Living at the Mercy of the North Wind

They say that home is where the heart is. If this is so, my heart must be of the restless variety, for I’ve changed the location of home some forty plus times during my adult life. Apparently I’m not finished yet.

It’s September, and Mohave Desert heat is still intense here in Laughlin, Nevada. But lately, in the glow of predawn, I detect the faint howl of the north wind. Much like Vianne Rocher, the enigmatic chocolatier in the 2000 movie Chocolat, I’m feeling the irresistible urge to move on once more. Like Vianne, I’m an athiest, a free spirit, and no matter where I attempt to plant roots, the north wind follows. It may be still for a year or two, but without fail, it returns. Beckoning, urging me to pack up and hit the road once again.

Perhaps my unrest is the result of a keen sense of history, combined with empathy for displaced, conquered, and marginalized people. Hailing from the land of the Lakota, Pawnee, and Omaha, my parents moved the family southwest to Arizona in 1955. There, we set up camp in a modest brick house with a carport and a swimming pool, and became part of an occupying force in territory which rightfully belonged to the Pima, Maricopa, and Papago. Of course, by then the paleface invasion was in full-swing, and we were barely aware of the Native Americans still living in the fringe of burgeoning progress. We didn’t even have the decency to call our unwilling, unwitting host tribes by their proper names — Akimel O’odham, Piipaash, and Tohono O’odham.

Arizona public education included American History classes. According to my teachers, the beginning of history in my birth country began when European adventurers/opportunists/pirates discovered it by accident. Of course, there were bands of hunting-gathering savages roaming the land at the time, but their history was nonexistent or irrelevant. I’m eternally grateful to my mom and dad for allowing me to run wild as a child. From the beginning, I questioned everything I heard. Especially the words of teachers, preachers, and other figures of authority. Kids aren’t born ignorant. They learn that in school, and I was never much of a student.

Years would pass before I found out that the original human inhabitants of the Western Hemisphere had already been living here for at least 12,000, maybe 20,000 years before the commencement of The Great American Holocaust. Who knew that the savages who were allegedly lifted from lives of sin and ignorance by their paleface saviors, had already developed a complex society, had established trade routes from the Arctic to the Antarctic, from Pacific to Atlantic, managed vast herds of bison, built cities and pyramids which rivaled anything in the so-called civilized world, and had developed a perfectly balanced food system based upon corn, beans, and squash? My teachers failed to mention the murder of perhaps a hundred million Natives in the Western Hemisphere who were an impediment to ‘progress’. Just an oversight, I guess.

If Native Americans had been lucky enough to possess steel and gunpowder, American History would have been a different story. And so it goes. Perhaps, as Doctor Pangloss suggested in Voltaire’s Candide, all things happen for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds. After all, the conquest and occupation of the New World, enslavement of its inhabitants, and Great American Holocaust were ordained by papal bull. Godless savages needed to be put in their place. More often than not, that place was in the ground. Sorry, not buying into that. Serious wrongs were committed by my forefathers. Like it or not, I’m part of the occupying paleface force, and hold no legitimate claim to live anywhere in what we now call The United States.

And so, when the north wind blows, I move restlessly on. Searching desperately for a comfortable niche. As a young man, I lived among the ghosts of the Ahwahnechee in Yosemite Valley. They were repeatedly evicted from Yosemite, and are now considered extinct as a tribe. The last eviction happened when I moved there in 1969, and now the only remnant left is the name of a fancy hotel. The Ahwahnee.

In the ’80’s and ’90’s, while living in Jackson Hole, I climbed about three dozen named peaks and spires in the Teton Range. Two were named after tribes which lived and traded in and around the valley for untold centuries. The Tukuarika were known as the sheep eaters by early invaders. The Nez Perce were given this moniker by French trappers who mistook them for another tribe with pierced noses. Their actual name was Niimi’ipu, meaning “the people”. A few thousand survivors of ‘the people’ now occupy an Idaho reservation. Billionaire palefaces now occupy Jackson Hole.

For the past dozen years, I’ve travelled in and out of the occupied territory of the Hawaiian Monarchy many times. The northern Islands of the Polynesians were illegally purloined by the U.S.A. about 120 years ago. The Native Hawaiians brought their culture from Tahiti and surrounding islands more than eight hundred years ago, settling and making life sustainable in the island chain with coconuts, breadfruit, taro, bananas, and pigs. They created a paradise which U.S. business interests found impossible not to covet. And so the Great American Holocaust spread into the tropical North Pacific. A nearly bloodless coup relegated the Native population to permanent second class citizenship, and turned over the Islands to Wall Street. I’ve personally occupied three of the Islands, visited and explored the rest. Trade winds blew me there. The north wind blew me away again. I love the Islands like nowhere else on earth, but never quite felt welcome there. “Haole” is a derogatory term used to describe paleface mainland invaders like me. It means “without the breath of life”.

I’ve lived in the land of the Shis-Inday in south-central New Mexico. Their name means “people of the mountain forests”. Palefaces call them Mescalero Apaches. I spent four years on the reservation of the Ko-Tyit in the foothills of the Jemez Mountains of northern New Mexico. They are called “Cochiti” by those of us who are without the breath of life. Today, in the shadow of Spirit Mountain, I’m packing in preparation to leave the land of the Aha Makav. You might know them as the Fort Mohave Tribe.

Can you hear that? The north wind has a distinctive howl. Those of us who bear the burden of the sins of our ancestors have no real home. We’ll always live in occupied territory, and may never find peace or a sense of belonging. I’ll load the U-Haul and point it due east toward the Pueblos of northern New Mexico. My new temporary residence will be in Santa Fe. Paleface history would have us believe that Santa Fe is the oldest state capital in the U.S.A., being continuously occupied for some four hundred years. A closer look shows that the Pueblos settled the area 800 to a thousand years ago. They called their home Ogha Po’oge.

When the Spanish Conquistadores entered Ogha Po’oge in 1610, they established their own settlement, calling it La Villa Real de la Santa Fe de San Fransisco de Assisi…or Santa Fe for short. By 1680, the Pueblo People became sick and tired of Spanish abuse, and responded by kicking their asses out of the area and chasing them south into what is now El Paso. The Pueblo Revolt was successful for a dozen years, only to be reversed by the triumphant return of the Spanish in 1692.

Then, in 1810, the tenacious Mexicans revolted against Spanish rule, and before the Pueblos knew it, they were living under a Mexican flag. A few decades later, slave-owning palefaces in what is now Texas, disagreeing with Mexican policy banning slave ownership, seceded from Mexico, and attempted to fly their Lone Star flag over Ogha Po’oge. Before the Mexicans knew it, they were at war with the U.S.A. They lost the entire northern half of their country in the short conflict, and in the blink of an eye, the Santa Fe Pueblos were living in The United States. I should mention that the flag of the Confederacy also graced the sky over Ogha Po’oge for a short period during The Civil War.

For more than 300 years, the Santa Fe palefaces have celebrated the 1692 defeat of the Pueblos with Fiestas de Santa Fe. It’s a grand celebration, which includes a reenactment of the Entrada, meaning the conquest of Don Diego de Vargas over the Pueblos. Some fifty thousand people (5/7ths of Santa Fe’s population) attend the burning of the Zozobra (old man gloom), and the local Kiwanis Club rakes in millions.

The Fiestas de Santa Fe is one of those feel good events that makes the paleface crowd proud of being American. What’s not to love about a celebration of the deaths of ungrateful lesser people, and a return of power to its rightful owners. This year, a crowd of fifty to a hundred protesters showed up to rain on this patriotic parade. The protest brought to mind Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for The Star Spangled Banner. Imagine the nerve of an Afro-American publicly degrading our national anthem which, in the third stanza, celebrates the defeat and death of runaway slaves who dared to fight against the homeland of their masters in the War of 1812. I’d like to know exactly what Kaepernick’s problem is with the system of slavery which fueled the fires of capitalism and was the very foundation of the Great American Empire. We owe much to slavery. For another thing, we’d have no municipal police departments if they hadn’t been established to round up rogue, uncooperative, runaway black folks. They’re still doing that job well today. God bless Francis Scott Key…slave-owner extraordinaire. Too bad he was inept as a soldier and couldn’t stop the British from burning down the Capitol Building and White House.

The U-Haul is loaded and pointed in the general direction of the 19 Pueblos of New Mexico. I’ll occupy a small space in their rightful home for a while. Then the north winds will blow again and I’ll be on the road once more. I’ll inhale their culture, participate in their feast days, and likely join their protest next year at Fiestas de Santa Fe. Who knows? Maybe there’s a Second Pueblo Revolt on the horizon. If so, I’ll join the Haak’u, Ko-Tyit, Tue-l, Walatowa, Ka’waika, Nambe O-Ween-Ge, Ohkay-Owingeh, Pe’ewi, Po-Suwae-Geh, Na-Fiat, Katishtya, Po-woh-ge-oweenge, Tamaya, Kha’p’oo Owinge, Kewa, Tuah-Tah, Tet-sugeh, She-we-na, and Tsi-ya in a celebration of freedom and justice. It’s just a crazy dream, but just the thought of it gives comfort to my restless heart.

John R. Hall, having finally realized that no human being in possession of normal perception has a snowball's chance in hell of changing the course of earth's ongoing trophic avalanche, now studies sorcery with the naguals don Juan Matus and don Carlos Castaneda in the second attention. If you're patient, you might just catch him at his new email address, but if his assemblage point happens to be displaced, it could take a while. That address is: Read other articles by John R..