Saturday, June 6, 2009

Navaho Nation

East of Las Vegas toward the Grand Canyon, we traversed the desert. As expected, this barely habitable land is, well, barely inhabited. Towns were 200 miles apart, and were tiny. Kristi wondered who would choose to live out here.

We were cool and comfortable in the air-conditioned car and didn’t even realize that we were in fact becoming dehydrated, until our lips became chapped, our skin became dry, and we got headaches. We stopped at a Sonic for a drink. That’s when we noticed – almost everyone there was Native American. The local law enforcement and other public offices in the town were tribal. The hand-washing notice in the bathroom was published by the Navajo Nation.

There are episodes in our nation’s history that are not proud. I am not proud that my ancestors came to a new continent; exploited, then practically perpetrated genocide against the native people; then confined those that survived to tiny parcels of inferior land. How could we have done this? Who thought this was okay? True, the tribes did already inhabit this land – but they migrated over large areas to more fertile land. And back then, they still had buffalo to hunt. We blame their current economic status on genetic predispositions and character flaws, but who else (other than the Mafia) is doing more than scratching out subsistence in the desert?

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