Sunday, November 4, 2012


A friend who has worked as a teacher on the Rez says that sometimes parents pull their kids out of school in order to make day trips into Town. Our city is "Town;" the largest around for 130 miles or more. My friend says the kids love it when it is their turn; they get really excited about these trips.


Local artists were commissioned for much of the public art in our downtown area.  Some were Native and some were not.

Folks exit off the highway to come and photograph these murals.  While pointing and shooting my camera, I was mistaken for one of these passersby and locals waved me down to point out their favorites or give directions to others.  Some dodged the camera but others would slow down and drive real slow to make sure they were in the shot.  "Take a picture of ME!  Take a picture of ME!"

On Sunday afternoons, it is completely silent downtown.  All the shops are closed and there is no one around, at all.  It would be a great time to ride a bike without worrying about getting hit by a car except that it is so eerie. 


We are from the rocks in the desert that always need water.
We are from outside and inside. From at home and in town.

We are from a prayer that is said before we eat our food.
We are from feeding the cats and dogs.
And from cleaning our rooms . . . sometimes.

We are from being told to behave and listen to our moms and saying Naaaa.
We are from going to Squaw Dances.
We are from a family that was told not to play games and instead we sing.
We are from a family that does Navajo things.
We are from Gallup and Dine and corn.
From Navajo tacos and mutton stew.
We are Navajo and we aren’t supposed to look at snakes

We are from parties and family. We are also Mexican.
Enchiladas and beans from our cousin far away
From grandparents who were in World War II

From brothers and from sisters.
From old and weird homes.
And from the trees.

This is the probably the most famous strip in our town to tourists.  No cool murals, but pawn and jewelry shops and places to buy beaded moccasins and boots and all that.  We hardly ever go here; maybe other locals, I don't know.  My impression, though, is that most folks prefer to go to Walmart. 

Finally, one more poem, composed by some local fourth graders (find it here):

We are from a beautiful room. From an old TV and ice cream.
We are from the trailer park behind Allsup’s.
From a video game system waiting for us to play.
We are from a family that stays up all night with game controllers in our hands.
We are from cooking food for our mom and dad.
We are from the Indian Hospital in Fort Defiance.

We’re from Christmas at night and family time every Thursday.
We are from laughing and cooking. And from nachos on Sunday.

We are from our grandpa.
We did anything together every Sunday.
We would watch the Giants play, and we loved to watch football
until he passed away from cancer.

We are from families, from food, and from traditions.

- 4th Hour World History Lumberjacks


Kari said...

Cool post, Claire! I really liked some of those poems, too, when I read them; I'm glad the J published them.

Meredith said...

We do "I am from" poems with our college students each year... they can be incredibly insightful!

Aunt Jerah said...

Nice. Ever thought about writing a book? A non-native take on Gallup, impressions, etc?