Monday, September 18, 2006

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.