All tagged Native American
A couple of years ago, Sarah and I spent a long weekend in Washington, DC. She lived there for several years during and after college, and I always enjoyed visiting the city. Returning to the nation’s capital was a real treat, since a number of new attractions opened since my last visit. While we intended to hit many of them, we instead visited the National Museum of the American Indian several times.
In the gift shop, I came upon a graphic story collection Native American tales, Trickster: Native American Tales. Leafing through it evoked memories of my own childhood, memories of beauty, memories of sunshine filled days, and memories of a gentle man, Larry of the Klickitat Indian tribe, who lifted me upon his shoulders carrying me about and speaking to me, telling me stories. He gave me beautiful memories of a singing, sparkling river, of dry pine covered mountains, of compassion, and love—all memories I hold sacred.
“A lot of the images that I’ve grown up with, that’s kind of how I filter the world, through those images, and images carry meaning for me. A lot of the words I use – that’s the way we talk here [Fort Mohave Indian Reservation], that’s the way I’ve learned to express myself or at lest to try to express myself.”
Hearing these words from Natalie Diaz, author of When My Brother Was an Aztec, in an interview on public radio, immediately caught my attention.
Diaz discussed work she is doing on her Native American reservation to preserve the Mojave language that is threatened by extinction in the overarching present. The subject of language preservation as well as a discussion of When My Brother Was an Aztec, held my rapt attention.
Diaz pointed out when asked about her sense of identity as a Mohave, that her father is Spanish, that she is also Pima and Mohave, and she grew up outside of the Phoenix area.
We had a little bit of everything in our house.
Diaz discussed her passion for writing as a “sense of hunger” within her, her love of basketball, of how basketball became a way to quiet her life – at least somewhat, and the pain of her brother’s meth addiction and how it affected her family altering or nearly wrecking its structure.
Her intelligence and passion for her writing and diverse culture led me to purchase her 2012 book of poems and vignettes, When My Brother Was an Aztec. This slim 100 page volume holds beauty, sorrow and celebration. It’s not a quick nor an easy read, but it is well worth a commitment to reading it.
I could not read this small book of poetry for a sustained period of time. The intensity of each piece does not invite a quick turning of the pages.
Rather, When My Brother Was an Aztec insists on quiet contemplation.