Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Had just settled down after a crazy day, when the dogs let me know there was a white truck pulling into our place. A Ute women came to the door and ask if she could take some of the dried oak brush branches she had seen along the fence line near the road. I said sure, and got my shoes back on so I could follow her out and have her show me, worried that some of the branches might be holding up the fence in places. We found some good pieces and I helped her drag them back to her truck as she told me she would be using them for traditional ceremonies, telling me a girl in the tribe was ready for her "puberty ceremony". The branches thrown up on the large mound of dry wood,already in the truck, I took her through our apricot grove, and across the field to show her a long hedge of oak brush, that my husband continually is thinning out.
She was excited, when we found several large dried branches on the ground around the hedge- especially one that showed the signs of lightening, and told me that it was a good fix, burning it- if you had nightmares, though it could of also been that burning a branch with a lightening strike on it, gave you nightmares, though she took it, so my guess would be the first.
Dragging the branches back across the field, she told me the dried oak brush would also make a great fire in our fire pit, that we had walk by in the apricot grove, great for roasting hot dogs as well. Such mixture of the traditional, mixed with the everyday, is something I have enjoyed experiencing living the edge of the Ute Mountain Ute reservation, where the Sleeping Ute, a small mountain range resembles a feathered, sharp nosed Indian with folded elbows, slumbers on the valley floor, the Utes waiting for him to wake, stand and stomp out the white that now reside on their land.
My husband, an attorney, came home when we were still talking, and was just as thrilled to get rid of some of the under brush which would mean less for him to deal with in fire suppression this summer. We exchanged phone numbers invited her to come again when she needs more wood.
After she headed out, Jon told me that according to the Brunot Treaty, signed in 1873, that took even more of the Ute's land and rights, did give them something, the right to hunt and gather on any land, public or private, including ours and my husband says that all the deeds in our area, still state that right, joking that he should point that out to her.
In fact, I have also come to watch for the seasonal gathering that happens here in Southwest Colorado, along with often passing pick up trucks full of dried woods, spring brings gatherings of wild asparagus along the road ditches, the orchards also often throw a seed or two into the ditches, growing trees which gives anyone who wants them, apples and apricots. The fall, the minivans and old pick trucks are parked along the road sides and if you look quick you will see Native families out gathering pinon nuts on spread out blankets under the trees and up in the forests, long dried, lodge pole pines are gathered to be used in building summer houses and tepees for Pow Wows and festivals.