at Sandia

(Santa Ana Pueblo, NM) I feel pretty far from news and opinion out here in the desert, and for once unmoved to comment on any controversies, social issues, or moral dilemmas. We’re in a resort built on the land of the Tamaya Pueblo Indians, who own a majority stake in the hotel. Outside our window is a stretch of grass, a thin forest of cottonwoods, the Rio Grande, and then Sandia Mountain with snow on its craggy slopes. We’re at 5,000 feet, and Sandia rises another 5,000 feet above us. A warm wind whips across the vast open space. The night air is clear, dark, and cold.

After dinner, three men in enormous feathered headdress walked by, drumming. It turned out that they were not Pueblos, but visiting Aztecs from Mexico. A Native American elder from Oklahoma, here for the National Service Learning Conference, blessed us; I hoped we were worthy of his eloquent blessing and song. He asked the earth and water to protect us, and it was impossible not to recall the harm we do to them. Then a Pueblo from Tamaya, Shkeme Garcia, told us folktales and sang Indian reggae songs that he has also performed in New Zealand, Hawaii, and elsewhere among the world’s indigenous peoples. He spoke Keres, the language of Tamaya and some other pueblos, which is unfortunately not used by anyone under the age of 40.

There is no shortage of problems, issues, events, achievements, choices, and controversies in this place. But I am largely ignorant of them. What I see with my tourist’s eyes is sublime and apparently timeless.

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