The Round and Square of It

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October 9, 2019, Aneth, UT-

Any illusion that Native Americans are somehow all cut from the same cloth, or are otherwise a uniform group, was hopefully dispelled, some tome ago.  This is as true, with regard to various aspects of culture, including architecture, as it is to language and  physical appearance- just as it is with people of any large subgrouping.

Hovenweep, a Paiute name meaning “Deserted Valley”, is the site of a large number of mud brick structures, both atop and just below the rim of, Cahone Mesa, in southeast Utah-about 15 miles northwest of this small Dineh settlement.

I last visited this area in 1979, about a month after summer  break began.  There has been an expansion of the National Monument since that time.  For this visit, though, I focused on the Main, or Square Tower, Group of structures.  Outlying ruins will be the focus of a future visit.

The trail around the Main Group is 2 miles long.  The terrain is similar to that of Natural Bridges and other nearby canyons.  A short walk across the table of Cahone Mesa leads to a short, but rugged, canyon crossing, then around to Twin Towers and the Square Tower triad, before snaking back towards the Visitor Center.

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As you will see, the Puebloan architects variously used square corners and round construction, depending on the function of the building.  Squared structures appear to be more for dwellings and the rounded buildings either as kivas or as observation towers of some sort.

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The descent and ascent of Little Ruin Canyon is the most rugged part of the hike around Square Tower Group.  I would rate it as moderate, in difficulty.

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A small heart-shaped rock is visible, towards the rear of this small cavelet.

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Remains of several small homes, on the mesa top, precede one’s arrival at Twin Towers.

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As I approached Twin Towers, a girl of about twelve passed by me, cheerfully in her own experience of the area.  Her grandparents called her back, not so much out of fear, as to ask her to carefully pull a discarded plastic water bottle out of this crevice!  She gingerly did as asked, and had no trouble getting out of the fissure.

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Here are the remnants of Twin Towers.

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Just a few paces from the round towers is another rectangular tower, likely an early apartment dwelling.

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There were several people at Square Tower, as I approached, so care was taken to honour each one’s quiet investigation of this central area of Hovenweep.

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Checkdam is a building where the caretaker of an earthen dam spent his duty hours.SAMSUNG CAMERA PICTURES

These are the structures of Hovenweep House.

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Square Tower is in the midst of the main kivas.

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Below, is a small single family dwelling.

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This is Eroded Boulder House, an example of the effects of the climate change of that era (1200-1300 A.D.)

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There are four areas of Hovenweep National Monument that are accessible by high-clearance vehicles.  One of these days, I will get to those outliers.

Today, though, I had two other visits to make.  I headed out of Hovenweep and made it to this oil and gas-producing community, in Utah’s southeast corner.  Here, I visited for about 1 1/2 hours, with two Dineh sisters, who are caretakers of this small Baha’i Center.  Members of our Faith have lived in Aneth for about fifty years.

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After visiting with the ladies, I am headed to The Farm Bistro, in Cortez, for an early dinner,  then will likely drive back to Prescott.  It’s been a fascinating Fall Break!

Primacy

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January 23, 2019-

I have watched the aftermath of this past weekend’s dustup, involving White, Red and Black activists, talking at, and over, each other- with only a smidgen of understanding, and that coming solely from the Native American elders, who thought drumming and singing a prayer would defuse tension.

The whites started out marching on behalf of banning abortion.  The blacks were mainly stating their beliefs about their being descended from the 12 Tribes of Israel.  The Native Americans were in a sanctioned march for Peace on Earth. The whites and blacks began berating one another, and it is academic as to who started what.  There have been all manner of comments, on all sides and from the sidelines, suggesting that, once again, no one was listening to the others- except the silent, grinning Nick Sandmann who, depending on who was watching, was either standing still out of respect to Nathan Phillips or was grinning in contempt of “an other”.

In reality, it IS disrespectful in Native American culture, to speak to someone who is chanting, praying or dancing in a spiritual manner.  Nick would know this, as, likewise, no  Catholic churchgoer engages a priest in conversation, when the prelate is saying Mass or giving a sermon.

It is also reality for some to stand, often with arms folded, grinning while their eyes flash hatred, as I have often seen when disparate groups of people confront one another.

I saw no hatred in the eyes of Nick Sandmann.  I saw a boy who didn’t want to speak, for whatever reason.  I saw his face momentarily turn serious, and what was going through his mind, at that moment, is known only to him.

Commentators have interpreted the behaviours of various people in the situation, according to what they, the commentators, have witnessed in the past.  I could do the same thing, and note that when I was a teen, my schoolmates and I poked fun at one another, sometimes to the point of invoking anger and tears.  We had one another’s backs when real adversaries attacked us.  Thus, the solidarity, the other day, when the whites, the reds and the  blacks felt threatened by one another.

Gradually, as will likely happen with the Covington kids, many of my contemporaries and I expanded our social circles, to include people of various groups.  Primacy of one group over another does not hold water.  Nick Sandmann, and those of his friends who join in, will start learning this WHEN they sit down with Nathan Phillips, and hear his story.  I hope they listen with both ears-and I hope Mr. Phillips remembers what it was like to be male and sixteen.  In answer to his question: “THIS is our future?”, I can only say:  Yes, sir, and it is also our past.  Intemperance and ignorance give way to open-mindedness and awareness, when the latter are brought to bear, in a loving way.  We are, in the end, one human race.

Yes and No

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November 15, 2017, Prescott-

A fellow blogger posted, this afternoon, that no one is entitled to rights, by decree.  Yes, and no:  Yes, a child has the right to a healthy diet, a safe and warm place to live, a solid, fundamental education and above all, loving adults by whom to be raised.  No, one does not have the automatic right to a mate, a good paying job, a full refrigerator and pantry or a large contingent of friends.  Those are things one earns by dint of character and hard work.

I was raised to know that my parents were  there for me, that I had responsibilities that went with being part of a family, that boys and girls were equal in the sight of God, and that didn’t go away when we reached adulthood.  As much as my immature, flawed self disliked it, I had to wait, a long time, to meet the love of my life.  My mature, flawed self does not regret the wait.

Sometimes, the price of the good in our lives is paid up front- through suffering and seemingly innumerable setbacks  Other times, the good comes first, and, as with the Biblical Job, torments and sorrows follow.  I have learned, especially from my Native American ancestors, that hard times make one stronger and good times make one secure enough to withstand the next set of hard times.  After 600-800 years of collective difficulty, Native Americans are still here.  After 500 years of oppression and distrust, African-Americans are still here.  Woman, collectively, has endured millennia of being regarded as a subordinate being.  She is more present than ever.

Those who say each individual must earn certain rights and prerogatives are correct, to a point.  Let them also, however, consider what rights each man, woman and child has already earned, by dint of character, suffering and, yes, hard work.  To dismiss this, is to affirm the claim of the tyrant, the supremacist.

Relections on Noel, 2016

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December 25, 2016, Phoenix-  I had thought I might be getting out of snow-shoveling this year, but it didn’t turn out that way. No matter- I made do with four hours of sleep, before heading back down here for the final day of Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference.

There was a rather intense seminar on communication between us and those who have gone on.  I have had plenty of messages from Penny, and from other relatives, over the past several years, and was visited by my maternal grandmother, not long after she passed away.  Dabbling in the psychic, which is discouraged by Baha’u’llah, in His Writings, is quite another matter. This presentation was quite informative, however, with regard to the power of concentrated energy.

I also attended a presentation on children in community life, and was confirmed in my own position:  People of all ages deserve to be included in the life of the community, and encouraged in their pro-social dreams and aspirations.  Noting that traditional societies, most familiar to me being Native Americans, have long practiced the full involvement of children in community life, the group concluded this was key to rebuilding society.

I went to the west side of town, to visit some friends.  A couple and their granddaughter were home, so I gave the girl a copy of Abby Wize:  AWAKE”, by Lisa Bradley.  She is very loving to animals, and the story is about a girl who loves horses, so I think it will go well with her.  My other friend was still at a church service, so I rescheduled to see him next week.  Dinner was at a customary place- Mandarin Super Buffet, in the heart of Phoenix.  It was packed, as Chinese restaurants often are, on Christmas night.  The food was fresh and hot, so I was again delighted by Mandarin’s varied and hearty fare.

I had intended to attend a concert, back at the Conference site.  Concert time, however, found me in an intense and wide-ranging conversation with a much-admired mentor, of many years.  As he remarked, when it was time for us to leave:  “There will be other concerts.”

Lastly, it was much easier to get onto my street, and in the house, this evening.  Hope you each had a joyous Christmas.

Turtle Island

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December 5, 2016, Prescott-  Native Americans have always been deep in my heart.  Even before I learned, at age ten, that my paternal grandmother had distant ties to the Penobscot people, of Maine,  there was a closeness that I felt to those who have been here in the Americas, since the last Great Shaking.

I have always loved traditional drumming, the stories that get told at ceremonies around a communal fire and the concept of family being the core of one’s being.  So, it has been a source of great comfort, to see the U.S. Government making more effort to address the legitimate concerns of those who have stood firm against the idea of running an oil pipeline under the Missouri River.  If it’s that crucial, run it elsewhere, away from the river, and the Ogallala Aquifer, which serve not only the Standing Rock Lakota people, but all those downstream- and beyond St. Louis.

I know that many indigenous people have lost their way, and do not, as individuals, represent the spirit of their traditional beliefs.  Neither do  many of the descendants of those who came here from other parts of the world.  The fact remains that there are core beliefs, as to how to address the stewardship of Mother Earth.  Many people regard the northern three-quarters of the North American continent as Turtle Island, as there is a legend that the whole of the world’s landmass, and especially North America, are supported on the back of a turtle.  It is said that the human race is like the turtle, in that we only make progress by sticking out our necks.  Staying inside our collective shells, i.e. comfort zones, gets no one anywhere.

I am proud of all my distant relations for having stood so valiantly, and truthfully, for the good of all.

The Moon Is Green

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March 16, 2016, Prescott- I’ve had an affection for things Celtic, since long before things Celtic became trendy.  My half-English mother forbade the playing of Irish music in the house, but she’s come around to at least allow its play, on the music channels of her cable service.

My own affection for such is part of a lifelong connection with those who are close to the soil.  So, I feel bonds with the indigenous- not only my Penobscot ancestors on my paternal grandmother’s line, but all Native Americans, Inuits, Siberians, Hawaiians, Australian aboriginals and those whom I called, in my childhood ignorance, “the natives” (tribal Africans).

I associate Celts, ancient Teutons, Slavs and the nomadic peoples of the Eurasian steppe with the land, also.  It seems they ravaged one another, in wave after wave, and usually just as the one group was settling into sedentary life, there came the next horde.

That’s been the way of humanity, since we headed up, out of Africa, and wherever else we may have mastered the art of upright mobility, and spread across the continents.  We have so often looked to the other’s yard, for prosperity- or at least for a change of scene. Indigenous people had these conflicts, too, though when the Europeans came to these shores, with visions of commerce and gain, the American peoples were in the process of establishing a peaceful network of trade routes, from southeast Alaska and the taiga of Canada, to Tierra del Fuego, and so many points in between.  It is highly likely that there was trading between the Aleuts and the people of Japan; between the Greenland Inuit and the peoples of Scotland and Norway (even before Iceland was settled); and, possibly, between the seafaring people of what is now northeast Brazil and the kingdoms of western Africa.   Then, too, nobody could hold a candle to the masters of the ocean:  Those who went east, from the Malay Peninsula, and became the Micronesians and Polynesians, or west, and became the Malagasy.

We face, possibly in my lifetime, if not in my son’s, a decision about the proper use of the resources on our planet’s Moon, then those of at least the near planets of our solar system.  Green- the colour of many of our wardrobes, tomorrow, will continue to have different connotations to different people.  Mean green, or gentle green?  Commerce, at any cost, or careful stewardship?  It seems this has gone on, since Croesus minted his first coins, or even since the nations that pre-dated the Great Flood, if one believes in such things.

Where are you, in this debate?  (My Xangan friends, in particular, please know that I don’t take umbrage at contrary opinions, even if I get a little spirited once in a while.)  Express yourselves, and Erin Go Bragh!

Trailheads and Trails, Volume 1, Issue 22: Sunset Crater

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September 28, 2014-  Flagstaff has always been friendly to me.  So, on a Sunday afternoon, I drove up for a brief visit with some Hopis who were in town for a Native American Arts and Crafts Fair, which the Hopi Tribe was sponsoring.  Flag has worked at being more welcoming to Native Americans, over the past twenty years or so, and the mural seen across the street is one small example of the change in attitude.

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There had been a terrific downpour, from Casa Grande to Tuba City, the day before, and Flagstaff had seen its share of the threat of flood waters.  It looked, on that Sunday however, that all was well, in the end. The sandbags were still in place, in front of the municipal courthouse.

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After a latte at Macy’s, one of my favourites in Flagstaff, I headed out to Sunset Crater.  It’s near Wupatki, which I had visited a few weeks earlier.  Sunset is the remnant of a much larger volcano, which erupted full-blast in the 1060’s. The Lava Beds extend for ten miles or so.  Here is a Lava Flow trail, with a view of the San Francisco Peaks in the background.

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From the same trail, Strawberry Crater, five miles to the northeast, is visible.

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The scenery in volcanic parks tends to like like something straight out of JRR Tolkien’s Mordor.  It is an object lesson in the lingering power of volcanic activity.  In the long run, though, the soil is renewed.  That’s important to remember, when encountering scenes like this.  In fact, I learned that the Sinagua people chose Wupatki as a place to build angular pueblos, as a symbol of persistence, in the wake of the Sunset Crater eruptions.  The Hopi believe their Kana-a kachinas (spirits) are associated with the crater and its eruptions.  Navajos and Zuni also revere this peak, as well as all the mountains nearby. Settlers cherished the volcano as well, and actively thwarted a film company’s attempt to blow up the crater in 1929, during the making of “Avalanche”.  As a result, President Herbert Hoover set aside 3,000 acres for the present Sunset Crater National Monument.

The trails in Sunset Crater National Monument tend to be benign and flat. The exception is the cardiopulmonary fitness experience known as Lenox Crater Trail- 300 feet straight up.  The Ponderosa pine regrowth is about 30 years old.

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From the top of Lenox, Sunset Crater is visible, to the east.

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Much more in the way of igneous rock is visible, along the Long Trail, which is less than a mile in length, actually.

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This little crater comes with a “No playing inside” warning.  It is actually quite fragile.

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Some iron deposit is visible, in this broken-off piece of lava.

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Here is a long pit, on the west side of Long Trail.

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Lightning had hit the cracked rock below.

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From Cinder Hills overlook, at the eastern end of the Monument, copper and iron-inflected soil is visible, atop the cones for which the overlook is named.

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With its eponym on the way, I got one last shot of Sunset Crater.  The peak cannot be hiked, due to its sensitive condition.  This is true of a great many volcanoes, both active and dormant.  The danger to peak and climber alike is just too real.  DO HEED THE RANGERS’ INSTRUCTIONS!SAM_2893