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 ..



How do you say Nah--Ge--Bah?

The Ge has a G sound) It was the time of year for joy and thanksgiving, but Ashie was concerned about how to make payments on this months bills, and with Christmas coming there was not enough money to cover the rent even, and there still was the light bill to go.

The kids were looking forward to Christmas but he thought I wish it had already gone by. He was far from home, this native to Four Corners and from time to time he would look to the South at the horizon, beyond that is where home really was, in the nestle of red rocks, cedar trees and dusty roads. He had not been home since his mother had suffered a stroke and the boys, his three brothers and him decided to board up the house.

It was more than a year ago, he got a call that his mother had been found on the floor at the house and was flown from Shiprock to Albuquerque. He drove all night and got there after they had operated on her at the Hospital at the University of New Mexico.

He stayed there with her. that she might know his voice and come back.She just laid there, all her gray hair was cut off. He did not recognize her with her hair all gone. As a boy he watched her comb her hair out, early in the morning. She was careful to pick up all the loose ends and put them some place safe lest they fall into the wrong hands. She took care of her hair and kept it up in the bun all day, tied up traditional style. 

Now she just laid there with no hair and did not move. He stayed as long as he could sleeping in his car in the parking lot and pawning his belt buckle and some silver jewelry to get back home. His boss had let him off and paid him for two extra weeks while he was gone, but since his job as a trucker paid no benefits; he was in debt to his boss and could not visit her anymore.

Nahgebah was put in a long term care nursing home and moved to Phoenix, his brothers and he had decided that was best, because the good hospitals were down there. They boarded up the house and put away all the things in there, but they couldn't really touch the things in her room. Anyway he had a chance to drive a load to Albuquerque just before the holidays and it would be extra pay. He needed the money so he said ok. He told his wife and she wasn't too happy about it.

"What about Christmas, the kids are expecting….", but her voice trailed off because she knew as well they needed the money. She said, “I will think of something.’

Ashie said, “I wish I could give you a better Christmas than this but I have to make this trip.” It is a hard thing when you know that no matter what you do you can’t bring any more money home and this Christmas was going to be a bust. He went in to the kids’ room and touched his three children on the head as they slept. It was still night when he left.

 Ashie got to the truckers' yard and saw the dispatcher, got his paperwork and found a rig with a Cummins diesel. It was noisy but after it warmed up a while it purred like a kitten. He looked around and thought, looks like I am the only one here today. He put it in his gear and started to head out. The dispatcher Old Man Jenkins ran over to him and flagged Ashie down. He stopped.

The old white guy could move pretty good when he wanted to. He asked Ashie, “What is your cell number?” Ashie told him, “I don't have a cell phone. I will have to call you when I stop.” The dispatcher looked at him and did not say anything. Ashiea headed out and drove South looking for the freeway. In a few hours he would be looking for the red rocks of home.

It was the beginning of a new day, the earth was new in many ways and the early light of dawn was just beginning to reach its fingers to the west. He felt his pocket and the nub of deerskin that held yellow powder, corn pollen, Tah-Dah-Deen.

If he had a chance he would like to find some to refill it. He thought about the sunrise and as he did so reached into the small deerskin pouch taking a pinch of the yellow powder and offered a prayer.

"From my chest may the pollen of dawn help me to learn.”

He looked to the western horizon as he entered the freeway.

”From my back may the pollen of yellow evening light help me to learn.” 

He shifted gears the words came...

”From the soles of my feet may the pollen of whirlwind help me tolearn.”

He looked at the dawn in the east as the sky was pink and pale blue.

”From the top of my head reaching toward the sky, toward sunlight and blue birds, pollen help me to learn, so that I may walk and go along this way with it. Let these things I see help me to learn and let the pollen of wind touch my tongue and guide me in the proper way I should go.”

He stretched and sat up straight and breathed in the fresh air of a new day.

”Now restored to youth a little I can go about this day, pollen help me to learn how to walk in beauty this day." He repeated it again as he drove on down the highway.

Old lady Nahgebah was her name; she came into the extended care nursing home in Phoenix. She was on Medicare, long term and she became known as the Old Navajo woman in bed 6B.

Ashie remembered his brother telling him that day she had her stroke they had gone to Gallup and eaten at the All You Can Eat Chinese Place by the Old Walmart. That his mother Nahgebah didn't feel too good and thought it was just a long day. When she got home, she put her things away and went to the door to take a look at the sheep.

Her youngest son had left to go to Newcomb a place about 12 miles away. It was then that she felt strange and fell to the floor. Nahgebah woke up and she was in a strange place, half in shadows and half twilight. In the distance she could see the movement of people or something she couldn’t see them too good and could not reach where they were. She was on a mountain and they were across the valley and did not see her.

Who were these people, she tried to talk to them but they would look at her and say nothing. She watched them and some of the looked like monsters. Ashie drove South through the mountains. The roads were full of families headed to distant places to visit. Some had Christmas presents in the back windows of their cars and the kids would stick their arms out the windows and pump them up and down.

Ashie would reach for the string and the long sound of a diesel horn would bellow out and they would wave. All he could think about were his kids at home, who had woken up and found him gone. He knew they would get and go check the Christmas tree for new presents but there would be just one for each and then they would go to the kitchen for cereal.

Nahgebah thought it was a play that is what it looked like from where she stood. She saw a giant monster talking to a young Navajo woman while she was out gathering plant food from what looked like Lukachukai, a broad valley with a mountain rising up to the East.

This Navajo woman wandered at the foot of the mountain and gathered drop seed plants for soup. The monster came and she hid. The monster went by her and traveled on. She appeared to change shape and she moved to Canyon De Chelly, Spider rock and there she found a place and dwelt in it.

After a time the one who calls himself the Sun went into her place,he was there a long time and then he left. This woman came out and then found a place with dripping water and laid under it. When she did this Nahgebah could see this was Changing Woman. She was witnessing the conception of the twins, the father came and she conceived them. It was to rid the world of these monsters; she could see them in the distance wandering around. So this is how they came to be.

One child conceived with a powerful name, Monster Slayer. When this child was born there was a storm all around the place, there were dark clouds and lightning flashed clockwise starting inthe East then the South, then West and to the North in a clockwise fashion.

When the second child was born, there was just gentle thunder starting from the East. She stood there and watched this, and heard the names of these children, the first born to kill monsters, he was called Monster Slayer and the other for soft gentle dripping water, Child Born for Water. She could see them when they were small and when the monsters came to the place of the mother the boys were hidden. These monsters had heard there was a new force with power born but were not sure where it came from and searched all over for what it was but could not find it.

Ashie drove down through Ute Mountain and could see the spire of Shiprock to the South and felt at home, even with all his worries it felt good to see this place. It was not too far from home. He remembered then that no one was there anymore, just an empty boarded up place. Ashie remembered telling his mother when he as a child, "I will build you a house some day Shima". She would look at him and just laugh andsay, “Ok, we will see.”

He felt bad about the whole thing because he was the eldest son, the one in charge and life did not work out the way he wanted it to be. Now she was a vegetable in a strange place. Nahgebah could see the twin boys grow up in a short time as if by magic and they were strong, and quick. They could see her and she would wave at them and they would wave back. She could not tell how long she had been at this place but she was growing tired of it.

She looked to the East and could see some light and strained her eyes to see beyond it. The Twin boys grew in time at Canyon De Chelly and asked their mother who is sometimes called Spider Woman who their father was, after they asked four times she finally told them the Sun. This was the beginning of their journey and Nahgebah saw the story of it unfold before her eyes. Nahgebah saw, each one, the tests of going to the canyon where men get thrown from the rocks, the place where reeds cut like knives on those that crossed them, the crossing of a river that gets wider when you try to cross it.

She saw how the Wind became their ally and how they had the magic of traveling on a rainbow. She watched these boys grow and Nahgebah could see the light of day becoming better in the East.

Ashie turned off the road South of Shiprock and drove west to the base of the Chuska mountains. He was thinking that somewhere in an office in Reno, a guy was drinking coffee and looking at a computer screen watching a map with a little blip leave the road off the worn trail to Albuquerque. This guy was reaching for the phone.

Ashie smiled and was glad he did not have a cell phone, but the satellite box above his head mounted outside was telling on him,. He turned down that narrow ribbon of road and headed west anyway. An older Navajo woman herding sheep on a nearby hill at Burnham turnoff wondered what a diesel truck was doing way out here just before Christmas. The trading post was closed. This sheepherder woman thought where is that truck going. Ashie waved to her, but she just looked at him and he laughed about it to himself and drove own down the road.

Nahgebah could see the Twins approaching the Sand Dunes where when one walks it swallows you up but she felt the rush of Wind as it wentby her and it lifted them up and over the sand and she laughed to see it. The boys heard her and they looked at her. The Twins went on to the East.

She could see better and the sound of what was gong on outside started to come slowly. Nahgebah could see the Twin boys travel over the mountains, four of them and she could see them clearly. They went over the hill. She closed her eyes and could see them, she knew they were going to see their father at his place, a hogan hidden to the East and that he would test them to see if they really were his sons. She could see this in her mind. The big rig could not go beyond the turn by the trading post, so Ashie parked the big rig there and walked from there to the a little house to East of there.

The trader came out and wondered if maybe he forgot about a delivery there. Ashie just continued walking east waved and pointed to the East and walked on. The trader stood on the steps watching him pass the old Reverend Kay's place and walk toward the Natani's place and disappear into the cedar trees. Ashie could see the road into the place had not been used for a while and the house was still boarded up. He expected to feel at home, but it was like coming to an abandoned place.

No one had been there for some time, the road was little used. He was home but there was nothing there. He looked at the corral and it was empty. He closed his eyes and remembered all the family used to gather and visit; now they were all gone separated like blowing sand. No one was coming here for Christmas anymore. He walked around the place and then walked back to the rig, in four hours he would be in Albuquerque.

 Nahgebah could see that she was in a nursing home but could not talk. She had seen daylight and walked toward it from the place on that strange mountain and found herself in bed. She was weak, and did not know these people; she heard them call her the Old Navajo Woman in6B. She thought is this how it is to be old. Where are my children? Why haven't they come to see me?

 She thought I have to exercise, but did so at night in the quiet of it, moving every so slowly to get her legs and arms moving again. She did not talk to the people around her, but they could she was looking at them and they talked like she wasn't there. When she slept she could see the Twins, Monster Slayer and Born for Water, and she watched them in their travels.

She could see the medicines they carried, their lightning arrows of straight lightning, spotted lightning, and zigag lightning and their armor of flint that covered their heads, body and feet. The Twins would look toward her every now and then, but would not wave because they had outgrown such things. She was stronger now and she made her way to near where they were.

She heard them talking there. Their Father was saying, “This mush inside this basket is powerful, It comes from what was gathered in four directions. It is there and you have eat it a certain way,’ he said,.”If you do this you will be restored. It is from the pollen of what is called restoration, a restoration of youth and in beauty it is done. It will give you strength.”

She watched them as they ate this and after they had left saw the small morsels left behind. She felt she should eat it but then it was too powerful so she skimmed just the dew off it and tasted just a little bit of it and then left.

Ashie got to Albuquerque, the yard was closed, and he crawled over the fence and dropped the paper work in the door slot and unhooked the trailer and left it there. He drove on down to Central Avenue to the Tewa Lodge and got a room. It was almost Christmas. There was a bar not too far off, the Blue Spruce, he saw some Indian people standing outside and thought about going in there but then thought nothing good will come of it and fell asleep watching TV.

He did not call home because he nothing to say. He felt bad he had nothing for his family for Christmas and let his tired body carry him off to sleep…

 Nahgebah felt the hand of a young girl, a teenager. She had blue eyes, she was brushing Nahgebah’s hair as she was in bed and tied it in the back. Her hair had grown back. She could hear music, Bing Crosby playing down the hall.

It was early about breakfast time. Candy Stripers were delivering presents to the old folks there. Nahgebah got up and looked outside and saw the packages of clothes sitting on chairs and she took one back to her room. She moved around, she looked in the mirror and saw her hair was all white, and she dressed herself and looked down the hall.

One of the young girls forgot something in her car and ran out the door to get it, Nahgebah was right behind her. You could not tell she was in her 80’s. She moved quickly and walked to the bus stop. The bus came and it was free ride day. She told the driver she was going to the Phoenix Indian Hospital and needed to get there. The lady driver looked at her with tired eyes handed her a ticket and told her to sit behind her. She said, “I will let you know when you change buses.” Nahgebah sat down and looked around. Ashie waited for the terminal to open and it finally did and he got his papers for his return load. He called in and the dispatcher said he needed to call his sister in Phoenix, but he did not want to talk to her.

She had given him a hard time about putting their mother in a nursing home and had been mad at him for not visiting her. He triedto say he didn't have enough money but it did no good. He did not want to talk to her. He went looking for his load at the address he got and there was a sign on the gate that said, Closed for Christmas. He went back and got the same room for the night; he thought about calling home but it would only make him feel bad so he didn't call. He just watched TV. In the waiting room, an old lady with white hair sat down at the Phoenix Indian Medical Center.

When people came by she spoke to them. One young couple from Nageezi a community East of Shiprock was there and she spoke with them. She asked for a ride home.The young Navajo couple looked at her with suspicion. She told them she got out of the hospital and her family had no phone so she was trying to find a way home, it was on their way.

 After a minute or two the couple told her to come with them. She crawled into the back of their truck camper and they gassed up. They bought her a sandwich and pop and they took off, heading North through Payson and Showlow and kept going North. She fell asleep and she found herself on that strange mountain. Where is Ashie, his sister said on the phone to his wife. “I don't know”, she said, “ he is on the road and hasn't called.” “I need to get a hold of him, Mom took off from the nursing home. She is wandering around Phoenix somewhere. No one knows where she is. Do you know where Ashie is? I need to tell him.” his sister said. “No,” Ashie’s wife said. “All right, I am calling my other brothers and telling them what happened. If Ashie calls tell him what is going on.”

Ashie’s sister called her other brothers, one in Denver, one in Kansas City and one in San Francisco. She told them their mother was missing from the nursing home. All them were calling each other, “Where was Ashie?” The one in Denver decided to drive down and had just bought a new car. He thought about what to do with the old one. It was a good car and he thought to sell it but he decided maybe Ashie could use it and so he sent his son to take it to Ashie's wife and so they left to drive over Ashie’s house to check on them and then they would head South.

Nahgebah got off from the peoples truck she caught a ride with at Burnham Junction where a narrow ribbon of road headed west 16 miles to her home. It was early evening. She started to walk west on the highway to her mountain. She kept walking. No one was on the highway.

Nahgebah thought about the mountain and the places of home that were there in front of her. She thought about her people, of how they were taken to Fort Sumner on the Long Walk in 1864 and suffered there. They were broken hearted. They wanted to go back to the their land so bad, it was their life, it meant everything to them. She remembered when the Navajos heard they were free to go home they were so glad to be going home.

She remembered that when they had traveled and saw Mount Taylor one of the Sacred Mountains. They asked is that our mountain, and they said yes.The old people, the men and woman fell to the ground and wept at the sight of it they were so happy.

Nahgebah thought about her family scattered like the wind and yet she was here just a little ways from home, just right there at the base of the mountain. She remembered being a young girl, herding sheep, taking care of her grand parents and remembered all the places where they had lived. She wept at the sight of her mountain. She reached down and grabbed a handful of dirt, and it became corn pollen. She took it and offered to the wind and she could see from way off the place where her home was she was so glad to see it again.

She had not noticed but the Bitsillies had stopped and looked at her with wide eyes to see her way out there. She got in and she said she was on her way home.They could not believe it was her Nahgebah and she closed the door and they drove off. Ashie picked up his load and got a message to call home. He thought about it and tried to call home, but there was no answer, so he left Albuquerque early that morning.

The dispatcher said something about his wife asking him to go to the old place at Toadlena and to check it. The dispatcher told him, that his brother had said, “It was important Ashie go by there. They would meet him there. Ashie thought I wonder what happened. He had a worried look on his face and left heading down the road to Gallup his mind full of questions. He got to the Giant Truck Stop at Continental Divide and called home. There was no answer so he gassed up and headed west.

He got to Gallup and drove north. He thought to himself, I hope no one is hurt or something worse. He almost drove by the turnoff without turning. He thought I better head up the rond wait for them there. His mind full of questions. He pulled off the road and headed west. He drove up to the trading post and parked the rig got out and started to walk down through the cedars. He had walked this path many times as he grew up and knew Every rock and tree.

Even though times were hard he felt refreshed at being here where he was born in this land of His youth. He thought about how life had changed and now he Lived so far away since there were no jobs here. He was lost In this thoughts. It was then he could smell smoke from a pinon tree and it was from up ahead. When he stepped into the clearing where there place was he saw there were a lot of cars and trucks parked there. The house was open.

He could smell coffee and the boards covering the windows were all off. Just a few days ago this place was empty, no one was here. He walked to the screen door and could hear there was talking going on inside. Maaiis-Coyotes! he thought to himself, scavengers had moved into the house and were taking it over. Something was going on. Who is in there?

You leave something and Maaiis, coyotes move in and take it over. He thought about knocking but just walked in. He opened the door and there was the trader, and Rev. K, and the Bitsillies, and the old folks of the Upshaws, Belones, Deals, Jumbos and Tauglechees and some their grown children were in the front room and the table was covered with food. Ashie stood there and they all looked at him. He did not know what to say.

Then he heard a voice from the other room, it sounded like his wife. She said to Ashie,“Come Here!” What is this? What is she doing here. He stepped toward the sound of her voice and in the next room the beds were set up and a table, and his wife was there and his three kids. They were all giggling. There was Christmas tree, a makeshift decorated tree full of presents underneath. He was so surprised.

 There in front of him sat a woman with white hair, her back was all he could see. She had long white hair, tied up in the traditional way. She turned to him and it was his mother, Nahgebah. “Shima – My Mom!” He reached out and took her in his arms. How could it be. He just stood there and held her. They did not say anything, they couldn't, he just was so surprised and they all wept.

 In life what is as important is family. This is what makes us travel so far from early morning to late night, enduring hardship, hunger and some pain but the thought of home and all them there restores us.. Is there anything better than this? Nothing else matters, all else vanishes like a mist.

 He stood there and cried for a long while. Oh, Shima, my mother. It is a home again, and all those that were there laughed cuz it was a miracle in this out of the way place. In the Navajo way of saying it, she had made the journey home but in doing so she had caused her children to "run after her", SHI'KA' ANAJAH', That is what the word means word for word as in my children they are running along after me. It also has a double meaning it is a way of saying my children they are running to help me. but in running after her they in turn helped each other to get back home, to be together as a family.

In the quiet of the day mothers and fathers turn their thoughts to their children, what are they doing? Are they living right, are they helping each other. In helping another, like running after them to help they are in turn running to help themselves. That is what the translation means. a mother, a father prays that their children will continue to run after them and each other in learning about life and working together when they need help. 

Nahgebah in getting home she was causing her children to run after her and actually chasing after her but in doing so her children they had to run after each other to help one another. In doing so they had all followed her home and it was a joyous Christmas. So it goes the story of the old woman Nahgebah.


She Stands With Him At Dawn...

Early it was, twilight, the time before dawn. You could hear the sound of a hammer, like it was hitting an anvil. In the Cha'O -shadehouse, there was fire made from cedar that burned brightly giving off an orange glow lighting up the walls. He stood there, an old man in some ways his eyes looking at the besh la gai- silver, white metal he was hitting, there lay on a small table were files, and metal stamps. He picked one up and set it upon an imaginary line on the silver concho and lifting the hammer struck it. It hit with a solid sound of being worked and marked for all time. His steady hand placed these lines and he filed away, the silver dust covering his levis as he worked it. Outside the air was chilly, the cold time had come, the sound of thunder was gone, and in this early light there was dusting of white flakes, the first frost. He stood for a moment looking East and could see it, just a trace but enough. How is it the time of change comes, from summer sings to the coming of the yeibechei, the winter dance. The sound of a faint hoot was heard in the distance, he began to sing to himself, Neyezani is coming from that place Far off it is at the head of the earth off to the North coming with pine, animal fur and dancing around the firelight He turns and sits down once again, feeling the soft silver in his hands and pounds it out, it takes shape and as time passes he takes a soft cloth and rubs it against his leg, over and over again. In the faint light of dawn, the sun begins to change the twilight from dark blue to the colors of dawn. He slips the concho on a belt wit the others and it is finished, it is done. He steps outside the cha'o and in the blaze of pink and gold light with a touch of turquoise blue he holds the belt up and each concho matches the other, the chisel marks and stamps have made their mark, it is ready. The blue bird sings its song and he reaches for a dipper of cool water and drinks it slowly. It is good to be alive, YIII! He hears the sounds of his woman, making the sounds of early morning, making bread and cooking side the small house next door. He hears her feet walking about and remembers a time not so long ago. Riding to the Shiprock Fair She sits on a horse, a black one which glistens from the combed hair and set with a silver bridle She rides in the early morning dawn, her brown skin glowing pink the early light velveteen shirt of red, and a white skirt deerskin legging cover her feet a slight breeze catches her long hair in teh wind Yasho she rides with me Yasho she rides with me In the pale light she rides with me In the bright light of day she rides with me Across mountain passes she rides with me In the cool of the twilight she rides with me we go to the Shiprock Fair, Nataani Nez to trade silver and see all that is there beyond Table Mesa, Sanostee and along the river it sits, and she will cook for me we will stand in the fireiight and watch as the sound of winter comes the Yeibechei will dance and we delight in it so it has been for al long as we can remember His mind can see the glint of light in her eyes He hears her come outside, the sound of the screen door opening and he can see that the twinkle in her eyes is bright and clear In this early light they stand together, their hair now grey, and many years have come and gone She stands with him at dawn She stands with him at dawn He tells her this is for you a sterling concho belt glows in the light of white metal they will look at you say who is that one with him that is some silver belt she has on a whisp of wind catches her gray hair and she laughs at the thought of it Come inside and eat, old man then we can get ready to go to the Shiprock Fair so it goes in the early light of dawn rustywire

Navajo Cadillac isss

My schedule is this...
 I am no longer driving will be walking along the road hitchiking here and there
can't afford the gas the trading post prices are too damn high
$4.50 a gallon
look for me on the road
otherwise will be sitting at home
until two weeks from now when I can afford the gas...
so won't I won't in Gallup or anywhere else for a little bit
so will have to wait for lunch just waiting for gas to hit $5.00 a gallon...

Sent from Minnesota

An email from Minnesota came to me, it from a Navajo who is married up there to a Swiss girl now they have 5 children and he told me this story... "...So I traveled every corner of this country as a salesman for eight years. One day I found myself standing in a church saying, "I Do." A sweet Swiss girl from Minnesota trapped me in her web. So now I am living just north of Minneapolis as a husband and a father to five beautiful children. Now this leads me to this little story I would like to share. Last month, I was driving through Minneapolis. I came to a stop light at an intersection. There I saw an Indian woman standing in the frigid cold weather panhandling. My thought was how would someone slipped to the point of begging for small change and I am sure loads of humiliation to come out on the streets with a sign. I was thinking she probably is a mom who got into a desperation situation and this is way she saw to bring happiness to her child or children. At that point, the light turned green. I quickly got two twenties out of my pocket and handed to her. Her eyes showed the emotion of unending gratefulness and she said thank you very much sir I told her to get out of the cold weather and found a shelter to get warm. She smiled and said now I can do that as she was waving the twenties Two weeks ago my wife and I were in downtown Minneapolis driving on the way to the airport. I saw the same Indian woman hurrying along the street with a little girl. They were not dressed for the cold and windy weather. I quickly told my wife about what happened at the intersection three weeks ago. We stopped and yelled at her if they needed a ride. They ran across the Street and the woman said they are going over to Burger King, which was about four blocks away. We ended up eating with them and we got to know more about her. She is from South Dakota and they came to Twin City to earn some money and get to San Francisco. Her husband got a job in sheet metal working and he dumped her and the little daughter after his second pay check. She didn't know what happened to him. She was determined to find a way to California. My wife and I talked to her that we might help them if they're willing to accept our offer. After getting pass her pride, she said she will noted be able to pay us back and she doesn't know enough words to thank us. We told her not to be foolish, so we took her and her little beautiful daughter to a Marshall Fields store where they picked jackets, hats, gloves and a pair of shoes. That evening we putted them on the plane to San Francisco. After all this I ended up missing my flight to wife and I laughed. There is always another time for Chicago. Merry Christmas and the happiest New Year to you and your family." sent from Minnesota I got this yesterday in my email and after asking the writer about posting it they said it was ok so long as they remain anonymous. I am thinking maybe there is still some hope for humankind out there...rustywire

Saturday Morning

It is Saturday morning and I've been listening to the oldies on the radio, some good ones on today... been thinking about things...wondering what the world is like out there today... how would it be to walk along the ocean at sunrise... to eat breakfast at a greasy spoon along the interstate somewhere in Oklahoma... to be sitting in Toadlena on the Navajo Rez, my home and feel the dew drops on the cedar... the early morning smells of a new day, to hear the blue birds sing and look across the horizon, clear blue skies with just hint of a cloud. Listening to the sound of someone far off chopping wood smelling the smoke of a breakfast fire of cedar and juniper... tanding there with a cup of coffee mixed with a little cream and sugar to turn and see my father standing down by the corral to hear the sound of my grandmother laughing to hear the philco radio tell a story about how three lost sheep were found wandering around Farmington, and the police spent two hours trying to chase them down... Shimasani-my grandmother used to say, why do those people iust grow hay? that grass...just to cut and throw it away... Yahdahlah, she would say... in the distance I can hear the children laughing as they stand by the wash watching small twigs float down the stream. My mother would be coming in and telling me to check the truck, it is town day and we have to head to Gallup... a chance to maybe go to a movie, to walk around and see what is new... maybe to eat some Kentucky Fried Chicken or just to see what is on the road today... and in a blink of an eye it is all gone I am far away from there... where was I...ah yes standing outside in the early morning light... feeling a light breeze and thinking of a time long ago...