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[The following speaks to the current struggles of all Peoples whose cultures, lands, and lives are threatened by "progress." I honor the People of the Dine'h and Hopi Nations and give thanks for the art of a brave-hearted Woman, Pamela Escarsega.]


Time has followed us
to this precipice,
this grand and precarious perch,
this harsh and rugged land,
marked by cactus and juniper,
and we are forced into thought,
knees held tight to the heart,
looking out over
broken holy lands.

Time stills
drawing this moment,
for now,
into eternity.

The sage-filled air embraces us
with the spirit of wise and
ancient ones.
They are patient as we try
to understand, and
gently laugh as our
questions prevent
any possibility of knowing.

"The way is hard and dangerous,"
they tell us,
"and only the strong will survive,
only the humble."

In the distance we hear
the heart break,
oozing crimson red,
mother's moans
in the wretched winter march
three hundred bare feet
miles from here
to the Bosque Redondo,
Carson's men with their rifles
at the children's heads,
forcing the people
far from their country.

We hear the endless echoing,
waves of pain reverberating
off scarlet-veined canyon walls.
to battles fought
and being fought.
to treaties written;
treaties broken.
to colonial terrorism.
to militant imperialism.
Testimony to mad man's decree
Manifest Destiny
the inherent right
to genocide?

Time stills,
and we hear the truth,
whispered relentlessly,
in ever widening circles
it will never go away
no matter how many
European years ago;
the blood has stained
this mystical Dine and Hopi land.

We are drawn here by the
haunting eyes of elders
women holding strong
even unto death
(they have known death).
And even now, down the wash,
sheep are carried off,
as children's hungry faces
peep from behind
wide and colorful skirts,
their hunger prevailing
through the promises of hope
and offers of aid.

"The white man's promises
mean nothing to us,"
a young AIM warrior scowls
straight to our face.

We have traveled from ignorance,
bred and raised by a deadly,
soul-numbing machinery
that tells us,
we should have
everything, but
here in the purifying
scorch of the ever-beating sun,
there is no escaping the
dried bones of reality.

The mother's rich veins
exposed black seams
coal changed to
dollar signs in the
eyes of the unseeing
opened wounds
left to bleed what once
was seen as wasteland
now fought for with a
capitalistic vengeance
called "progress" and the
tools of war are many.

At grandma's hogan
the fire boils water,
onions and potatoes,
a little sheep's fat
circles the pot, ever
stirred with the thought,
there'll be no meat
because Washington's law
calls reduction
the sane approach;
but, the wise women know
it is nothing less than
a state of siege.

And even those who come to help
with open arms leave with
bags clutched tightly-
cedar and sage to burn
at parties for urban friends,
and secretly they know,
they have come to find
their center, they
so desperately believe
can be stolen from them.

And back in their hometowns,
and on long distance telephones,
they knock each other down,
to see who can be
the most "red-like",
whose feathers and beads,
burnt offerings
call out the loudest,
never stopping to see,
it's all gone wrong again.
The mountain has become a
battleground of helping egos
the good they can do
diminished by the hour,
as some struggle to be
the first,
the best,
the most well-known
white boy on the rez.

Time has followed us here,
in this drought-stricken desertland,
our sweat-humbled eyes catch
of lightning
strike above the Sundance arbor,
and as the rains pour,
in answer to the people's prayers,
we remember,
that not by Cortes' quest for gold,
or Carson's campaign of terror,
not by Washington's laws,
not even by those
"At Play in the Fields of the Lord,"
will the sweet fires of justice
be quenched -forever.

Pam Escarcega, 7/93

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