I have never met friendlier people than the Navajo but making true freinds takes time. As I prepared to come to the reservation in Chinle, I asked a Native American friend if he thought people would accept me here. His advice was to just be myself. Native Americans, he suggested, would judge me by my authentic nature.
We have been here two years. I have heard that the Navajo are so used to people coming and going that they are slow to make freinds with Anglos who they believe will be gone in the year. After about a year and a half here I heard someone call my name in the supermarket. Really? Were they calling me? It began to happen more and more in the Post office and parking lot. At the rodeo. I was meeting classmates from weaving class, people form the college adminsitration, others I met in the community. I have been invited into some homes, to ceremonies. I am beginning to make freinds.
Two days ago I got a call. "Karen, we found a treasure. We thought of you first. Can you come out today or tomorrow?"
It turned out they had found the rim of what looked like a near perfect pot on their property near Canyon de Chelly. The rains have been heavy lately and had unearthed a hint of this treasure. I helped to gently clear away the dirt. They joked that they should have brought their tooth brushes. Grandma broke off some rabbit brush to help clean away the dirt. Slowly a lovely white clay pot emerged. There was some discussion about how old it might be. Before or after the Anasazi? Before or after the basket pottery?
Look someone suggested this is a fire pit. How did they know? Their was much laughter as they pointed out I was sitting in the ashes...ashes from ages ago.
And the interlocking design.
My friends pointed out where they guessed there must be a kiva under our feet. They noted the hint of a circle of bricks where we stood and showed me how far the accross their land the entire "village" must have extended and still lies burried. Years ago someone found an entire skelton of a woman from ages passed in that area. Imagine living surrounded by the daily lives of the ancient ones, walking over their dwellings...being that connected to what has gone before. I could almost breath in the spirit of life of past civilizations.
This family has blocked the main road leading to their compound to protect what lies beneath. It is the easier for them to use this road but they have made a new way to their home so they will not destroy this sacred area.
This is our second season of monsoons here in Chinle. The rains green up the desert and I notice the changed landscape after each rain that moves earth and stone and also uncovers treasures.
Treasures indeed! Friendships and the sharing of a sacred moment.