Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chili Yazzie asks: Who will be on the spaceship to the new world?

Photo Credit: Robert Esposito

Stephen Hawking, regarded as one of the greatest modern day scientific thinkers on the realities of earth and space says the human race has only 100 years to find a new planet and to relocate. He suggests that life on this planet will come to an end because of climate change, nuclear war and viral genetic diseases.  So according to Hawking there are only 4 generations left. 

Going to a new planet sounds so far-out-there, science fictional and unrealistic, but science and technology say it’s possible. Who will be on the spaceship to the new world? It is not going to be us “regular folks”, if it happens, it will be the billionaires and millionaires.

America as much of the civilized world is hooked on extractive energy development, the addiction is fatal as it is killing the planet. And just like with any addiction, it craves more and more. The physical addiction is further driven by the gluttony to make more money profit. The Navajo Nation as an energy state is also hooked and contributing to the reality of climate change. Our Navajo leadership demonstrate that addiction by frantically looking for ways to keep Navajo Generating Station running and also appearing to be to be in favor of the dastardly business of fracking.

I understand that the current level of extractive energy development around the globe is already beyond the limits of what was considered “safe” in terms of realizing the opportunity for extended life of the earth. And that any new development will only accelerate the end of life of the earth. The advocacy to oppose new development is not to be against the livelihood of people, but to advocate for the extended life of the planet. 

From a traditional Native perspective, we have some understanding of the actual physical and spiritual damage that is being done to the earth with massive mineral extraction. We willingly take part in hurting the earth, then we talk about honoring the Earth Mother and how we should walk in beauty on her. Makes me wonder how those who pray with the corn pollen or sit at the sacred fireplace justify their support for hurting the earth….for those that do. The other great contradiction is, we say the future belongs to our grandchildren and generations to come; by participating in killing the earth, we are also killing the future of our children.

Chili Yazzie

Shiprock, Navajo Nation

Sunday, April 23, 2017

A Fiction for Earth Day 2017 Part III

Penumbral Eclipse (cont'd)
by Frances Madeson

By the time we got back our scouts had returned with their report: A loner who emerged from his cabin infrequently. Firewood, food, elimination. At daybreak it was his habit to amble to an outhouse down a well-marked path from the cabin set in a copse of Ponderosa pine. 

That’s where we’d do him in.

Every night, from one moon to the next, as my belly swelled with the future, we wolves tunneled under trees, digging with our paws until bloody, claws raking the roots. The last time I’d moved dirt was for my pups’ den. I dug deeper now.

As I burrowed into the loamy soil I thought about their sire. That day, I'd had no idea what he was running towards. I never will.

Finally, we were ready to fell the trees. 

As he always did just after daybreak, the human emerged from his cabin and headed for his throne. We had three teams. On a signal we’d fling ourselves against the tall pines and let gravity, the wind, and other unseen forces do the rest.

The first tree snapped and crashed down fast just missing the roof, landing inches in front of the door barring the exit.  The second sliced the shitter in half, instantly killing the trapped human with a death blow to the skull. And the third, though it teetered as it fell, landed on the bullseye, smashing him down into the latrine.

Then we howled. Which would have been the end of the story, but we had to deal with all the others in the back of the truck, a reality which brought everyone a lot of pain to contemplate. 

We pulled the tarp off of the vests and jackets fashioned from our packmates, and spread them on the flatbed, under a sliver of a full moon. We bowed our heads and asked for guidance.

Five sharp puffs of black smoke escaped the chimney, followed by a long curl of white. The cabin door, unfastened, banged noisily. Inside the hearth fire roared. 

I don't remember any talking. I don't remember a decision. 

We laid the pelts in a single line right up to the hearth, placing the last one in the fire. The fur sparked and the fire spread to the next coat as we’d hoped. 

Outside, we howled the devil down as our dead took their revenge, and the house with its wealth of weaponry burned down to gray ash. 

Saturday, April 22, 2017

A Fiction for Earth Day 2017 Part II

Jewelry by LTY Design, Placitas, NM

Penumbral Eclipse (cont'd)
by Frances Madeson

After that I really didn’t think I’d ever mate again. But later that Spring someone new came bounding into my life. His coat was the darkest I’d ever seen. As if he’d rolled in a carpet of night sky, brushed off the moons and stars, and emerged cloaked in a glistening blackness. 

Something else unusual about him, he’d been collared and tagged with a signal box. We soaked it in the river, I tried tearing it off with my teeth. We never gave up. When we weren’t hunting and eating we were soaking and gnawing. He kept thanking me over and over for trying, though it couldn’t have felt good, me tugging and gnashing, sawing away until my jaw ached and I was forced to rest.

When the thing finally fell with a thud to the earth, we nuzzled unimpeded neck to neck. He couldn’t get enough of that. More of a yipper than a howler, he yipped it up, while running around with it in his mouth looking for some deep dark hole down which to drop it. Finding none, we dug our own. From then on we were free, from then on we were inseparable.

It had been a year of heavy losses, not only my own but others we’d gotten wind of. Pain to go around many times over. We were hoping for a fat litter to replenish our spirits and ranks. When my heat came on, I lifted my tail for him, exposing my desire. He licked between my legs ardently, mounted me from behind, thrusting himself into the wetness. A dozen hungry eyes watched us, wanting to climb on, put it in, and lock on.

A few weeks later, we were out after dark scouting a place for a new den when we saw a human habitation in the distance, smoke coiling out its chimney. I instinctively turned away but my mate was curious, and stubborn. 

You’re looking for trouble—I called after him. Calling down Orion. 

I stayed up on the ridge, steeling myself for barking dogs, gunshots, mayhem. Just as he approached the human’s truck, the front door of the cabin flew open and a massive male lurched out. Unseen, my mate leapt into the flat bed, slipping under a tarp, and stayed down low until the two-legged was out of sight. With something heavy draped over his back, held fast in his teeth, he raced back, near flying across the arroyo. The thing he’d toted, he dropped at my feet.

One of many—he said, still panting. 

A human garment, half cow hide, half wolf pelt (more gray than sand, rust, juniper bark brown and cumulous white).

We have to warn the others—he said, eating snow for sustenance.

Usually surefooted, I faltered several times on the way, careless missteps, my head working overtime about this discovery. By the time we returned I was persuaded of two things: that the pelt was my former mate’s, that this act would be answered.

Every able-bodied wolf in the Gila answered the rallying call. I'd never been in one place with so many alphas, males and females. I knew we’d have to make this quick.

An elder asked—What’s to stop us from tearing him apart? He wouldn’t stand a chance against us all.

Retribution—someone wiser answered. If a wolf is even thought to be involved we’ll all pay with our lives. They’ll wipe us out completely, no mercy. 

Right—I said with my mate at my side. No evidence can be left behind when we destroy him.

We agreed to send our best scouts to observe the human’s behavior over three sunrises and sunsets; then we’d devise a plan. 

In the interim we mourned our pack mate all over again, doubling down on our grief at what had become of this fine alpha dog. We all had our memories: mine were written on my body, on my senses, on my scent glands. 

Together with our progeny, I traveled back to the old den. We buried the remnant of his fleeced life there, honoring him where we lost him. 

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Fiction for Earth Day 2017

Demonstration Drawing: Seated Figure, Tony Ryder, 2016, graphite on paper

Penumbral Eclipse
by Frances Madeson

That night the lambent moon was shrouded. A pinch of light subtracted, barely noticeable unless you spend time, as we do, contemplating the moon. It was a moon like this one above—partially in shadow, its glow subdued. Our faces pressed together, more gray whiskers in his soft beard than sand and rust, juniper bark brown and cumulous white.

He said—the reason you like me so much is because I lick you a lot.

We had slipped outside from where our babies lay sleeping curled into each other like pole beans on a vine, the strange dark moon had beckoned. Its luster died in my mate’s eyes like lightning bolts absorbed by the red-rocked mesa. I fell mute at the thought that he didn’t know, or was pretending not to know, all the other reasons I liked him so much.

Eyes half closed, he sent up a howl to Orion’s Belt, or just below it, urging the stars to burst the confines of their constellations.

Remember when I first licked you?—he asked. Remember my tongue sliding over your surprised face, your ears, stroking your chin, bathing you in wetness and warmth.

I remember. Your breath came fast and hot, a potpourri of lavender and Russian sage. Your eyes alchemized from bright silver discs to incandescent orbs of gold.

Silver to gold? You never told me that. You never said.
You never asked—I whispered as I grazed his ear, scraping loose with my teeth a goat head burr buried deeply in his winter’s coat.
Give me your tongue now—he said. Lick me while I’m licking you.

Our tongues stroked and slathered, we nibbled each other’s faces, communing in our own lingua franca. Head thrown back, Go-o-o-old—he cried. The wind had died down. Above us an owl flapped, hopping on a branch, a harvest of cones fell at our feet.

He was hunted the next day, shot through the head. Hunted, and disappeared.

My gut had rumbled and cramped all morning—empty, a few sips of water was all I could hold. I let the others have my share of the day’s kill; I puked up the excess adrenaline. While they feasted on fresh elk meat, I hallucinated a predator behind every cottonwood tree.

When we heard the blade slap of the chopper in the distance I cried out—Hide, don’t run. Go underground. We’d discussed this and many other scenarios, as beings who are intermittently under siege do. I shooed the babies back inside the den, telling them others would follow, and to make room. Tight quarters until the threat passed over, but the snow was melty from a full day of sunshine and our tracks would be obscured in the slush. We’d be safest in our subterranean hideaway.

I'll come soon—he said, running toward danger.

Huddled with my wild little ones, we covered our ears, the babies mewled and yelped. Soon my brother came in grave and glowering, with one glance I felt his message, which was no less devastating for being brief.

They got him, took him. His blood pools on frozen ground.

Show me where.

We walked past the helicopter’s ruts, past Orion’s giant bootprints, toward a bloody stain on a field of snow saturated with my worst fears. Something else, a small object on a mound just beyond. My love’s tongue, still pink, shot clean out of his mouth.

We had a plan—I said approaching his sole remaining body part. But this wasn’t it.

Too shocked even to keen, I left it there for the circling raptors.