Going “native”

To the hum of tires and the clicking odometer, I find the worries of daily life fading. Windows down, the starship campervan sets out to explore strange new worlds. Jamming to the beat of a Janise Joplin, Jimmy Hendrix, Doors, sound track. “Scotty full speed ahead”. Wearing hiking clothes, iconic sandals, hair a mess, and lacking a clean shave the dirt bag transformation is underway. DSC_0013
It may be the “free candy” creepy van persona, or adventure exploration vibe, but people keep waving. I’ve made sure one of the guys I worked with didn’t put a honk for love you long time sticker on it, or worse!DSC_4635
Rolling into Hueco Tanks, why are there so few campers? Turns out temperatures in the 105F range seems to discourage intelligent people from hiking. Thankful for us I’m not intelligent! The middle of Summer, record high temperatures, a super dry climate, and a ginger from South East Texas. What could possibly go wrong? What’s that burning smell, just me crisping up like a KFC value meal!DSC_4654DSC_4983-2
DSC_4758Hiking in Hueco Tanks requires permits and a short class about preservation and ecology. Cliff-notes, they have some amazing Native American Rock Art. Some of which has been defaced by graffiti. Like that tramp-stamp you got on spring break, the sea turtle that looks more like a constipated walrus, the graffiti can be removed by laser. And like your I love Cindy forever tattoo it takes time, is expensive, and isn’t perfect. DSC_4771
I grew up surrounded by Native American “crafts”, but that’s not we called it. We called it “Indian”. Stopping at any road side vendor with a cigar shop wooden Indian. Adorned in dollar-store headdress we launched suction cup arrows from the draw of a plastic bow. Thankfully I grew up, and in so doing learned about other cultures and beliefs.
Our home was filled with dream catchers, knock off arrowheads, random trinkets, blankets and crafts. One couldn’t escape the cliché wolf howling at a full moon against a back drop of lighting! Home shopping network, made in China “Authentic (Indian) blankets” so real you could get smallpox. Don’t get mad, I’m about to make a point.

This is in every road side store on Route 66. Yes I checked and yes it was made in China!


Let’s clear the air. Little Big Horn, The Trial of Tears, and Smallpox Blankets really happened. Human beings of every skin color, background, nationality, belief, and position have committed Heinous acts. In the spoken history of some tribes are accounts of warfare, and slavery. Not unlike Vikings. Others tell a story of a shy nomadic people, hunter gatherers, who wanted for noting. DSC_5007-2
DSC_4985Staring at well-preserved images I wonder what they meant. Who made them, why, was this a written history, a prayer, a map. In seeking answers I realized, I was asking the wrong question. Not why did this Native American paint this, but why did this person paint this. From rock art, chiseled tablets manuscript, print, or key strokes, this is our story. For better or worse. From the Crusades to humanitarian work, this is our history, our story. Today outside a dinner I saw a sign that said, “be the human your dog thinks you are”. Or for those of you with human kids, be the “Adult” your kid thinks you are. We don’t have to repeat a history of failure!


We were told that this is the only location in North America in which this bush grows. ???


15 thoughts on “Going “native”

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