These stories and essays recount a fascinating period of my life, when, as a teacher, I moved myself into an entirely new culture, and immersed myself in the life of the Navajo Nation.
The Dine’ (literally, ‘the People’) are the largest tribe in North America, 300,000 people strong. They are robust and durable people, agrarian, and ranchers, and live widely spread throughout their vast reservation spanning both mountainous and desert canyon terrain, in northeastern Arizona.
In my three years at Navajo Community College, a small tribal college, I supervised the welding trades school, an industrial training program. In that time and place, I had experiences very much outside of the norm back in Massachusetts, and Maine, the places I hail from.
For the most part, I handled myself well. Inevitably, I own up to some regrets. I remember my foolish missteps, and probably could have been mellower about some things; I ascribe this to my own culture clash. It took me time to learn to interact with Navajos on their own terms, without offending or looking ridiculous, which I often did.
The years I spent in Navajo country yielded a number of lifetime friendships, including a marriage. It defined my life, and I remain captured by the experience, and held in the southwest, in Santa Fe, permanently, it seems.
David Larson / 2010
Santa Fe, New Mexico