Sunday, August 27, 2006


The ancient custom of hunting and gathering ~ Santa Fe style ~

By Julie Carter

It is now on my resume. I’ve been to the Santa Fe Indian Market and I’m still reeling from the experience.

This was the 85th year of the event that began in 1922 as part of the Santa Fe Fiesta celebration. Loosely based on the World’s Fair template, the Indian Fair would serve to celebrate the Indian culture and promote tourism to Northern New Mexico and educate art enthusiasts and collectors about Native American art. At the same time it gave Native Americans an opportunity for a potential customer base not previously accessible.

For tens of thousands of years the southwest climate has allowed generations of hunters and gatherers to hunt game and gather vegetation, escaping the glaciers of ice that covered much of North America. It pretty much works the same way today, at least at Indian Market time.

The hunters and gatherers arrive by car and plane, and I suppose the desperate, by bus. They come wearing more jewelry and fine clothing than most vendors have on display. Their wallets are fat, their smiles are big and while shopping is the given reason for the trip, it is more sincerely a huge social event, giving new meaning to “converging cultures.”

For two days an estimated 80,000 people descend on a city of 60,000. The 200 vendors of the 70s have grown to over a 1,000 screened and verified authentic marketers --allegedly not a rubber tomahawk in the bunch.

Visitors take in incredible amounts of paintings, sculpture, jewelry, music, dance, fashion, food, film and anything else they can get their eyes, ears and hands on.

I was more in awe at the exchange of amazing sums of money than I was at the offered sights. Dropping $20,000 for a custom-made artist-designed concho belt just doesn’t compute. For me that would require a payment book from Ford Motor Company and something new to drive.

I did seriously eye a 50-pound bowl made of solid turquoise but when I started talking to the salesman about a “group of buyers” and having joint custody of the bowl, his finely-tuned customer-appraising antennae folded.

Instead I came home with two pair of cute socks in a little designer paper bag and my friend gathered up a tortilla press – our contribution to the economy of Santa Fe. We were the poor relation trying not to embarrass the kinfolk as we trudged through the big-hatted, Roy Roger-booted, jewelry-flashing crowds.

Area restaurants had people waiting an hour or more and it didn’t seem to matter what time of day it was.

While the market offered a food court full of Indian tacos, fry bread, stews, and a variety of Pueblo cuisine the crowd I followed opted for $35 steaks with the $7 salad extra. I couldn’t help but calculate the number of people I could feed for the price of dinner for one.

After insisting on putting a considerable amount of material wealth back into circulation, people stagger home with dizzy heads, full stomachs, and empty wallets but not without making reservations for their return next year. The $300 a night hotel rooms are booked years in advance and it takes a congressional declaration to reserve one the first time around.

And for those concerned over the serious population decline in recent decades of the Boreal toad in the northern New Mexico habitat, I can ease their minds. Check Santa Fe’s infamous lounge, The Bull Ring. The toads have found new habitat.

© Julie Carter 2006

Old Lessons

by Larry Gabriel

The nice thing about natural cycles like drought is that it gives a new generation a chance to learn some old lessons.

People have known the long-term answer to drought problems for thousands of years. Maybe now is the time to review some old lessons.

The first and most basic among them is that change is inevitable. It really does not matter if we long for the good old days of the early European explorers, or the Old West, or the excess rainy period of the last thirty years. Things change. Longing won't stop that.

Change is nothing to fear. Millions fear the climate is getting warmer. I don't because it is always getting either warmer or colder. People now worry about farms getting too big. Not too long ago the big concern in Congress was about farms being too small. Facts are supposed to change. When the polar ice sheets get close to my ranch, I might worry about that.

The principles on which the world operates don't seem to change much. For example, one of the major principles in this part of the world is that you can't grow much without water. Drought is a good reminder of that.

However, we have the ability to water our crops above the amount of rain that happens to fall in a given growing season, if we want to. People have done it for thousands of years all over the world. It is called irrigation.

An acre foot of water is the amount it takes to cover one acre of land with 12 inches of water. Can you imagine what we could grow by adding that to our usual annual (as little as 14 inches in some areas) moisture from rain and snow? We could certainly avoid most of the impacts of a drought like this one.

You might think that is a huge amount of water, but consider this. Irrigators in South Dakota used only about 300,000 acre feet of water in 1995, applying only about 7 inches of water per acre as a supplement to natural moisture. While these farmers were using barely more than half an acre foot to grow food, golf courses in the Southwest applied as much as 6.5 acre feet of water to grow recreational grass. How many millions of acres they cover, I have no idea.

We know this for sure: irrigated land is worth two to three times the value of dry farmland in the central plains; water is worth money and sells for $500 or more per acre foot in the West; our culture has moved away from viewing water as a valuable tool for production toward viewing it as a source of recreation. Don't get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with recreation as long as you have plenty to eat.

However, there may come a time when things have changed enough that production will again be a priority. I don't know if necessity is really the mother of all invention, but it is a wonderful motivator for accepting and adapting to change.

Historically, the Missouri River Basin produces 62 billion gallons of water a day. The storage capacity of Oahe alone is 23 million acre feet. What should we do with it?

Mr. Gabriel is the South Dakota Secretary of Agriculture

Government Regulation of Sneezing

"The last unregulated human behavior is sneezing!" exclaimed the president's Doctor in Chief. "Sneezing is a leading cause of disease, including the flu. Sneezes need to be regulated, just as we regulate drugs, guns, and pollution. Millions of germs spew out when a person sneezes. The germs whiz out at 130 kilometers (80 miles) per hour! We need to reign in this unbridled sneezing." The Family Association for a Cleaner America endorsed the anti-sneezing regulations. "Sneezing is not only a public menace," it declared in its press release. "Every sneeze is a message from Satan. The devil takes control of your body whenever you sneeze. We should no longer tolerate wild sneezing as something one can't help. Yes you can control sneezing, just as you can avoid fornication, intoxication, and prestidigitation!" The American Civilian Liberty Society has announced its objection to restrictions on sneezing, stating that "sneezing is a natural act." The Doctor in Chief rebutted this objection, saying "Mosquitos are also natural, but we kill them, and properly so." The legislation passed by Congress prohibits any consecutive sneezing (also referred to as "sternutation") with more than three hapchoos. Penalties increase with each extra hapchoo. The law also prohibits saying "God bless you" and "Gesundheit" or "health" in any language (such as "salud" in Spanish). Any person in the United States who says "God bless you" more than three times in response to a sneeze during the calendar year will be subject to a prison sentence. "It is ridiculous to say 'God bless you' for offensive, disease-spreading behavior," said the chief doctor. "We need to change our culture. It used to be OK to be racist in America, and now we see that this was wrong. It's the same with sneezing. It's worse than racism, because it is dangerous and uncivilized. Children should be spanked every time they sneeze." The president signed an addendum to the anti-sneezing legislation, declaring that sneezing is not speech, and the First Amendment does not apply to sneezes. "There is no Constitutional barrier to outlawing and penalizing sneezing," said the President. The Attorney in Chief agreed: "If we can outlaw drugs, we can certainly control sneezing."....

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From time to time, people tell me,
"lighten up, it's just a horse,"
or,"that's a lot of money for just a horse".

They don't understand the distance travelled, the
time spent, or the costs involved for
"just a horse." Some of my proudest
moments have come about with "just a horse."

Many hours have passed and my only company was "just
a horse," but I did not once feel slighted. Some of my
saddest moments have been brought about by "just a
horse," and in those days of darkness, the gentle
touch of "just a horse" gave me comfort and reason to
overcome the day.

If you, too, think it's "just a horse," then you
will probably understand phrases like
"just a friend," "just a sunrise," or "just a promise."
"Just a horse" brings into my life the very essence of
friendship, trust, and pure unbridled joy.

"Just a horse" brings out the compassion and
patience that make me a better person. Because of
"just a horse" I will rise early, take long walks and
look longingly to the future.

So, for me and folks like me, it's not "just a horse"
but an embodiment of all the hopes and dreams
of the future, the fond memories of the past,
and the pure joy of the moment.

"Just a horse" brings out what's good in me and
diverts my thoughts away from myself and the worries
of the day.

I hope that someday they can understand that it's
not "just a horse" but the thing that gives me
humanity and keeps me from being "just a woman."

So the next time you hear the phrase "just a horse"
just smile, because they "just" don't understand.

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