Fresh back from a visit to New Mexico, and am compelled to share thoughts about the profound feelings generated as I encountered native Americans at Taos and elsewhere in that great state.
As Buffy Sainte Marie stated in one of her moving songs, there was, as we all know, but rarely acknowledge, “a genocide basic to this country’s birth”. Actually, the predation and destruction, often cynically cloaked as paternalism, continued far beyond the birthing stage of our nation.
Knowing all that, it is quite moving to encounter some of this continent’s native people living in millennia old communities with their spirit and culture intact. It is remarkable that these people survive in any fashion whatsoever given the campaigns of extinction waged against them. For them to be thriving (albeit, not in all instances) is a tremendous tribute to the strength of their human spirit, and the soundness of their philosophical approach to life in the natural world.
One wonders what will be our state of our Anglo culture after we have been here for thousands of years.
One fairly recent book that provides thought-provoking insights into the history of native Americans in what is now the State of New Mexico is Blood and Thunder: The Epic Story of Kit Carson and the Conquest of the American West, by Hampton Sides. For a beautifully written and succinct capturing of New Mexico, read Tony Hillerman’s essays, in New Mexico and the Rio Grande.