Today we packed up shortly after breakfast and headed for Silver City, NM and friends who used to live in St. Petersburg. Our route took us over a mountain range on AZ-78.
We arrived at the home of our friends, Lisa and Jeanie, before lunch. After unpacking we went to downtown Silver City to see the shops, a park, and have lunch.
After lunch we put on our sun screen and hiked for about an hour on Boston Hill, which is not far from Lisa and Jeanie’s home. There is evidence of former mining sites in various spots on the hill.
We recovered from our hike with some iced tea. Naturally we continued our conversation, catching up on all the news. We went back downtown for dinner and some craft beer.
More From Monument Valley
When I wrote about Monument Valley, I mentioned that our tour guide, Margie, told us about the Navajo culture. Here are some of the things she told us.
One of the stops on the tour was at a hogan. A hogan is a dome structure with dirt floor built of logs and covered with wet sand. Margie told us she grew up living in a hogan with her parents and eight siblings. They slept on sheep skins, which they shook out every day to clean them. She said, in Navajo, they pronounce the word, ho-wan, which means, “for all the people.”
When Margie was 7 she was sent away to boarding school, because there wasn’t a local school. At the boarding school they wouldn’t let the children speak Navajo. If they did, they had their mouths washed out with soap. (This wasn’t that long ago; I think Margie is about my age.) The students had to learn and speak English. At the school she learned washing, ironing, and house cleaning, These were all skills she hadn’t learned living in a hogan.
Margie has a cell phone, but just uses it to make calls. Her son, who is in his 20s, has a smartphone and tells her, “Mom, you gotta get modern.” We talked about how technology is accelerating the extinction of native cultures.
She explained that all money given to the tribe by the US Government is paid to the national council. The national council distributes the money to each of the 110 chapters. Individuals who need assistance with projects, such as adding a room to their home, must apply to the local chapter. If the project is approved, the chapter funds the construction. She said many other tribes are not set up this way. The monthly government stipends are paid directly to the individuals, just like Social Security. She believes the alcohol and drug problems among Native Americans stem from this regular supply of ready cash.
I’m really glad we got her to open up and talk about her life and culture. We learned a great deal.
Tomorrow is church, touring, and more conversation.