Tuesday, January 17, 2012

The Rez

I really like living here in the mountains with a Native American tribal nation close by. I love seeing the old women coming into Wal-Mart in their native dresses. Their greying hair is either in a long braid or folded up on the back of their head clasped within a barrette. Some of them wear the beautiful jewelry we've grown accustomed to associating with Indians, squash blossom necklaces, or beautiful turquoise, coral, or heishi strands.

I've lived here for over ten years but had never visited the reservation town. I never had a reason to go there until the recent work weekend to help get their new crisis pregnancy center building ready for move-in. Sometimes Indian reservations are ugly arid pieces of earth, testimony of how "generous" our white-man ancestors were to the Indians they rounded up and "gave" land to. But this reservation, in the pines and mountains is beautiful country.

The mountain below stands as a guard over our nearby reservation town.

I love laundry on a clothes line. These Indian blankets caught my eye.

Broken windows and graffiti are common sights. It seems that many of the buildings on "the rez" fall prey to vandalism. In fact, the original pregnancy center was a victim of idle arson. Nothing better to do one night. The fire didn't completely consume the building and the plan was to repair and rebuild on the original site. But a short while later, on another idle night, someone set the remains on fire again resulting in a total loss. The center has been housed in a suite of rooms at a nearby motel for two years. Building on a new site has been slow, relying on donations of labor and materials, but they're finally ready to open in their new building this week.

There are many problems on the reservation but there's one I enjoyed seeing. Wild horses. Based on my experience, this seems to be a common thing on many reservations. We saw it in the northern part of Arizona when driving to Alaska a few years ago. Driving north we saw flashing lights headed south on the wrong side of the road from us. A tribal police SUV was driving on the wide shoulder of the highway, chasing a small herd of wild horses away from town.

On my work weekend, I saw horses just wandering around grazing in the area of the center.

I pulled into a small parking lot to see this fellow.

At the end of the day, on my way out of town, I decided to go into the parking lot of the local community college campus for another photo of the mountain. "Hm, what are these bright yellow triangular pieces of steel stretched across the entrance?" As I rattled over them, I thought, "they must be like cattle guards. Something to keep the wild horses out maybe."

They don't work.

The evidence was everywhere. On the paved driveways, the gravel parking lots, and grass.

Wild horses and reservations just seem to go together. What an interesting problem to have to deal with.

I got my late afternoon photo of the mountain, but it's obviously not as good as my earlier one.

And then, driving on I noticed the moon rising. Parting views of my weekend on the rez.

No comments:

Post a Comment