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Random words, pictures and thoughts of one who always wishes to be on the mind's road to discovery!

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Connecticut River Valley, New England, United States

Saturday, March 5, 2011

KESH-SHI ( hello)

We started the day at 9:30 this morning and went immediately to Perry Null's Trading Post where I returned the squash blossom necklace I bought earlier in the week and purchased the more expensive older one. I could not resist and cannot stop looking at it. Barry asked if I wanted to wear it but I didn't think it would go well with my orange top--I was wrong --when I tried it on yet again in the motel tonight it was perfect. I think this is a piece I will be able to wear with most anything. It is Zuni in origin and very dainty unlike the bulky, huge pieces done by the Navajo. The style is needlepoint. I cannot help it--I love it. I also found out that my lady dealer's name is Karen and that the Native man, whom I told we'd gone to Canyon de Chelly and Aztec, is Melvin. He was happy we'd gone to see these places and I told him I truly understood why his people love them so.

I've been ready The Long Walk which is another story of the white man's treatment of the Indians--in this case the forcible march of the Navajo to Basque Redondo south of Albuquerque. It was done while the Civil War was also being fought and the Navajo were such a problem for the government that Sherman was sent out with authority to do whatever he felt would settle the problem. He allowed the Navajo to return to their homeland, much to the Indian's surprise. ( If truth be told I was rather astounded to discover this as well, considering Sherman's definition of a good Indian).

From Gallup we went to the Zuni Pueblo which was rather pricey--$10. per person for touring and $10. photography permit. We would have felt ripped off but for the fact that we lucked into a three hour lecture by Alex Seowtewa who was addressing students from Appalachian State College in Boone, N.C. ( That's the town Richard Caudill is from ,Glen ) The old Mission on the Pueblo has an incredible history dating from 1629 when Franciscans from Spain established it. It had fallen into ruin and when Alex was a boy the roof was caved in and the ruin filled with over five feet of dirt. A priest who arrived in the 1960's felt that the mission should be restored and with the support of the Nat Pk Svc and others was able to get it started. When the dirt was removed there was evidence of murals on the north and south walls and he approached Alex about restoring them as well--kachinas--Zuni religious figures in a Catholic Church! Alex researched among the elders to find it this were indeed true and found that it was. So at the urging of the priest and with no experience of using oil paints he began what became an almost 30 yr project.

He started by telling of his early life, his time in the service during the Korean War of which he is quite proud, his use of alcohol to try to readjust to life back in the Pueblo after being away, his determination to be a good husband and father and therefore give up alcohol, his work at St Anthony's Church and meeting with the new priest at Our Lady of Guadalupe Mission and his new life's work. He then talked of the structure of Zuni society--Clans which are passed down from the maternal line, Kivas to which sons belong based on the Kiva to which the husband of the godmother of the boy belongs ( the godmother being the midwife who delivered the child ) and Medicine Groups based on herbal usages. More confusing then I could follow with such short explanation. I need a chart! He spoke of the history of Spanish suppression of the non-warlike Zunis and the ultimate revolt of the unified Pueblo Indians that finally drove the Spanish out.

And then he explained the 50 feet of paintings on the North wall--representing the kachinas and the dances they perform during the winter--and also the ten days of fasting and good works that take place at the time of the shortest day of the year.

This was followed by the 50 feet of life sized kachinas and the dances they perform during the spring, summer and fall. Some of these dances of all seasons have not been performed for over 30 years for the elders who knew them best died and did not pass on the knowledge. He wonders when all of the dances will pass into history and hopes that his murals will preserve this heritage for the generations to come.

Unfortunately, pictures may not be taken and so unless you look up the several articles online about them I don't have any to show you. But they are incredibly beautiful and already are falling off the stucco walls in some places. There is no money to preserve them apparently and when I was researching them online to give you links I found one www.thefreelibrary.com and the article Zuni murals link two cultures. Here is additional info not shared by Alex--not all Zunis are thrilled with his murals. It is an interesting and not very long article.

I froze in that chapel--forgetting that warmth does not easily penetrate buildings with six feet thick stucco walls. But I felt it would be impolite and disrespectful to leave for my jacket so I bore the cold to absorb the history. Oh, did I mention that during the restoration an early priest was found buried under the altar, beheaded ! ? He was disinterred and buried in the Churchyard out front! Guess he was Spanish --- so out he went in the revolt--Catholic priest or not!

After this wonderful by chance event we rolled across the border into Arizona and a very different terrain. When we asked the lady in the store if Rte 53 would take us into Arizona she said yes and at Witch Well there was a bar--and we could decide which way to go there. She wasn't lying. Witch Well is on the map and it IS a bar! Took 191, which we'd been on up north at Hubbell's Trading Post the other day, to I 40 west to Holbrook where we are staying tonight and probably tomorrow night.

Had hot roast beef sandwiches and raspberry iced tea at the motel restaurant and now I'm going to get into my slinky nightgown Bets gave me with my new necklace and read Death on the Lizard. Good night until tomorrow!

Oh, check out www.PerryNullTrading.com I think you'll like his stuff!

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