Anyone who has driven the interstate from
Albuquerque to Flagstaff will attest to the rigors necessary to survival
on that overused stretch of highway. Last week I used large amounts of
truck stop coffee and unidentified chicken-fried-something to break up
the voyage across that blighted landscape we call the painted desert.
Fatigued from trailing, or [gasp[ passing convoys of
79-mile-per-hour-18-wheelers, drivers can choose to submit to
ever-present signage, urging travelers to Exit Now! for Heap Big
Savings! at the trading posts.
Every mile of I-40 is blemished by Navajos
hawking rugs, booze, gambling tents, and 'authentic', but often
Indonesian turquoise, in an uninterrupted assault on the senses by 36
inch hand painted letters on such venues as oversized red and yellow
teepees and recycled billboards. Cultural Centers welcome travelers to a
land of sandstone monuments stained with streaks of desert varnish, and
sheer vermillion cliffs whose reddish hues vary in intensity with the
time of the day. Sounds pretty, huh? -- if you could see it. The natural
landscape is all but extinguished by Navajo and Hopi efforts at
spiritual communion with the nature of their tax-free-cash-economy.
A trip on I-40 makes this jaundiced travel
writer long for the minimalist elegance of, say --Orlando. The standard
introduction to this wholly charmless and cultural void known as Indian
Country, starts with a tour of a traditional village, complete with six
sided hogans made from logs and earth. Brochures gush about traditional
lifestyles by "noble guardians of the land", to eager busloads of French
and Germans. Words like "balance, noble and harmony" flow like daddy's
trust fund from bearded yuppies, who man the parks and monuments when
they aren't teaching "Earth in the Balance" programs at suburban
community college in places like Santa Barbara. Rapt listeners are
instructed on the finer points of "indigenous culture" --an oxymoron
whose very utterance should be punishable by a mandatory Chinese buffet
in Grants, followed by an overnight at one of the
rail-cars-turned-hotel-by-the-hour on the outskirts of Gallup.
The French nod earnestly when told of Navajo
and Hopi reliance "on traditions during times of contemporary demands to
preserve their way of life and reverence for the earth".
I've driven most of the four corners from
Grants to Tuba City -- and from Monument Valley to Cuba --and the only
reverence for nature I've witnessed by the "indigenous culture" are the
remains of equal parts Valvolene and Bud-Lite offered up in wholesale
quantities to the roadside gods. Tour guides fail to mention that
today's noble savage prefers a double-wide with hand-strung electrical
wires across any remnants of natural beauty which may have escaped their
guardianship. Unpainted aluminum siding and a space heater replace
traditional adobe and kiva fireplace. And no modern day pit house is
complete without at least two disassembled vehicles in the yard and a
decomposing dog in the ditch. [Does NO one collect their dead pets in
that part of the world? I've seen more reverence for animals in a
Javanese food stall] Add drunken feral males prowling the parking lots
for spare change and you have experienced the true nature of the
indigenous southwest WITHOUT the expense of a guide.
If my harsh commentary injures the delicate
sensibilities of more generous readers, I challenge them to spend one
day driving any of the back roads of our revered Indian Nations, without
encountering at least ONE drunken man wandering onto the road before
3PM. --Ditto for a minimum of 3 decomposing household pets -- within 100
yards of an occupied dwelling. Another annoyance is the proliferation of
public service road signs. They add to the overall flavor of the place,
alternately cautioning the natives to drink milk, inoculate their
children, and never drink and drive. Oh, and "never leave your car
unattended -- even when locked".
This sign was posted at an overlook at the
edge of a cliff, in the most remote corner of the rarely visited north
rim of Canyon de Chelly ---and I MEAN at the absolute end of
civilization --in a wilderness --nary a mobile adobe in sight, in any
direction. I was very very much alone. Just me, the canyon, the sign,
and what I learned later, were those ingenious indigenous, who sit
patiently in these remote pinon forests, waiting for an opportunity for
what the locals [really] call a Navajo shopping spree.
All of which brings me to the purpose of this
grumpy, depressing travelogue.
What ever happened to the noble concept of
natural selection? I mean the real life and death stuff. Darwin and
Wallace would offer a stern rebuke if they saw what penicillin and
alcohol rehab has done to the gene pool of the American
Necessary aside: A government tour guide in
Chile who was pitching ski town investment to a group of visiting
Americans, reminded us that the stability of the their new economy was,
in no small measure due to the early eradication of the Indian
"problem". He cautioned us that Peru and Bolivia had spared the locals,
with devastating results. Lima and La Paz are now overwhelmed with the
growing costs of educating the uneducable indigenous, who, with the help
of modern medicine and vaccines, promptly bred themselves out of their
natural environment at the expense of every bird and butterfly.
Readers, be assured, I do NOT proffer
any recommendations of genocide --yet. But I do warrant that anything
more than a weekend of Dances With Doughnuts in the Land of Enchantment
would test the resolve of the most ardent altruist. In my gloomier
moods, I do wonder aloud, what good has come of man's endless
charitable, but as yet self defeating efforts to lift all boats, as they
say. When the Dutch and British first sailed into a South African
harbor, the locals had not yet discovered that mere cloth, held up to
the wind, could move floating logs forward. Forget concepts such as
yesterday and tomorrow. Traditions such as boinking the local fauna,
endured however, along with deflowering the local girls before they were
toddlers, in some nonsensical belief that sex with a virgin cures AIDS.
This little tidbit is not widely discussed beyond local newspapers in
Sub Saharan Africa, but a contingent of aid workers insist they are
making progress, alerting the West to the epidemic of incest and
pedophilia endemic to Africa's noble indigenous "culture".
See ---In my travels, I have begun to rethink
everything I've been told about conquests and the conquered. I'm
beginning to get the picture of just exactly what caused all that
pillage and plunder mentality back when nasty Euros exterminated whole
civilizations. When Navajos went on their early shopping sprees, they
stole not just live stock and horses, but slaves as well. And they
didn't free em, --they put em to work! [did you hear that Jesse?]
What if --just what if, those letters to
Spain detailing cannibalism by protein deficient Indians so horrified
the conquistadors, that they said screw it, just kill em all. One such
correspondence tells of a woman spreading the blood of a severed human
limb on her nipple, that her infant could suckle the protein rich blood.
Rain dances my ass. These weren't sacrifices to Gods, they were killing
each other for food once all the large mammals were gone. Universities
in three states have been fussing and feudin over the "implications" of
their discovery of large piles of human bones near the kitchens of the
Anasazi cliff dwellings. That's easy. They were cannibals. Nobody wanted
to print the truth of these people, and now anthropologists must
apologize for their politically incorrect findings. .
Carvings of ole Chacmool, in the Yucatan,
show him reclining with a bowl on his belly. It held human hearts,
sacrificed to the god [of hunger]. THIS and other ghoulish practices by
these "noble" savages, cause anthropologists such as Marvin Harris to
conclude that the conquest of the Aztec was made easier because the
Spanish were readily able to dehumanized the people they conquered.
Cortez conquered the Aztec with 550 men, 16 horses and a gleeful local
population, eager to rid themselves of their own masters.
Ditto for Peru. The Incas were savage, blood
thirsty giants who preyed on anything which breathed within their
expanding realm. So what if they were master masons? They were firmly at
the top of the food chain for thousands of years, yet hadn't discovered
that coconuts roll down hill. By the 1400's they hadn't created a word
for tomorrow, used those coconuts for wheels, or mastered the common
Roman arch. But they had enough time and slave labor to build a large
cities on mountain tops. Visitors to Macchu Picchu get the same cultural
brain washing as those hapless travelers on Interstate 40. This time the
miracle is sun dials. What's so amazing? On the equator, the sun rises
at 6AM and descends at 6PM every day of the year. When you got nothing
better to do than watch the sun and the moon, I would hope to hell after
a couple thousand years, somebody would figure out that the path changes
with the equinox, and solstices. Wouldn't that give them the advantage
of a sun warmed spot on the north AND south surfaces of their
Once the Incas, Aztecs, Zulus or Bantu
achieved 3/5ths of Maslowe's hierarchy of needs, one would think they
might have engaged in a little self exploration or a glimmer of
benevolence. If there is evidence of same, I 've not read it or seen it.
Remember, these heathens were still eating each other for lack of
protein when Notre Dame was built or when Leonardo drafted his first
I am willing to bet my passport stamps that
each of these cultures will swamp the life boats called civilization
within a few decades should we continue to underwrite their "success".
More than once we have saved them from themselves, yet they show no sign
of self sufficiency or acquiescence to Western philosophy, our norms and
That goes double for African Americans, who
know better than most that their ancestors won life's lottery when they
were "chosen" to toil on plantations in the American south. If not for
the endemic African slave trade, [that was slave trading by and for
Africans, to non Africans], we might never have witnessed the wonder
that is/was Walter Williams, Frederick Douglass, Larry Elder or Tiger
Woods, for they would be toiling in Zimbabwe or Cameroon today.
We cannot lift all boats when ours are
swamped by misinformation and down right lies about what IS and what is
NOT worthy of extinction on this planet. My maxim is "any culture which
has not learned to shit other than where they drink has DNA begging for
extinction". We are under no obligation to continue to save them from
themselves, or in the words of Ayn Rand "that we should apologize to the
savages of Africa and Asia, that we have produced it and they have not".
I don't want to hear anymore excuses by the chattering classes of the
neuveau reich on the left, about the horrors of colonialism or the
disruption of the native species.
There are 6 billion competing ideas on the meaning of
life. And they are not equal. It's time we said so --AGAIN. And in very
stern language. Since these truths have slipped our collective memory,
perhaps we should visit the history books on why good men used violence
to contain these animals the first time. There was nothing noble about
any of these savages. If readers need a reality check, I suggest an
extended auto tour of the Land of Enchantment.
Carole's Absolute Laws of the Universe -OR- Your genetic
code is worthy of extinction IF---
You evacuate in your drinking water. Or haven't
discovered the reasoning for such prohibitions. .
You continue to give birth to children you cannot feed,
clothe or sustain even in the event of their death.
You eat your seed corn.
Have sex with your seed corn or any other child.
You rely on host cultures to subsidize any of the
aforementioned poor choices.
You have not achieved a modicum of security in your
source of food or shelter after thousands of years at the top of the
Successful management of self and resources can catapult
even the most ignoble homo sapien to new levels of self awareness.
Outward manifestations of same could include a simple gesture like seat
belts for your child, or a newfound reluctance to shop in someone elses