FORCED REMOVAL … It had been four days of conferencing, talking about oil and water, both the physical reality of those two fluids, but the larger metaphor of native and non-native, science and the sacred, of how Western thought and Native American thinking may mix, can mix, or don’t mix at all. Tribal elders spoke of a world in which all action takes place in a spirit context. And these were not just traditionals, but a Navajo astronomer, a Tigua physicist, a Laguna architect … Westerners talked politics, environmental activism and the need to protect water from our generation’s addiction to oil … But as much as what was said, there was the eating and mingling – allowing people from many different traditions to heal wounds made before our births … Santa Fe’s La Fonda Inn, doorstep on the plaza, provided an elegant and historic backdrop to this Lava Lamp sea change of perspectives … So, with Halloween Eve fast approaching, worrying about how I’m going to emcee the Oil and Water Conference costume party, I watch Dennis Martinez of the Indigenous Peoples Restoration Network give a powerful talk about the need to accept Native American practices in public land management. Which prompts a quiet grade school teacher from the Ute Rez up at Fort Duchesne, Utah, to start speaking. Quietly at first. And then her voice picking up force. Not anger, but a determined insistence to give witness. To be heard … Loya Arrum told about the forced removal of three Ute bands to Utah – the Uncompahgre (Tabeguache), White River (Yamparika) and Grand River (Parianuche). How her people were uprooted and forced to live on a consolidated reservation with the Uintah Basin Utes … That memory still burned like a candle on the Arrum family altar – being forced at gunpoint away from one’s tribal, ancestral home. It’s one thing to make treaties between sovereign nations and another to arrest without provocation and escort into exile under armed guard. “It’s not over,” Loya explained … She also spoke of the 400 Utes who fled to South Dakota following what the Mormon historians call the “Ute Outbreak of 1906-08.” Loya has been involved in going out to the high plains and finding Ute burial sites and information on the Nooch upstarts who fled Utah … As an Anglo who’s living on the land that her people once called home, I couldn’t help but be moved by her words. If there’s ever healing to occur, it has to be in listening to Ute elders when they come to speak to us in San Miguel County. (Thank you, Museum folks!) … The entire five-day conference, organized by the Seed Graduate Institute of Santa Fe, touched many issues, from Alan Savory’s Holistic Management decision-making process to Hazel Henderson’s video simulcast to Santa Fe, talking about sustainability and ancient wisdom; from Bohmian dialogues with Miljenko Juricic of the Nicola Valley Institute of Technology in British Columbia and Peter Warshall of Sixties’ Bolinas and Whole Earth Catalog fame to lectures by Chellis Glendinning on our addiction to Western Civilization and Estaven Arrellano on the history of acequias to ceremony with Lloyd Pinkham, Nancy Maryboy, Leon Secatero, and Pat McCabe … Yes, there can be a connection between spirit and science, oil and water, the indigenous mind of place and this dazzling technolithic wonder of an age-on-the-brink … I needn’t have worried. The Halloween party was a hit after all – even Loya showed up after her emotional words earlier in the afternoon. Cypriano y Familia played a great first set, getting many of the costumers up and dancing. But it was Vicente Griego and his guitarist and Flamenco dancer that took our breaths away. I have seen old men bring the duende alive with their voices, beautiful women with their bodies, and Vicente Griego sang from deep within that tradition, alternating between blood and chocolate, melting every emotion into the pure flow of duende. It was a gripping performance. Three marvelous pieces … And then, as can only happen in Santa Fe, a visiting delegation of shamans from the Altai Mountains of Mongolia joined the festivities, their regalia costume enough for any party, and one of them was a throat-singer with a one-stringed guitar-like instrument who came and did a duet with Vicente – two bellowing spirit frogs approaching the sacred spring waters atop San Francisco Peaks during the Home dances at Oraibi … A most amazing healing as well as a significant information exchange.
DAVID BACON … I was most taken with this statesman-like figure who spent the entire five days at the Oil and Water Conference while in the last week or two of his campaign for election to the District 4 seat of the Public Regulation Commission (like our PUC) on the Green Party ticket. And he’d managed to garner endorsements from the Sierra Club, a state government employees union and almost all the major papers in the state – the Albuquerque Journal, the Santa Fe New Mexican, the Farmington Daily Times. Already a pretty impressive a showing for a state third-party candidate … We’ll see if he wins.
WEEKLY QUOTA … “Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.” -Groucho Marx
COLORADO BOOK AWARDS … Colorado College prof and poet friend Jane Hilberry took the prize for poetry with Body Painting from Red Hen Press. A skilled writer, Hilberry’s poems combine haunting beauty with eerie sensuality … CU law prof (and mentor for Town Attorney Kevin Geiger) Charles Wilkinson took first place in the history/biography category with Blood Struggle: The Rise of Modern Indian Nations from WWNorton … CSU prof and new friend SueEllen Campbell won the anthology prize, along with Gary Wockner and Gregory McNamee, for Comeback Wolves: Western Writers Welcome the Wolf Home from Johnson Books, a division of Big Earth Publishing.