In a Navajo hogan, Monument Valley 1973
After we gave this man a ride to his mother's hogan in Monument valley, we were invited inside. A very rare privelege. But this is a troubling image for me. It's not the world of R.C. Gorman's romanticized, stylized Navajo; nor is it the world of Edward S. Curtis's noble sages (no trace of savagery in his extraordinary images). It was not the world I wanted to see. The previous night we camped on the reservation. In the middle of the night we heard a thud. In the morning there were two dead horses beside the road-- evidently hit by a truck. A great loss for someone we'll never know. Life was, and still is, hard on the reservation, and that hardness was etched in his face. (The 2002 drought took a terrible toll on livestock.) He didn't fit our urban preconception of the the wise, spiritual Native American living in harmony with nature. But if you let go of that preconception and look beneath the surface, you will find spirit in abundance. It's not easy. I catch only fleeting glimpses.

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Copyright (C) 2000 by Norman Koren