Opinion

Johnny Rustywire: Tribal history recorded in ancestral language





Johnny Rustywire on the importance of language:
The other day I had lunch with an acquaintance of mine, Cecelia Cuch, a Northern Ute, and a friend of hers. He was an elderly Tewa gentleman from Hopiland. We were at a meeting of tribal people in Las Vegas and had taken some time for lunch and found a place to eat. We sat down and waited for our meal, a Navajo, a Ute and an old Tewa police officer.

One of the last places he was assigned to work was the Grand Canyon---Havasupai. Havasupai, in their language, call themselves the People of the Blue Water because of the springs that come out of the canyon walls which are crystal clear and so the pools of water in the canyon all appear blue in color. Havasupai (or Supai as natives call it) is a small village located at the bottom of the canyon along the Colorado River. Their people have been there a long time and so has the village. You can't get to it by car. You have to either hike in or come in by helicopter.

The police officers there work for the BIA. In the village, there is just a single path and the police use four wheelers to get around. There is only one store so everything gets shipped in and the officers assigned there stay in a small place.

Get the Story:
Johnny Rustywire: Kiva Song (Indian Country Today 3/11)