American Southwest: Final Conversations

A daily encounter with the extreme—this seemed to be the rule during the final weeks of CWU’s American Southwest tour. I climbed to over 8,000 feet and later descended to 250 feet below sea level. Pedaling 60+ miles through unpopulated high desert while getting hissed at by roadside rattlesnakes would be followed by rubbing shoulders with photo-snapping tourists. One night I camped under a lonely full moon along the rim of the Grand Canyon, a dozen miles from the nearest human being. A few days later I pushed my unwieldy touring bike around merry gamblers and between flashing slot machines to my room in the Excalibur casino in Las Vegas. The day after that-the entire day-I fought the most relentless headwind I have ever faced, encountering desert snow at a 5,500 foot pass, with nowhere to rest until I staggered into my next stopping point well after dark, almost too tired to eat dinner.

I wouldn't have had it any other way. Except maybe that wind part.

I met Jan Manuel and Angie James in a small café in the small town of Dilkon, AZ. Jan is Hopi Indian and Angie is half Hopi, half Navajo. Here, you’ll hear Jan mention some of the rituals that precede a Hopi’s ascension to a leadership position, and the responsibilities that come along with that position.

Roy Williams and I discussed some of the issues facing folks on the Navajo reservation surrounding Tuba City, AZ. I asked Roy to describe some of the cultural differences he sees between Navajo and what he calls Anglo culture. One thing he contrasted was the way in which the two cultures address the care of their aging family members. He said that while Anglo families generally find rest homes for their elderly parents, the Navajos do things differently.