After leaving the canyon we headed out towards the Hopi and Navaho reservations. Together with my girls we've read all the Little House books, full of Ma's extreme racism and fear towards the Indians. We've read all of Kaya's books and studied Indian folk medicine and traditions. But in all of that I guess I had neglected to mention what Native American life is like in this country today. So here we were on the Hopi reservation in a coffee shop ordering fry bread and hominy stew when the girls asked where the Indians were. We were the only non-Native Americans in the place. So I said, "Everyone in here is Native American." and they responded, "Why are they wearing modern clothes?" Oops. Somewhere along the line I obviously missed my duty to inform them that they are no longer living off the land, communing with animals and living in teepees. Although, we often did discuss how the White man stole their land and put them on reservations. Apparently in their mind they still thought they were living the same way they always had, just on a lot less land than they used to.
There was a family in the booth next to us in the coffee shop with a young daughter around 3 in a floral sun dress and an infant in a plastic baby carrier. The baby had a tube in her nose taped to her cheek and had a plastic baby bottle with formula propped up on a blanket that she was drinking from. My 9 year old looked at me and said quietly, "They don't even nurse anymore either?" We all sat there quietly pondering how this could have happened - all within just over 100 years.
Back to the feel-good version of the Native Americans. The following photos were taken at the "Hopi House" at the grand canyon. It was designed by a white woman from Minnesota who tried to make it as 'authentic' as possible. It was beautiful and lent itself to great vacation photos. The gift shop was located at the ground floor- oh, and it did sell real Hopi basketry for around $200 a basket. They were sold right next to the $7 ones of the same size and quality, also handmade, but in Pakistan. Another doozy to try to explain to and 8 and 9 year old that innocently ask, "Why is this one $7 and this one $200?" Anyone out there want to field that one? Parenting the under 7 year old was sooo much easier than this. How I long for the days of, "Hmm, I wonder..." That so does not fly any more. Now, they are really wanting to know, but the answers are so darn complicated I can't even understand it myself and when I do grasp the real reasons on some of these things they are so heartbreaking I can't possibly fathom telling my children at this age that mankind really is that cold and driven by greed and money. I mean, how do you tell a child that in a capitalist society money is more important than people, clean air, clean land, healthy food, a healthy body, dignity and well, pretty much any thing else you can think of?