on July 2, 2009 by alchemystic in American Downbeat, Comments Off
Cortez(what we need is rain)
This year I was going for it in a big way, two workshops back to back. I had planed this for months’ and to say the least, disappointed, learning the first had been canceled. With non refund able tickets I decided I would head out to Cortez on my own. I flew in late afternoon, on a twin engine prop, and was met by the hotel van. Cortez is a small little town that had gotten a little bigger since the last time I was there. The Ute Mountain Ute’s had built a Casino just out of town. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe, independent of the Ute tribe, came here as a band of renegades, not willing to be under the thumb of the US government. They had split off from the Utes as the indian wars ended, confining the tribe to life on the Reservation. At the time this act of defiance was punishable by death. They hid out behind Ute Mountain, and by the time they were found, were too strong for the Government to enforce the rule of law. To avoid another war, The Government instead, declared a new Indian Nation. They are a tribe diversified, with holdings in cattle, timber, and farming. I was able to spend a couple days on the reservation with the Vice Chairperson, learning the history of the tribe. Although this Casino was to provide prosperity for there people, it had an opposite effect. Profits were dispersed among the tribe, all members got checks. On the surface this seems to be a good thing, the reality entirely different. It became difficult for the tribe to man there farming, cattle, and Timber operations, The free Casino money left many members of the tribe content to just drink. The reservation begins west of Mesa Verde and continues on to the back side of Ute Mountain. George and I had gone to Mesa Verde after a week camped in Johnson Jon’s Slim Canyon. Coming into an controlled National Park, after our time in such a wild place was disappointing. We arrived during the rains and found the park to be almost empty, we had the place to ourselves, but frustrated, not being able to explore. The National Park system limits access to the sites, and with good reason. These ruins are fragile. The Ute Mountain Ute Tribe only allows small groups at there ruin sites, and watch them closely. Everywhere you step there are artifacts. You are not allowed to take anything from this place, but people seem to have a need to disturb these relics. Coming down a trail I was amazed, walking up to a large bolder. The visitors to the Reservation had taken artifacts, lying on the ground, and placed them on this large rock. There were literary thousands of pottery chards on this bolder, put there by visitors. From the beginning on these Reservations, great effort was made to bring the Indian people to modern ways, by way of religion, by way of medicine, To trash all there beliefs, so much was lost. I was told of Medicine Men from both tribes, The Utes, and the Ute Mountain Utes, getting together and trying to fill the blank spaces of there culture that had been lost. The knowledge of medicinal plants, native to this land had become fragmented through the years, and there hope, was by this association between the tribes, this knowledge, in time, will be restored. These efforts of our government, of business, to provide prosperity, to provide a better life, at the expense of culture, have been empty promiseses. I heard a chief once said “We hear the thunder,we see the lightning, but what we need is rain”.