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Arches

July 30, 2012
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It’s kind of strange living among Indians and being from St. Louis.  The one thing everybody knows about St. Louis is that we have “The Arch.”  The Arch that celebrates the westward expansion.  The movement of white people into Indian land.  The great “first explorers” of already-occupied territory.  It’s not like anyone gives me a hard time about it, but it’s just kind of silently… true.

One of the seniors offered to show me the “real arch.”  He took me to a nearby place called La Ventana.  It’s a natural stone arch.  Absolutely beautiful.


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Throwing

July 28, 2012
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It was St. James Day.  And then it was St. Anna’s Day.  Any other place I’ve lived, so what?  But here, Saint Days are a big deal.

On St. James Day, as a local friend was driving me back home from El Malpais, the absolutely gorgeous place where I took this picture:

and this picture:

He said, hey, they’re gonna be throwing near my house soon!  Wanna go?

They’re gonna be what?

Throwing.  Throwing things from their roofs because there’s a kid named James.

This is what people do here on saints days.  They give back to the community by hurling objects from their roofs.  And I’m not just talking about a kid tossing some DumDums.  The first thing James did was hold up a beautiful Acoma pottery bowl. He used his hand toss water from the bowl out over the crowd below him.  There were at least twenty of us, and as I later found out, that was a small crowd for throwing.  James then tossed the bowl into the crowd.  I ducked.  Somebody caught it.  That was followed by a steady stream of… things.  Big ZipLock backs of frybread, rolls of toilet paper, notebooks, buckets, bottles of water, baggies of candy, boxes of fabric softener sheets.  Aprons, dishrags, kids’ snorkels, bags of chips, Hostess Ding Dongs and Ho Hos and whatever else Hostess makes.  Laundry baskets, hangers, pens and pencils.  Dish soap and laundry detergent.  Forget shopping.  A body can do well just hitting up a few good throwings.  I caught quite a lot of stuff, and brought it home to stock my host mom’s kitchen and laundry room.

The next day was St. Anna’s.  I was sitting down to my second dinner of a three-dinner night (Feast Days are like that… and that’s another story entirely), when a family at the table was like, “Hey, we’re gonna go grab.  Wanna come?”  Grabbing, of course, is the counterpart of throwing.  So, we went to grab, along with about fifty other people.  Any tricks to this? I asked the experienced grabber next to me.  “Catch everything, don’t get hit by a can.”


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The only white person

July 18, 2012
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I once saw a website called “stuff white people like.”  Let’s see if I can get a link here…

http://stuffwhitepeoplelike.com/full-list-of-stuff-white-people-like/

Yup, there it is.  Check out item #71.  So true, though I don’t entirely agree with their detailed explanation.  I have my own reasons for enjoying my minority time.  In any case, I’m a pretty lucky white person, because the majority of my past year has been spent in places where I’ve been living the 71st white person dream.  We’re not very numerous in rural China, nor are we numerous on Indian reservations.

When you live in a place where everyone looks rather different from you, a few fascinating phenomena start to kick in.  First, if you go back to a place where you’re a majority again, you start to think you know everyone.  This is especially true if you have glasses, but usually neglect to wear them.  Each time I return to America, I think I know EVERYONE.  Not just white people.  Black people too.  And brown people.  Suddenly, the majority of random people I pass on the street look a whole lot like the people I grew up with.  I find myself waving to everyone.

Waving to everyone’s not a problem on the rez.  In fact, it’s common courtesy here.  I do, however, suffer from the effects of phenomenon #2 here.  The double take.  I find myself staring at other white people.  It’s a pretty typical human response, to stare at the minority and try to figure out how they got here.  But in America, there aren’t that many opportunities to stare at white folks because we’re usually the majority.  I was swimming the other day and was, not surprisingly, the only white person in the pool.  When I stopped to adjust my goggles, I saw another white person!  He was slouched against the wall.  He was as white as I am!  And I’m pretty darn pale.  I looked at him for a good twenty seconds.  He wasn’t moving.  I finally realized that he was not a white person at all.  He was a white dummy for lifeguards to practice saving.  I guess that, regardless of where you are in America, the majority of manikins are white.


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Blockages

July 13, 2012
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So, because I use a lot of Community Center Internet and Work Internet, I actually STILL have to use a VPN to connect if I want to see facebook or blogs.  Apparently social networking sites are conducive to neither work nor community.  I often find myself saying, “man, it’s like I’m still in China.”  But then my friend sent me this article, and I guess I have to admit that Community Center censoring and China censoring are still in totally different leagues.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/china/9394684/The-truth-deleted-from-internet-in-China.html


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Driving lessons on the rez

July 13, 2012
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You may recall from my posts about biking that I have a really severe fear of operating anything with wheels.  Even if it doesn’t have a motor.

To be honest, I even get stressed out about pushing grocery carts.

Lately, however, I had my least stressful automobile driving experience yet.  Behind that cute rez dog is a pickup truck.  I drove it.  Yup.  Dirt roads and pickup trucks are a lot of fun.


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Somewhere (else) rural

July 12, 2012
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