1/09/2013 My day on the Diné Reservation

Today was unexpected greatness. I came with no real expectations and came out feeling blessed. From the moment we drove out into the openess of the reservation, i felt peace. It is hundreds upon hundreds of miles of vast open prairies and mountains that feel like they have not been touched since the begining of time. I was guided through the reservation by my new friend Otis. Every mountain had a name “Sleeping Giant”, “Saddle Bute”, “Montezuma’s Chair” and all of the names had a story behind it. We drove into what felt like the heart of the reservation, to Otis Grandpa’s house where his mother Lisa is currently staying to take care of her dying father. She welcomed me in and we sat around the table talking. I instantly felt comfortable with her and asked tons of questions about the history of her people. It is obvious that their culture began to change, and in a lot of ways began to die when the white settlers came to their land. We know them as Navajo, that is the english translation; but the true name of their people is Diné (pronounced de-neh). They were given english last names so that the white settlers could identify with them. Their true last name comes from the name of their clan. Otis’ mothers clan is Red Towering House. Lisa is extremely proud of her roots and was very happy to share stories of her culture and her families history. Along with her pride she carries a deep sadness. Lisa is sad because the younger generations of Diné do not care to know their culture. She explained that the traditional way of living, the songs and stories are dying off with the elders. The dying of culture and not knowing the true root of your families history rang true with me. Being part of my families 3rd generation born in America, I know very little about my culture. Which until recently i thought was all based in Mexico. My mothers fathers side of the family does come from Jalisco, Mexico; but the father of my mothers mother comes from Spain and my grandmothers mother was French. My fathers side of the family came from Spain and up into California via Mexico. I think for a good majority of us born and raised in America there is a disconnect to our culture and our past. In my opinion we have all adopted the ways of this country and subconsciously do so to blend in and feel accepted. I think African Americans are a great example of that. I don’t believe that the last names they carry now are anywhere near the truth of their actual existence, and I wonder how many know the country or region of Africa in which their family tree originated. Why for so many us is culture and past something subtle that we don’t think about to often? Maybe because thinking of the past brings anger or hurt; but what effect has losing track of our roots actually had on our life? Food for thought.
Today I had a overwhelming feeling that my life is evolving, and a layer of my life is peeling back exposing blank pages for the next chapter, feeling fresh. I would say I started searching, questioning, and analyzing my life’s true purpose around the age of 16. I went through times of extreme introvert trying so hard to figure out this life and why I am here. I don’t regret anything because it has made me the man i am and brought me to this current state of being. My desire for knowledge and personal growth will never stop; but it is the realization that is so electric.
This afternoon I climbed Montezuma’s Chair, it was both challenging and exhilarating. When i got to the top it wasn’t a feeling of accomplishment, it was a feeling of freedom. I screamed at the top of my lungs and listened as it spread across the beauty my eyes were taking in. I have no worries right now, and I am learning what it means to be living in the moment. I have no idea where i will be in two days or what i will see/experience. I am completely comfortable with that.
My day on the reservation ended where it started, at the dinner table. When we came back from the hike Otis’ mother Lisa had a incredible spread of traditional Diné food. She took time during the meal to explain the original preparation and it’s significance to her people. Everything has a story, and they are all beautiful. Lisa also made me a traditional tea that you cannot get anywhere else. Her daughter Leann made a comment that she doesn’t even get the tea when she is sick. It was a unforgettable day and I am truly honored. LIVE,LIFE,LOVE

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One thought on “1/09/2013 My day on the Diné Reservation

  1. Matt,

    This is some interesting observation and hopefully you are writing down all that was said regarding their culture so you can put in the book? It all sounds very interesting and i would like to know what she said.

    DAD

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