A recap of days three and four on the road.
Stay tuned for more video recaps!
(Click HERE to watch this video on Vimeo).
There were many highlights along our journey from L.A. to Connecticut, but the one that really stands out came at the beginning of our trip when we stopped in New Mexico for gas, and saw real Native Americans. Or Indians. Or whatever you prefer. I personally prefer the term Native American because they were, you know, HERE FIRST. I feel a slight itch to give a long-winded speech about Thanksgiving and the pilgrims here, and all the injustice and oppression the pilgrims spread like a cancer, but I’ll refrain. One, because my family has availed of this holiday since I was a kid, using it as the one day during the year when all of us congregate in one place to spend time together, and Two, because it’s not right to clump people together based on the actions of others, be it a minority or majority of wrongdoers. Just as there were some Germans who protected Jews during Hitler’s rule, I’m sure there were also some pilgrims who protected the Natives during the mass rape, murder, and pillaging that went on even after the Natives TAUGHT THE PILGRIMS HOW TO SURVIVE IN A NEW LAND. A thank-you card would probably have sufficed. Just saying.
So, we’re in New Mexico at a gas station, and I’m dying to see real Native Americans. Of course I’ve seen one before. I’ve seen a few. You know, when they came to my elementary school and talked about their ancestry, tribes, and way of life. But I always had a problem with those school assemblies that corresponded with the quarter’s history lesson. See, we’d get a handful of Indians who’d come to our school and be all Oh Sun God, and Oh Tee Pee, but those people were Christian, and they lived in houses. THAT TAUGHT ME NOTHING. I didn’t want modern-day Natives to come visit and pretend like it was still 1542, I wanted them to talk about how their culture has changed and how they felt about a government that walked all over their basic human rights (though things are finally looking up). Did they vote? What did they name their kids? Where did they work? Did they still speak a different language? Could I braid their hair? You Guys, even as a 10 year old, my frustrations stemmed from the realization that I was too far ahead of my time. NO ONE UNDERSTOOD ME.
So back in New Mexico, I kept a look out for anyone who looked like a Native. I couldn’t bear the thought of completing our cross-country trip without meeting a person whose ancestors were responsible for the creation of lacrosse! The Boss had seen plenty of Natives during his drive from Northern Virginia to L.A. last year, and he even asked a woman about her race. According to him, he told the woman that he wasn’t from around the area, didn’t mean to sound rude, but had seen lots of people who looked like her, and was wondering if she could tell him a little about her ethnicity. Apparently, she was really nice, told him what tribe she came from, and even gave him a quick run-down on the other tribes in the area, and how to differentiate who descends from which tribe. I was so jealous, You Guys! I wanted to know how to differentiate, too! On various stops through Arizona, and New Mexico, The Boss told me he was certain I’d see someone.
“How will I know?” I asked.
“You’ll know,” he said. “Trust me, you can’t miss them.”
Well, I did miss them. At least three of them. The Boss would nudge me in the arm when someone walked by, but by the time I turned around, they were gone.
“Did you see?” he’d ask. “That guy was a Native American.”
Finally, understanding that my cognitive skills did not allow for me to turn my focus from the bean and cheese burrito that was in my hand to the Native American standing four feet in front of me fast enough, The Boss changed his approach. This time, he saw two Native’s standing outside, gave me ample notice, and then opened the door so we could walk passed them and to our car. I didn’t even try to play it cool, I just stared. At both of them. They had smooth red skin like clay (no, I didn’t touch them, stop it) ink black hair, almond-shaped eyes, sky-high cheek bones, and strong builds; both the men and women looked tough! They looked at me, and I at them, and we all smiled at eachother wide-eyed. When The Boss and I got to the car, I couldn’t stop laughing.
“What?” he asked.
“Did you see how we were all just staring at each other?” I said. “I wish someone could have heard everyone’s thoughts right then, you know, ‘cuz I was all, ‘WOW! A REAL INDIAN!’ and they were probably all, ‘WOW! A REAL MUZLIM!’”