21 Feb 2013
FIRST MEETING WITH NATIVE AMERICANS
more participants at Jenny Matlock's Alphabet Thursday
The first Native Americans I met was during our very first visit to the States in 1971. My American uncle who had married my mother's sister had invited us to show us his country.
And that he did !! In 2 weeks we drove 8000 km (4971 miles) from Madison Wisconsin through North and South Dakota, Mount Rushmore and Yellowstone park, Las Vegas, Flagstaff and finally the Grand Canyon. We also admired the 4 corners and sat there on four States, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona.
I remember then that it was about 4 pm when we arrived in Flagstaff and my aunt wanted to go direction Durango and checked the map. Apparently no problem because there were plenty of towns indicated on the map and therefore also plenty of motels, where we could stop in the evening. What they didn't know was that all these towns were in an Navajo Indian Reservation.
In 1971 Indians were still Indians and not Native Americans and both sides were still like cats and dogs.
We drove and drove and drove through a wonderful desert, in red and sandy colors and yes we passed through the cities mentioned on the map but they were composed of maybe 5 or 6 sheds and a bar. It's strange that after so many years I remember that there had always been a bar. And on purpose because we got hungry and wanted something to eat.
All the way long we saw Native Americans not in the costumes I was used to see in movies but mostly dressed in Jeans and T-Shirts. I was very disappointed ! Hunger made us stop in one of these "towns" parked the car in front of a "Saloon" and opened the swinging doors, just as I had seen in Western movies, but without a single cowboy.
The "Indians" looked at us as if we were ET in person, they probably had never seen a "Paleface" coming in their bar. We were received politely but rather cool and the older men glanced at us with hostile looks. We really didn't feel at ease. But then they realized that we spoke another language then English because we spoke German. Suddenly their attitude changed completely. Now they all came to our table most of them still wearing pigtails, which I found terribly romantic. They welcomed us in English and became very friendly and invited us to share their food.
The only one who was ignored completely was my poor uncle because he spoke English and they immediately had noticed that he was American. We chatted together and it was very interesting. Then two women came unfortunately not in a leather dress and feathers in their hair, but with Jeans and T-shirt and brought us food.
I don't remember what it was, but it was very good and anyway I was so hungry I would even have eaten a roasted rat ! My uncle got nothing. They just ignored him as if he in person had killed all Indians and put the rest of them in this reservation which indeed was very beautiful but nothing could grow here it was just a desert. I don't know how this place is today, they probably all live from tourism but at that time it just was like this, they were very poor. We shared our food with my uncle and then left, still chatting and laughing and promised to come back ! (without the uncle of course)
I remember sitting in the car I was so excited !! I had met real Native Americans ! not movie Indians but real once and the only thing I was missing so much were their headdress !
In my imagination ....The truth was so different !