Tag Archives: Zuni

I respect Native Americans and other minorities because it’s so dehumanizing.

Imagine it readers.  Someone saying aloud, no hint of humor, “I respect white people!”  Imagine that bullshit.

Now, turn that around and imagine you’re hearing what you’ve heard a thousand times from the lips of a white person speaking about this or that minority group.  Or women.  [Parenthetically, I think males, especially white males, are the minority in the US gender-wise.  I haven’t checked the statistics, but I recall somewhere women live longer than men because they don’t have the stresses, wars to fight, and don’t have to do the hard, dangerous work all us men do just for the fun of it.]

Anyway, think of it.  Suppose you were a self-respecting US citizen of color, and some white person said to you, “Hey man, I respect blacks.”  Do you suppose he’ll just figuratively roll his eyes back into his head and grunt?  Or will he say, “Just what the hell are you talking about you freaking lying hypocrite?  You believing your own bullshit again?”  Because it ain’t like he’s been living on the moon.  He’s living in the world where the prisons are full of black males, where black males are gang banging, selling black women off to prostitution, and strutting around being proud of it.

How the hell could anyone except some stupid white person insult, dehumanize decent black people who aren’t doing those things by saying he/she ‘respects’ generic, stereotyped, cardboard cutout blacks?

Same with Hispanics.  The only Hispanics a person could claim to respect and mean it across the board are the ones illegally crossing the US/Mexico Border to work their asses off for peanuts doing anything lazy assed US citizens don’t want to do.  But just saying, “I respect Hispanics,” is to stereotype them in a way any fool knows is a blasted lie because it simply isn’t possible in the real Universe.

It’s a similar with Native Americans.  That’s because the insult is compounded, squared and cubed.  Probably 90% of people guilty of even thinking such assinine thoughts have never even spoken to anything remotely akin to whatever the hell they think a Native American is.

There ain’t any such thing, is what I’m saying.  No such thing.  No such thing.  There are Lakota, Zuni, Navajo, Mojave, Mescalero.  As different from one another as a NYC black trumpet-player living in Greenwich Village is from a bayou Coonass in Louisiana.

About the only thing descendants of  aboriginal tribesmen in North America have in common is white people and Mexicans and blacks.  Every Rez is full of people who know how stupid white people, Mexicans and blacks are.  The Rez is full of stupid people too, but mostly they don’t know it.  But they could be a lot stupider than they are and still recognize how stupid white people, Mexicans and black people are.

And they’re damned well sick of being dehumanized by being respected by them.

Remember where you heard it first.

Old Jules

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Time to lighten up a bit – Communist hell on the Zuni Reservation

I wrote this after a weekend spent with a once-lady-friend who spent her career as a high school librarian on the Navajo and Zuni Reservations.

zuniland1a

Cataclysmic Doggerel
 
 
A schoolmarmish lady in Zuni
Had canines subversive and loony;
Her Communist felines
Made neighborhood beelines
With doctrines both outworn and puny.
 
The KGB cat was a lean
And speckled-nosed beauty serene
In appearance alone
For her countenance shown
Multi-faceted plots as she preened.
 
Her Weathercat history was tops:
She sprayed on dozens of cops
With a Commie aroma
But joined Sertoma
Cavorting with phonies and fops.
 
The ringleader hound was a red
And curly haired rascal it’s said
Whose Trotskyish leanings
And Maoish gleanings 
Were pondered curled up on the bed.
 
Princess Redfeather, they tells
Of this curly red bitch of the cells,
Forsook her fine lineage
To sip of the vintage
of Lenin, and Gulags and hells.
 
The worst of the felines, Bearboy:
Striped and cross-eyed and coy;
Politically weak, 
Had claws that could tweak
Bourgeois carpet, and bedspread, with joy.

The Uncle-Tom dog of the hut
Was Ernie, the gray-bearded mutt; 
Dog-tired, and dogmatic,
He thought,”Problematic:
dog-eared dialectic and glut.”
 
The Uncle-Tom dog she called Ernie
Began as a dog-pound attorney
Commuted from gassing
He pondered in passing
Discretion’s demand for a journey.
 
A calico hound lying dormant,
Most likely a police informant:
A capitalist clown
Took his food lying down
Resisting the commie allurement.
 
The Stalinish kittenish spies
Spread foment and torment and lies
To Indian curs
And mutts that were hers
And War-Gods high up on the rise.
 
Princess and Ernie and, Spot,
And Chester, the narc-dog; the lot:
For half a piaster
Would bring a disaster 
To Zuni, once called Camelot

shalako pot

Old Jules

A Few Things Zuni – Part 1

During the early 1990s the Coincidence Coordinators conspired to make Zuni Pueblo and the geography surrounding it a major focus in my life.  I mentioned a bit about Zuni here:  This is Zuni Salt Lake, but over the next couple of whiles I’d like to tell you a bit more about them. 

At the time the overwhelming part of my salary was paid by FEMA and a part of my job involved mitigation of recurring natural disaster damage behind federal disaster expenditures.  In New Mexico a huge percentage of the recurring expense was located on Navajo lands, but flooding on the Zuni River reared its head as a concern during the same time period.

Meanwhile, the Coincidence Coordinators got into the act.  The search for the lost gold mine was being driven by documents from the US Archives, New Mexico State Archives, fragments of mention from 19th Century newspapers, later-in-life memories of men connected to the events and documented in books, topo maps and other researched sources.

Keith and I, examining and submerging ourselves together during that phase of my search, concluded the areas to the east of Zuni, and to the south were prime candidates for the location.  Candidates based on what we knew at the time.  Wilderness Threats.

By my own recollection that phase of the search lasted only three, maybe four years, maybe less.  But it led by numerous routes, into more than a decade of closer association with Zuni, both as a tribe, and as a geography.  I’ll be posting more about that, about Keith’s and my explorations, about the Zuni pueblo and the people living there, and about some aspects of the history and culture.

But I’ll begin by posting this piece of doggerel I wrote a long time ago about my first visit to the Zuni Rez and my first encounter with the Zuni and Ramah Navajo.  That meeting with the Zuni Tribal Council burned itself into my memory as few things I’ve experienced this lifetime have.

Flooding on the Zuni land
Tribal chairman calls
Upstream Ramah Din’e band
Over grazing galls.

Ancient ruins I travel past
Forgotten tribes of old
And finally arrive at last
On Zuni land as told:
Tribal council meets, he chants
A time warp history.

I Listen long the raves and rants
And river mystery:
Navajo must have his sheep
To have his wealth, it’s plain.
Too many kids, too many sheep
Too little grass and rain.
Forgotten white man wrongs and deeds
The raids of Navajo
Corn that didn’t sprout the seeds
And stumbled Shalako
More sheep grazed than in the past
Arroyos grew wide and deep
Siltation settled hard and fast
In riverbed to sleep.

Navajo siltation choked
An ancient channel bed
Water rose above the banks
200 cattle dead
Houses flooded, ruined cars
Fields of grain were lost
A playground field a channel mars
And who should bear the cost?

The tribal chairman Ramah band
Listened to my tale
Stony silence, steady hand
Informed me I would fail.

“If those Zunis don’t like floods
Tell them to reduce the chances;
We’ll hold back our streams of muds
If they’ll call off their damned rain
dances.”

(Doggerel to smile by)

Old Jules

This is Zuni Salt Lake


It’s about forty miles south of the Zuni Rez, almost in AZ.

There’s a ghost town you can barely see in the pic…. used to be a considerable community down in there when it was private land, from the mid-1800s until the 1950s, evaporating salt from the huge concrete beds.  Most of the buildings are still intact, though they’re going away rapidly.

Today it belongs to the Zuni tribe, one section of land, but it’s not in the national trust as part of the Rez.  Tribes have been acquiring a lot of land from casino monies and other ways during the past decades, making the lands acquired ‘tribal’, but not Rez, which puts them into an interestingly ambiguous position insofar as road maintenance and county taxes.

Salt Lake was acquired as a piece of a lawsuit against the US government involving an airplane with a hydrogen bomb aboard that crashed on the Rez, with first responders being Zunis, but which the feds didn’t bother telling them about the bomb, leaving emergency workers exposed to hazardous materials without knowing it.  The tribe got a few million out of that, which they used to purchase 60k acres of land to the south of the Rez, but Salt Lake was thrown in as a bonus.

Salt Lake’s a sacred place for the Zunis, home of Salt Mother.  If you are willing to risk hopping the fence and wandering around down there ….. it’s a volcano crater with a hollow secondary plug you can climb, then a spiral trail leading back down inside … that’s where most of the rituals for Salt Mother are held… but all over that section you’ll pass over various religious items from recent times you’d be well advised to leave untouched.

Salt Lake used to be the place all the warring tribes got their salt throughout history.  A place where a constant truce between enemy tribes existed.

It’s also part of what the power companies would love to strip mine.   The great percentage of the desert surrounding it, from north of Springerville, and Saint Johns, Arizona is government land with shallow coal deposits comparatively inexpensive to ‘recover’.  They’ve already converted the desert on the Arizona side to a wasteland.  Still desert, but more in the moonscape vein than the usual, regular arid country mode.

The people in El Paso and Phoenix need electricity so they can fire up their hair dryers every morning, and keep their homes refrigerated.   Those places have climates uncomfortable to the human skin most of the time and they’d rather savage a few million acres of country they’ve never visited and never will than suffer a few degrees of discomfort and use a towel to dry their hair.

Which the Zuni believe would thoroughly piss off Salt Mother, with considerable resulting pain for the Zunis, and all the rest of us.

They might be right.

The Zuni and a few commie-pinko-obstructionist greenie environmentalists are the only people who give a damn, and the other desert-dwellers in the area would welcome the jobs helping ravage the country around them would bring to the area.  The last time I looked the Zuni tribe was burning up a lot of tribal money trying to stop the mine expansion into New Mexico.  The prospects didn’t appear promising because the New Mexico government, the feds, and the mining interests were stacked up singing songs of human progress and greater good.

Heck, it’s been a few years now.  Maybe they’re already mining it.  Probably easier to ask someone in Phoenix or El Paso whether the hair dryer worked this morning and if it did, assume that desert has gone to the moon.

Old Jules

 

Wilderness Threats


A man I went to grammar school, junior high and some high school with, then several decades later became reacquainted and huff-puffed a lot of up and down mountain canyons recently began visiting this blog.  If no other reader enjoys the tale, at least he will, because he was there:

The following is copyrighted material from a book I wrote once.  I give myself permission to use it here. [ Crazy Lost Gold Mine-ism]

I’ve never concerned myself much with the dangers of wild animals during my extensive time in the woods.  Mostly they’ll mind their own business if a person takes reasonable precautions and doesn’t go out of his way to provoke them.  In New Mexico backlands of the late 20th century the real threats usually come in the form of humans.  When those happen they usually come as suddenly and unexpectedly as finding one’s self in the middle of a herd of elk.

Grasshopper Canyon and Stinking Springs are on the northern end of the Zunis below Oso Ridge on the west face of the mesa.  Two canyons run north and south, parallel to the face, half a mile apart, separated from one another by steep, narrow walls several hundred feet high.  These two walls consist of coral reef from some ancient time when Oso Ridge was an island.  The canyons aren’t easily accessible, so I prospected there a while.

The land below Oso Ridge around Grasshopper Canyon is checker-boarded in ownership.  Grasshopper is all National Forest, but immediately south is a section of Navajo tribal land.  Adjacent to the Navajo section is a section belonging to the Zuni tribe.  Fences between these sections allow a person to always know whether he’s on public land or tribal land.

I was working Grasshopper Canyon with my friend Keith, a stockbroker from Santa Fe. We separated and worked the arroyos southward parallel to one another, gradually moving toward the fence delineating the Navajo section.  Occasionally we’d call out through the woods to make certain we weren’t out-distancing one another.  The last thing either of us expected was an encounter with another human in those woods.

I was bent over taking samples from the bed of a shallow arroyo, just deep enough so when I straightened I could view the small meadow around me.  I stood getting my breath and stretching the kinks out of my back when I saw a man dressed in cammies backing out of the woods at the edge of the meadow.  He was being stealthy, carrying a .22 rifle in a ready position.  He had twenty to thirty colorful birds hanging on a string around his neck the way a fisherman carries a stringer of fish.  As I watched, almost invisible to him with only the top of my head showing above the arroyo, his eyes searched the woods to his right where Keith was working.  Keith had called out from there a few moments previously.

Still watching Keith’s direction the man backed toward me until he was only a few feet away from me.  “Nice string of birds.”  I scrambled up the bank while he spun and pointed the .22 in my general direction.

My partner’s in the woods back behind you.  You don’t want to be firing in that direction.”  We studied one another.  He eyed the shoulder rig I was wearing and the butt of the 9 mm automatic showing from the bottom.  “’You out here killing songbirds?”

Mister Songbird was a young man and from appearances, a Zuni.  He stared a moment longer before answering.  My impression was that he was considering whether I was a game warden or other law enforcement official.  “I’m getting them for Zuni New Year.  They let us do that.”

We talked for a few minutes, me accepting what he said at face value, and the tension gradually dissolved.  He agreed to get the hell out of the canyon because we were working there and wouldn’t want any shooting.  Besides, we’d probably messed up his hunt with our yelling and bustling around the woods.  I watched him back into the meadow to the south and allowed myself to sigh with relief.

Back in Santa Fe I called the US Fish and Game Department.  I thought there was a remote chance the feds were really allowing Zunis to kill protected species birds on National Forest land.  If so, I was prepared to be indignant.

When I told my story the fed was silent a moment.  “You are a lucky man,” he observed.  “You confronted an armed man committing multiple Federal felonies and he didn’t shoot you.”

*     The following didn’t make it into the final draft of the manuscript: The fed also observed the Zuni lad would have spent a lot more years in prison for killing those songbirds than he would have for killing me.  I drew a good bit of comfort from knowing that.

Eventually logic won out over the other appeals of the Zuni Mountains as a location for the lost gold mine I was searching for.  Although the Zunis were handy for me, being only a few hours drive from Santa Fe, they were too far from Tucson.

Also, too many prominent landmarks in the area would have immediately brought the original survivors back.  The route I imagined them following would have taken them within sight of Los Gigantes and enough other one-of-a-kind eccentricities to make the location unmistakable.

Even the Big Notch and Little Notch in the Continental Divide can be seen from miles to the west.  There’s nothing else similar to it in North America.

Marty Robbins – Little Green Valley

http://youtu.be/WT5qegD28Wo