
a young Indian woman
standing next to me

it was the smell
of a sweet shampoo
hair wash
i remember

she stood close 
so close
i could feel her
take each breath

her hair was long
her skin so soft
like soft down

i had never noticed
this before
and yet
i knew it was so.

when she moved
ever so slightly
i could feel her 
through all of me
coming off her

the mere touch of her
was like lightning
so close
i felt every part of her

she stood there close
turning her head every so slightly
i was looking into her eyes
i could see
the lines of her brown tan face
the soft shadows and light
on the gentle slope of her neck
the sunlight and turn of her chin
the shine of her cheekbones

her lips were soft
and tender
a small smile.

who was this Indian girl?
she was for me a gift
sent on a rainbow
a blessing from Mother Earth
a child of many
native women of these lands

she was a child of soft wind
a native of the
everything in it

she was in an instant
Changing Woman
and yet
she was just right there
just standing there
a woman
but she was more than that

i stood there next to her.
looked into her eyes
they were bright
full of life
yet dreamy
in a way as if she
stood away on a distant hill
looking far off
as if trying
to see
into my eyes
and further
into my soul.

she said nothing
but her eyes
spoke to me
i looked into them
she was asking me
are you the one
from my dream

the one
to take me away
and yet
let me be all that I am
and want to be
is it so
that you will care for me
and forever
touching me now
like this
all the rest of my life

i could see
the light dance
in the depths of her eyes
and there was
a glimpse of her heart
and beyond
that of her soul

she was saying without making a sound
if I should stumble and fall
will you help me
will you be there to support me and
if i should not be all that I am today
will you still care for me
when this softness is gone?

someday if i become lame
would you still stand beside me
in the good and bad 
as there will be times
when things get hard...

will you stay with me still
in the darkest hours before dawn
when I find myself
abandoned and alone

will you find me
as we are tied to one another
with a bond so delicate
woven in the depths of our hearts
made of the sunlit fields and flowers
winter storms and lightning

will this tie
bear the strain of slow days and dark nights
when we cannot find one another
yet bound
we reign it in and
find ourselves again.

standing there with her
I could see all these things
in her eyes
put my lips to hers
with that gentle touch
let her know

yes, i am the one
let it be me
and would say
come and stay with me a while
until there is no more tomorrow..

when we are withered
and beaten
by life’s battles
and the storms
have left us spent

i will still be here with you
and that is all there is
and nothing more

come with me
my young maiden
rest here with me

all I have to offer
is this gift of
and soul

i offer you
and hope
that would be enough…

standing so close
and in touching

there is

it is but a little while
as we taste life
this bond has no end

all this comes
from just one
sweet smell
a faint scent of
hair wash


Thursday, April 24, 2014

they run for us...

Running Wild and Free

 Long ago the natives here were all wild and free, going anywhere they wanted and did so with Spanish horses that became a part if each tribe’s life. Those days of wandering came to an end as each tribe and peoples were slowly put on reservations one by one until those days of freedom were gone. The spirit of defiance lives on and desire to roam free is often spoken about in the legends and stories of our peoples. In some ways the eagles flight and the wildness of the wolf are a part of our culture as much as the bear and mountain lion as well as any wild animal that goes about our lands and their right to exist wild and free is much a part of the story of native America.

It was a few years ago now, it was Spring. The Bureau of Land Management had set up a wild horse roundup in Eastern Utah. I was doing some work on the boundaries of Indian lands in the heart of an old reservation that was part of a tribe’s jurisdictional land and in federal court between the tribe, state and in dispute over land, water and it’s resources.

I was doing some work in the field with the cadastral survey crew of the BLM looking at reservation boundary lines and title search work which was chasing paper here and there. It was during this time in the field that I found myself one morning riding out with the wranglers who would be catching and rounding up the wild horses and mustangs for their adoption program. There has been much made of these horses, some believe that these wild horses needed to be removed from the land because of overgrazing and inbreeding. Others believe that they should stay where they are and run free. I am not sure about the debate but I guess someone should ask the horses I heard one person say.

 I found myself riding out with Chuck, he was pleasant sort of guy and we headed to a place known as Moon Water Point, way out in the middle of nowhere with undulating hills that dropped into the valleys and canyons surrounding the Green River some fifty miles north of Green River, Utah on the Uintah and Ouray Reservation. The wranglers were private contractors, and some were employees with the BLM, the rest were from the Ute Tribe Fish & Game Department, they were easy to tell because they were Indians. Everyone was anticipating the round up. I had heard that a helicopter was out early that morning gathering the horses.

 We had been on the road for about 21/2 hours over a long windy dirt road when we got to Moon Water Point. The trucks and trailers used by the wranglers were off the hill out of sighe and we parked there in the brush and walked up the hill to the top of the bench. On top there was a brush line setup in a V to funnel the horses into a make shift corral that had three sides dropping of the bench like a cliff dropping off steeply and the brush hid a portable fence set up to hold the horses.

 The guys there had been there for a few days gathering the horses and were set to catch them there. I spoke with the Ute cowboys there and they were a hardy stock, rough and ready. I have heard they pride themselves as horseman, those Utes, I did not hear anyone say it, but they seemed to know the animals and this area was their land. In speaking with them some did not agree with the roundup of these horses. These were the last remaining part of them, their people that represented their former life as the People of the Shining Mountains who were born on horses and roamed all over these lands from Denver to Salt Lake. I could sense their feeling but they were there to do a job and so they were waiting for the horses to get there.

Everyone mounted up and headed out moving off the bench to the North and in the distance you could hear the herd of wild horses coming this way. You could see them off in the distance, kicking up the dust and running through the sagebrush, they were running in groups of 2 and 3 with others of 4 and 5 running alongside. You see they travel and live in small groups to be able to forage the high and low areas for food. 

There were groups of 4 and 5-year-old stallions eager to make a place with the herd but they cannot live together and so they break off in small groups, each having his own band. The helicopter was chasing them from behind and they were all running together. They were assorted colors, magnificent, their legs flying and moving with a grace of years of running rough sagebrush and these lands. This was their place and we were the interlopers. Their nostrils were flaring, their manes and tails blowing in the wind. There must have been 35 to 40 of them coming.

 They came and ran up by us onto the bench at full speed, galloping past with a beauty and grace that took me back a hundred years and then we were in the chase, behind them. The horses we were on got caught up as kindred spirits, losing their domestication to go with the herd their roots, to be wild and free.' The horses went into the V, the funnel. The lead stallion was black, a large horse, beautiful in his long strong strides, he led them in. The group was going full tilt, all of them went in. The guys hiding in the brush gate quickly closed the gate behind them, the horses were corralled. There was a quarter mile of room in there for them to settle down.

 The lead horse didn't slow down and we all watched as he continued to run to the edge of the point to where the land dropped off. All of the horses were running behind him at a full gallop. What was he doing, he was going to fall off, straight to his death and take some of the others with him. The enclosure was opened and the wranglers took off after him to rope and cut him from the main group. We were watching and could not believe it when he jumped off, one by one the whole group went over the edge. A sick feeling came over as I saw this, it would be a sad day this day tosee all of them lying at the bottom of the drop. There was a 35 to 40 foot drop to the bottom. I could see horses with broken legs and all sorts of things went through my mind.

 When we rode up the edge and looked below the last of the group was bounding over the cliff, leaping to a large rock standing apart a ways from the drop and it was to here they had jumped using the rock as a way to jump halfway down and then bouncing off it as it were to drop to the valley below without breaking stride. There was no pause and they were running not a one injured or hurt, all had made it. I stood there with those Ute wranglers.

The guys from BLM were all cussing those horses and talking about the craziness of them. The Indians to a man stood there apart quietly watching them. All of us looking and without saying a word our hearts were running along with them as they escaped into the canyons below. They were running wild and free.

 It is not all of the story there is this...

 One of the native cowboys there, a Ute I have known for many years since high school as he came to Toadlena as a Mormon Missionary, it was the last area of his mission and he was young then. I got to know him way back in the sixties. He liked to play basketball and was a jokester but was also a rough and ready sort of guy. He had served a two year mission and was headed back to Fort Duchesne. I remember him because when he was going home he put his clothes in the back of a pickup truck, his black suit up on top and as the truck was headed north toward Shiprock the zippered suit bag flew out the back and was gone.

He just laughed and said, my time is up and so are my days of wearing suits, he was a native cowboy. I have known him for years and visited with him many times. It was him years later who said to me, we are doing a horse roundup you should join us. We spent some time together in the camp just sitting down before a fire and talking about things, some about his mission and also about the changes we had seen but I felt privileged to sit with him and other Indians there around the fire as they sang some of their Indian songs.

 I heard that he was in poor health and was put in the nursing home and on my way to a place further North I went to see him. He was still an ornery guy gruff in his ways but that was his exterior. We sat for a little while and we talked about the small things that men often do when they get together and we also remembered this time and spoke about it. We sat there and remembered how the horses went off the cliff and ran away into the canyons and he said to know those horses are still out there, they run for us....




Yahdahlah-there is no groceries, no grub, what we going to eat? 
don't know Chei, we got no more food. 
Yahdahlah, no potatoes, no beans, no flour...what is there to eat.
There are some noodles in there, those old kind, old fashioned ones.
Yahdahlah, how come there isn't any food. No one is working, the old man lost his job...we got no food. Yahdahlah, what about the commodity food place in town, they have food.
The old man won't go in to the place, won't take any handouts, won't go to any churches, or relief agencies, either, he won't ask for anybody's help.
Yahdahlah, what are we going to eat, shoes, maybe the cat, maybe something else.
We don't know what we are going to do, he doesn't know how to go about it, to ask for help.
Yahdahlah, where is he! He went to town to pawn the car battery. He left a little while ago.
Yahdahlah, he
It was a long ways to town.
He is too proud Chei, to ask for help, maybe to embarrassed I guess.
He don't believe in any handouts, wants to hold his head up in the chapter house, he won't let us go in and ask for help
Yahdahlah, how we going to survive then.
We don't know, somehow we will get by he says.
The Old Man knew his son had gone for help and they told him, No assistance for you, you can work, got find a job and make some money...but we can buy you a ticket to Las Vegas...that's what the state told him...
The cold winds blow and the Chei watched as his son went on to town, wondering how they were going to make it.
There is no work, nothing on the rez to make a living at, how do you feed your kids this way, these are hard questions.
Some things have to get done no matter what and one of those is food...
Yahdahlah Chei thought, what a fix this is...


The Road Leads Away From Home...

The times are hard and the long walk is a part of life…

It was on the road to Shiprock, the narrow trail of black asphalt that winds it's way to the horizon, along this path over time the footsteps and sound of horses have been muffled by the wind and sage.

Way beyond the sight of any road in the cleft of a hill, there sits a small wooden house with an old green roof. In that place the sights, sounds of laughter, children and work made life easy.

Hauling water,
cutting fire wood
waiting to go school before the early light of day,
watching the sun rise and set
laying a trail of colors from blue, to black, gold, yellow, pink and Navajo red.

In the silence of the open road the voices, songs of old come to mind.
Sitting listening to the old men, and the old women as they spoke of things that happened before my life began, when there were no chidis-cars on the road.

In silence I pass the place called Burnham Junction and head South to Albuquerque through Gallup, and looking west I can see the place of my births, the line of my father going back. There is no one there now, the place is empty, the wind howls and it is cold outside.

Who will know the stories of the people there, the times and winter sings? Tell me Grandfather where this road I travel will lead, it has taken me far from home and in passing here I see but glimpse of light on the horizon.

Where does it go?

Twin Heroes, sitting at the head of the earth, Navajo Mountain, can you see me run along the edge of the horizon, looking for a place to rest. The cold wind blows, and is just before early light. I drive on and my heart cries for the home I have left behind.

It is there just over the hill. I want find the beauty way, and it is beyond my sight, where does this road go. It goes to places foreign and I long to turn around but the days light says you have to go beyond the horizon to survive…so I go on…..

The times are hard and so we go where we have to go to find work and for some they will leave and never come home....too far, too much work, not enough time or bucks to get back and so they head out from the has always been so....but the longing to go home remains...


Denver the Day Before the Columbus Day Protest...

The Day Before the Columbus Protest In Denver The basement of the old church building is used for get together hall; it is at Fifth and Bannock in Denver. On Friday there was little paragraph in the Rocky Mountain news about the Four Winds Survival Project in the morning paper, so being in the area I went to check it out.

The front door was locked and a side door to the basement didn’t look very promising as I grabbed the handle and pulled at it, but it gave way and there was the smell of frybread when it opened. Inside there were four older Indian women, there were three Lakota from South Dakota and one Dakota from Missouri. They had just finished cooking dinner, Indian tacos.

They looked like they had lived a hard life, no smiles from any of them. There was protest planned against the Columbus day parade on Saturday, some flyers were on the table. “We’re gonna feed about 300 people after the protest tomorrow”, one said. “You know I was at the Knee for seventy some days during the takeover” another said, “AIM was really active then. We don’t know how many for sure is gonna be there tomorrow.”

 Two younger women came in from outside, they were laughing and talking in the lilted way of the Northern Plains Indians, “Oh, geez, watcha girls got cookin’ anyways?” They looked around and sat down. They looked at the flyers on the table.

 “There is a Indian Education conference over to the convention center, we took some flyers over. There was a lot of Indians over there, we told them we had Indian tacos for lunch, selling it at $4.00 a plate, you know, thinking maybe some of them would show up here.”

“Well, where are all the skins?”
“None of ‘em showed up,” the one from Missouri said, “Maybe they’re running late.”

The clock on the wall said 12:30. “We’d like to eat, Louise, but we ain’t got no bucks Honey till tomorrow."

"We’re headed down to a temp job place at Five Points, they got sometin’ going tomorrow at the stadium, said they’d pay 10 bucks an hour, we just need to wear black slacks.”

“Where have you guys been, we haven’t seen you around?”

“We just got out, got tossed in down on skid row. We got carried away with the party. Man, you shoulda seen us!”

The three Lakota women retreated back to the kitchen, as the two young ladies talked.
“Are you going to the protest tomorrow?” one cook asked.

“I want to go, been going for twenty years!” said one. Her features were rough from having been in a number of fights, her face was scarred.

"I just got back from Wounded Knee, spent six months at home. It was hard there, had to cut my own wood, stayed by myself out there four miles from the Knee. That old place is pretty good, the only thing holding it together is the paint"

:Geez, it ain’t no fun being there by yourself. My daughter is married and lives in Yuma with her main squeeze, so I came back. I got to work though, need some cash and it’s gonna be easy work, maybe six, eight hours, I don’t know., but I need the bread. So this year I ain’t going to be there.”

“Do you guys, want to eat?”

“Sure, can’t turn down free food, living on the streets is tough, but it’s good on the legs, no salt, not butter, tough like the old Indians. Maybe we can hang up some of these posters for you guys, spread them around downtown.”

The food was brought to them and they continued to talk. ”We can help you guys out, put these out.” 

“Where you gonna put them?”

 “We got places, but then if we put them in bars, a bunch of drunk skins might show up, start fighting with the Italians, all hell break loose, everybody get tossed in.”

“One year Van Morrison came and bailed everybody out. Everybody got out of jail”

“Not this year, the way it is nobody can yell around, run into the street, lay down in traffic, stop the parade. Nobody can say anything.”

“What? Nobody can say nothing. No drum, no screaming.”

 “None of that stuff.”

“Oh man, we gotta go, gotta make sure we find out about the job tomorrow.” Said the one from Wounded Knee.

“My partner, her old man is getting out of prison tomorrow, so we got other things to do, first time we won’t be there. but we will take a few of these posters and put them up.” The two young ladies left.

The lady from Missouri River, she said, “This center is a place for a lot of people, they get a chance to get together here, we let anyone come. We set workshops for regalia, quilt making, support groups.”

 “How do you guys get your funding”

“We get a little money from the Lutherans and Methodists, but it is not enough, it is real struggle sometimes to get things paid each month. Every month is a trial for us, we don’t know how we make it, but we do, just barely.”

She offered a refill of coffee. “My left leg has been bothering me, if I can get someone to take my place tomorrow with the serving I am going to stay home, I’m 54, but sometimes it’s a struggle to just be here, but this place has saved me. We have a meeting every Sunday upstairs, a drum group comes in and we sing, and there is a prayer. Not like a regular church service but Indian way of praying.”

Another young lady comes down the stairs from outside. “ I smell food.” They tell her they are selling Indian tacos, they made it for the Indian Education conference people but no one showed up from there, so there is a lot of leftovers.

“ I will take six order to go she says.”

 “We trying to get ready for tomorrow, but we don’t have any beans, do you know where we can get someone to donate some beans so we can cook ‘em.” the lady with the sore leg says.

“You know I just have a couple of bags in the car. My Mom told me to come by and check to see what was going on, we were going to use them ourselves, but she told me to come by and check, good thing I did, let me go and get them.”

The cook followed her outside. The coffee was finished and sitting there took a look around the room.

There is large picture of a group of Indians, a picture maybe 5 feet across on the wall with out a name, untitled. No one knew when or where it was taken, except that it was from the last century.

There was also a small picture of black church congregation near it, also old. There are a few filing cabinets with items for craft and regalia making and anything else that they need store from time to time.

A young Indian man with long hair came in, also a child of the streets. He had somehow gotten a pair of new Nikes that were on his feet. The three remaining cooks came out to look at them. They told him those shoes sure looked good on him.

They served him up a plate of food and he sat down to rest and eat. I cleared my place, told them it was a pretty good meal and walked out the way I had come in.

Before I left they told me...."Brother there is a place in Denver where the cold winds don’t blow come back and see ue. You get a chance to step out of the snow."

The women there have seen a lot of people come through those doors and will offer anyone a cup of warm coffee that hits the spot. They in turn will sit and listen to your story and wish you well when it is time to head back out on to the streets of Denver.


Moenkopi Wash and Kayenta...

The Peabody Coal Mine closed and people are worried about the loss of jobs and so on. That is what has been in the news of late. I ran into a Tewa friend from Second Mesa and we had lunch and while we chewed the fat, he looked at me. He is about 60 or so and his hair is going gray, he spoke about the Bean Dance this past weekend held in Hopiland. He was one of the dancers and told me i should have been there it was a good dance. We talked about a lot of things, one of them being Havasupai since we have both been there in the canyon at one time or another. You have to either walk the 8 miles in or you can go in by helicopter if you have the big bucks. We both walked in. We spoke about how the river comes out of the canyon wall, the water flows straight out from the wall and not from the ground above it like a regular water fall. There are natural pools of cold water that look like steps you can wade in at the foot of the falls. He spoke about listening to the Supais sing their songs and how he had heard those same songs in a kiva at Hopiland and knew them, and sang along with the men singing and they were surprised he knew their songs. He laughed a little when he spoke about this. We talked about a lot of things sitting there for lunch which went from noon until three. We had our fill of iced tea and then some. The thing that caught my attention was the smile that crossed his face as he said, "You know the water is flowing again in Moenkopi Wash like it used to a long time ago when I was a boy, it is flowing now you can see it, The children have never seen it flow like that and over in Kayenta the water flows across the land again too. It is a good thing to see. I sat there and listened to him and could see it as he said it and I thought you never hear this from the news or the paper, the politicians from both tribes don't mention it, just the loss of jobs and future economic loss. But I can say that we smiled and laughed to hear that the waters flow again after being dry for so many years. They flow like they used to flow centuries before the mine came along and that was good news, yes it was good to hear for both a Hopi and a Navajo... rustywire

Do you want to dance?

do you want to dance?
to hear the tunes on the radio beating out loud,
the sound of it is all you need to hear.
do you want to dance with me, come on say yes,
just a take a minute step away from the board
turn the sound up listen
you will travel on angels wings and hear the voice of a songbird and
in this you will come back with me through all the years
to when we were young and free
oh how sweet it is...
step into it, \
the song will carry you away to places you know,
to a time when the world was fresh and new,
where hearts and love is eternal dreams all come true,
just a step away is all it is...
come on do want to dance with me?
I offer you my hand,
it is here waiting for you
just reach and take it
I will be here forever for you
in the voice of a sweet song,
touch me is all I say and I will be yours forever.
Gently look away and close your eyes
there on a distant star there is a place in the heavens
yes, I will dance with you and
it is just a touch a simple touch and
it will change the world and the universe forever.
look up high see the night sky
a place known only to us
we dance the night away
all the while listening to the sound of our hearts
the beat of our lives,
all the good times running in and out
leaving us to dance the night away
all this from taking a moment in time
to step into eternity
where we can dance forever
to the songs we hear...
in this place I will always be waiting for you
when I am tired and blue
all I have to think of is you
a moment to see you standing just right there
waiting for me, always there a moment away...
do you want to dance with me?
 see what happens
when you take a little night sky,
 a radio and a quiet night,
ah yes ..


Hair Wash

Hair wash   as time goes by it is the way certain things smell or a scent that steals you away and takes you back i re...