Thursday, September 28, 2006

sharing culture and vist to Tohono O'odham

am weeks behind on posts as I am now in NY.I just have been so busy , this is the first chance I have had to update! Here is a quick update of time since the Grand canyon.I can not possibly include everything , but I hope this gives a feel.
Deidre and I came back and held a wonderful day workshop on some of the ways of using narrative in healing work with trauma stories, specifically in an Indigenous context. The day was well attended and the people who came were all wonderful. It was a deep experience for us all.
The workshop was filmed by the folks at UA, from "", so at some point the whole thing will be online along with study notes and references. The folks , Lu,Anne and Claudia from Arizona Native Net, have started a wonderful project. It will be a good resource for anyone interested in Indigenous issues across all areas. Go have a look !
Deidre Left the next day( FOR Australia), and then I went on to offer a few more talks and sharings:One on " cyber E learning and digital story ",and then an evening of films. The films I screened were " Yella Fella" , "Green Bush " and the " US Deadly MOB".
The first two films were courtesy of Caama Films ( Central Australian Aboriginal Media Association ).The last was a short I made with my friends whose story it is
( Val Saunders and James and Amber Mercy ). After we had plenty of time for questions. It was a fantastic night and I gathered comments as well as some interveiws with folks as to their reactions.Everyone LOVED the films.

People are very interested in Australia and Indigenous Australian stories here. I am also struck again and again by our shared experiences and also the layers of issues. These of course are things I will go into more depth in my actual thesis work and will be sharing when I return.

I also met with the folks from the " Global Health Alliance network " through Public Health.Again very inspiring and dedicated people, including a wonderful woman who is the director , MS Brenda Manuelita. These folks specifically try and work with the issues of "Health disparities" in various communities , such as the Navajo (north of Tucson) and the people caught in the border issues with Mexico and USA( to the south).
I was very impressed with the program they have.I was also pleased to see the idea of using digital story as a tool in community health projects is something being embraced here.Thus we had many conversations about this area of shared interest.

I am very impressed overall with the University of Arizona and would recommend it to anyone . The American Indian studies program is one of ,if not the best in the country! and I felt the same with the public health program and also the Anthropology dept. I am so happy that SCU,( Southern Cross University) , my home university in Lismore is forming an official realtionship/ exchange with the UA.
I hope this will lead to richer outcomes and projects where we can work together and learn more about each other and become firm allies .I suspect I have chosen well in my choices of Universities as I am now at NYU and I am feeling this is also one of the most incredible places I could be. The Media , culture and History department under the wonderful guidance of Faye Ginsburg and Fred Meyer is totally inspiring. But , more on this soon!

Another wonderful outcome of my visit to Arizona is becoming involved in a " round table " of national and international researchers and community workers on the topic of " historical Trauma and recovery " and for me this was a highlight of my visit , to feel a positive outcome and possible continued involvement in this area.

Next , we have some photos of my visit to the south , near the border , to Tohono O'odham community college and community. I have just thrown in some general pics of the class and also the logo of the college .Then there is one pic here of me meeting and thanking one of the wonderful Elders I met , Mr Danny Lopez. I was made so welcome here and learnt so much in such a short time. I truly felt at home. I was also shown around the community and the pic with me with camera is at this special site where a wonderful new cultural centre is being realised. The mountain in the background is one special to the community and one of the reasons this site was chosen.
I also met a group of accomplished basket weavers and artists and had wonderful conversations with all I met.
I hope to return one day , as this place and people really touched my heart and the land is so deep and special. The desert so alive.
Ok , that's it for now , as you can see , my life is a whirlwind of action . I am so blessed and this really is only a glimpse.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Deidre, my good friend from home( OCEAN SHORES), arrived from Oxaca Mexico to join me here for a week. We had the long ( LABOR DAY ) weekend and a couple xtra days to go for a journey .After the white mountains, we headed north for the Grand Canyon. These pictures can never convey the incredible sight this place is. The word AWESOME, DEFINTELY suits. We spent the day till late at night driving , then walking around the south rim. These few shots are of the furthest point we reached on the south rim. I had been here 25 years ago, so for me it was very special. The tower is incredible and full of paintings and the design inside is really special. AT Sunset we headed to a spot the locals had told us would be quite and not crowded. We had it basically to oursleves and sat and watched the sun set and the sky and rocks and canyon change in color. It truly does touch something in your soul. I hope one day that you can see this place for yoursleves.
later we drove and stopped at the IMAX and watched a movie on the history of the Grand Canyon. It was great to see , but we were disappointed to not see credits or acknowldegement to the local Native/ caretakers of this land , nor any mention of whose country it is on ? such as NAVAJO? Hopi ? We were both puzzled by this.

We drove back to Flagstaff at around 10pm ,very tired and so we managed to become lost again, for a good hour within 5 mins of where we were booked in to stay.Funny, if your not tired ! Flagstaff is a fun place and we enjoyed real coffee and some cooler weather and the locals we met and talked with were wonderful and interested in Australia. The town has a very outdoors feeling, and is also a bit touristy. However it really had a nice feel about it. We Stayed in the cheapest place in town and the owner was a lovely Indian man and we felt very comfortable.We had looked at other places ,more expensive and they were nowhere near as friendly. We were sad this night as we found out Steve Irwin (THE CROCODILE MAN) had died. No matter what you may say about Steve,he certainly lived a vibrant life and defintely cared about animals . It is just a VERY sad thing to die tragically like he did and leave 2 small children and a wife behind. Next stop SEDONNA.

Monday, September 18, 2006

trouble in blog land

Hello all ,

Just to let you know, I seem to have some trouble with this layout. I sometimes post and things are fine and I edit everything and then hit the "post tab" , then look and things are not how they should be. I have deleted the last post of the grand canyon and the white mountain info ' text " seemd to then merge . I apologise to you all if this is the case when you go to view. I will try to solve it before my next post. In the meantime , have patience , do your best to follow along. I think the technology is imperfect. Or, It could be me , I admit it. Oh well , always more to learn.

oh and here is picture of a little puppy we rescued. we called her COCO PERRO. isn't she sweet!

White mountain Apache journey

I have been so busy I have a lot to catch up on ! The days fly and so much happens. I am skipping some of the finer details as this will be the only way to try convey what is happening. I have had a few weeks full of meetings and journeys. I went to the Pasqua Yaqui community, which was a rich time of sharing and very special . I learnt so much and am impressed constantly by all we have in common in terms of Health and community, education and all the good things we share as well as the hard things. I feel inspired.

Then a week of many presentations to various sites on the university and lots of meetings with people engaged in projects across a range of areas , health and law mostly.

Then Deidre arrived from Oxaca and we travelled up to White Mountain Apache reservation to visit friends.The drive was through very special country, valleys and rushing rivers far below . Winding roads led us higher and higher into cooler places with trees and green.The change from the desert to mountains very stark.

These pictures are of our kind hosts who we were heading to visit with for the day, Avelina Gordon, a wonderful mother and Grandmother who made us feel a part of her family.This is how people are here ,very generous and warm.
We had a good go at making fry bread( A bit similar to damper , but fried on the fire in a lot of lard ), and then we feasted all afternoon. I do like that fry bread , especially with honey. Avelina's sisters and some of her daughters and Grand kids came and this was wonderful for us. They had been at a special ceremony that weekend and it was just the end of it .We were in the atmosphere and this was very touching to us.
We headed up the road 20 miles or so later in the night and stayed at the HON-dah Casino , which was the only accomadation available .The celebrations meant it was packed out and all the motels were full.
It was a wild place , teeming with activity. Not only gambling , but also a great show from LA with cool retro blues , Motown and roots music.
We had interesting conversations about the role of the reservation in owning the Casino and the effects on community and what people think if this. It is a very different scene to the gambling scene in Australia and the Casino's have many pro's and Cons it seems. Some good things , some not so good. It would be good to do a comparison study on the various issues arising. Self determnination , economic self management , community health , levels of problem gambling. The role it plays .

We also talked with people that we met from other areas about a whole range of issues and learnt more about the story of the ceremony.I feel I am learning things every day from everyone I meet. The time here is very rich, Arizona has really been so special.
This was just the beginning of our 5 day journey .It was the long weekend for labor day, so it was a busy time to travel. We did ok in the hire car , driving on the wrong side of the road with a very basic map ! testing our patience at times and making a few wrong turns .Next morning we decided to head for FLAGSTAFF and the Grand Canyon.