Today marks my last full day in Tuba City, Arizona, completing my stay at 5 Amizade sites. I still have so much to show and say about the Navajo Nation and the surrounding landscape. Perhaps I should end this adventure with some really significant post, but instead, being in some denial, I want this to feel like a normal day, as if there will be another tomorrow here. I think that I will be back soon, but I have had that feeling at all the incredible places I've visited.
I have often posted photos of men and women from the various countries I have visited. In some countries it was easy to snap pictures and in others, people showed great reluctance. It often required some combination of stealth, luck or money to get a good shot. However, nothing is more rewarding, fun and easy than taking pictures of children. They love the camera and are forever amazed and excited, when seeing themselves captured in the moment.
The top photo of Navajo children taken at the Tuba City Boarding School could be a school scene anywhere, except these youngsters are in a unique struggle. They are not from immigrant families that have come to America from a different culture to learn English as second language and a new way of living. They seem aware as natives of their unique place in this land's history and have to make sense of it. Even at a less conscious age, there is already an internal pull between respecting, learning, and following traditional ways and the seductive lure of the anti-cultural, "modern" world.
The second photo of my host's daughter Talisha and her friend show me smiling faces . Both children understand Navajo, don't speak it fluently yet, but are being taught. Each also have learned dances and have beautiful traditional dresses which they wear at festive occasions. They will probably, as they grow older, leave the reservation. The question remains if and whether they will ever come back.
The boy in the third photo helps his father at a jewelry stand by an obscure local attraction which featured genuine dinosaur footprints preserved in rock. This youngster gave me a tour of his turf and was quite the expert in explaining various markings. He told me he lived nearby and claimed that he didn't go to school. What will become of this young Navajo? I'm told, Arizona is last in America in teacher-student ratio, in standarized testing scores, money spent on education and first in the nation in people below the poverty line. I'm not sure this is all accurate, but clearly, if it is even in part true, what are the chances this young fellow will become an archeologist? Many of my successful friends laud themselves about how hard they worked to succeed financially and often point out that opportunities are available for the disadvantaged as well. It is said that there is no excuse for poverty.
Take a moment to look at the desolate landscape in the background. I mean this figuratively and literally. What do you think?