© COPYRIGHT 2009
by Lin Stone
|All my life I have been fascinated with “Indians.” As a youth I
grew up on several reservations in Arizona, joined in the hunting,
the war games and saturated myself with good food. Oh, the times I
have had. So, I thought, “This will be like coming home.”
No, it wasn’t. 50 years have passed away since last I raced among any Indians. They have changed, and I have changed. My first friendship at Red Earth was struck with a Shawnee. He had been a Marine. He was still a Marine. That mantle rested upon him as visibly as a rainbow. His fingers were nimble as he prepared two dancers for the competition. He used a bundle of technology to hold everything in its place. Each feather, each wing, was precisely placed and he would remind them how to make those parts of the costumes do what they wanted to accomplish. Strings and pulleys and mirrors; it amazed me how much work went into making everything look natural.
When the dancing began, I understood none of it. Where were the deer? Where the leap, the flash of eyes reaching out to present a vision, the touching of the mother? The fault was mine, I’m sure. I’m sure that had I continued my indocrination with one tribe then I should have still understood what was being said on the floor.
Thus I sat there like a Pindo, an observer that could only guess at the meanings being expressed. But beauty, oh beauty flashed in abundance and for hour after hour the beat continued to accelerate until it was a marvel that even the youth could keep time with the tempo and endure. Not even when I was young as a doe and could run for hours across the broken heaves of the desert floor, not even then could I have kept pace with these performers with their legs of steel and hearts of gold.
Way, way back in the early 1900s some Kiowa artists went west and used their brushes to record what they saw of the western tribes. Mistakes were found in almost every scene. They came from homes where tracking skills were required. Their eyes were trained to see the smallest of details. And on top of that, their eyes were trained as artists and perceived purpose and poise, yet mistakes still crept in. How little hope then that my verbal recordings could possibly be accurate enough to withstand earnest study? It was a good thing I had brought my camera. Then I watched the judges. Where they looked, I looked and I pointed my camera in that direction and tried to capture what it was they were most impressed with.
One of the movies I took is already posted on http://www.talewins.com/oklahoma/ and a few more of my better pictures will posted to there or from there, as well.
Later, as we moved through the artwork and there must have been a thousand great artists there, I stopped at the very best shops, and asked the artists for their autographs. You should have seen their eyes light up when I asked. But, why shouldn't they be asked for autographs? They are just as much artists as the finest French masters.
The gourds of internationally acclaimed artist Patti Quin are fully described on her web site at http://www.gourdartoriginals.com/ Each piece of art is unique and cannot be reproduced with the current technology of the human race. You can ask for one "like -- that one." and come reasonably close to what you saw on the page.
It was a welcome surprise to discover that three out of four Navajo artists knew Francis, and we became their instant friends. Most of the artwork we saw at Red Earth was incredibly beautiful and was priced way too low. There were many pieces of sculpture that we could not live without and I expect that we shall go hungry before this month is through. Plus, we got our signals crossed and failed to purchase a beautiful black pottery piece from Maria Andelicia from San Juan Pueblo in New Mexico.
As we approached one stall a weary vendor was coaxing her daughter to massage her back. Marleen slipped uninvited into the stall, laid her belongings down and bid the vendor turn her back to her. She gave that poor woman a massage, and pushed the buttons that stop the pain for days on me. Oh, that poor woman was astounded at how much better she felt, and vendors across the way called out to Marleen that they were either next or wanted to be on the waiting list.
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|Now for the bad news. Red Earth is held in the Cox
center and we must have walked more than half a mile before
reaching the turnstile that lets you into the grandstand, only
to be told we must have tickets, and the ticket booth was about
half a mile away.
We walked ourselves to death before we even saw an Indian.
Anyone with heart trouble had better
Restrooms are hard to find, if not impossible.
The lighting is poor, and in places it is even downright dark in there where evildoers might lurk behind any column or corner to pounce on old men and women. If their were any police there they were in plain clothes and remarkably invisible.
I didn't see any American Indians inside any of the food vendor stalls, but the Indian taco that I ordered was only $7 and it made a meal for a big boy like me. There were plenty of tables to eat at and the chairs were quite comfortable.
Nearby Parking (across the street) was $5
Handicapped parking was not provided.
Bear in mind that all these complaints are lodged against the Cox center, that was built by Euromericans, not the red man.
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