Monday, November 12, 2012

Indian Sunset


We did some necessary Indian Business in Albuquerque yesterday, hooking up with the local tribal township and unexpectedly reconnecting with some of the tribal leaders we haven't seen in a decade or more.

It's a long and complicated story which I don't have time to go into in any detail right now. In the past, though, I've ranted about those who misuse the term "tribal" or "tribalism" to mean mindless loyalty. In Native American Indian society, the concept of loyalty is anything but "mindless." It's just about the opposite.

At any rate, we had a fine time at the Annual Meeting, very well attended by folks from all over the area (some had apparently come from as far away as Phoenix) as well as -- surprisingly -- by the tribal honchos and pooh-bahs who just showed up to say "hey" and schmooze for a while. They were not expected. Some of them we hadn't seen for a decade or more, and then it was in California, so yesterday was like Old Friends Day. Of course this was our first visit with the local branch of the tribe, and they were very welcoming and warm-hearted -- the way they tend to be. They were actually a lot of fun, and some were very funny, too. We met some really fine people, had wonderful food, got together with some folks we were surprised to see again, and we learned a bit about this area's tribal branch -- which has a whole different feel and atmosphere than the one in Northern California. That's how it goes in a tribal society: it's not a monolithic thing. They may share common values, common history, often common relations, but each group has its own character, and we were delighted with the one headquartered in Albuquerque.

Heading back over the mountain, we were driving away from the sunset, but the nearly clear sky in the east was lit up with all the colors of the sunset just the same. It was so subtle, though, it was almost transfixing. The nearly turquoise blue of the sky overhead faded gradually into a paler and paler blue, dusty gray, a pale yellow, into pink and then to orange, into another sort of purplish gray, then finally into an almost pure violet. These are the colors that painters and photographers struggle to capture waiting for exactly the right time of day and conditions -- and failing more often than not.

When we turned off the highway and looked back into the west, a brilliant orange and yellow glow arced over the Manzanos where the sun had set, as if there were a fire dying down, and the sky all around it scintillated with purples and pinks and blues. It was yet another of those gorgeous sunsets New Mexico is famous for, but this time not quite so showy or dramatic. This time it was simple and warming and welcoming.

We still have much more to do but we're getting there...

[This is not my picture, it's an uncredited image from Dialog Santa Fe -- a site which doesn't seem to be in operation at the moment... ]


  1. Yes, Tribalism as it's used is really an insult to people who still live in tribal societies. Some of my Thai friends are from more tribal parts of Thailand too.

    But I guess tribalism has a better ring than bigotry, which is what is really meant.

  2. "Tribal" and "tribalism" are used as lazy slurs by some ostensibly de-tribalized people, and it's just absurd when you're in the midst of genuinely tribal people as I have been most of my life.

    If more people could maintain their inherent -- indeed hardwired -- tribal social organization I think there would be less strife, but then, who would profit from that?

    At any rate, I've been blessed in ways I'm still learning about through my long associations with surviving American Indian -- tribal --societies, and so I don't take kindly to those who use the term as a slur.