Tuesday, October 4, 2011


Well, it was the 50th Kayenta Monument Valley High School homecoming week this week, culminating in a 44-6 Mustang ass-whoopin' over the Tuba City Warriors in football. The highlight of the week was the annual parade which, much to the dismay of tourists en route to Monument Valley, resulted in the complete closure of the only highway through town for the 1 1/2 to 2 hours of the parade (followed by a lengthy bumper-to-bumper traffic jam of the delayed tourist cars, campers, and motor homes).
Candy-laden kids awaiting the next toss
The locals lined the entire 2 1/2 mile parade route and were treated to a fine show, including a small marching band, several groups on horseback, high school class royalty couples, and many floats ($1000 prize for best float) and other conglomerations. In a non-nod to the current obesity and diabetes epidemic in Native Americans, most parade participants threw handfuls of candy to the kids lining the street. I note that the parade entry instructions included proper technique for throwing candy (throw high with the wind, low against it) and safety instructions. In a community where many still ride around the rez unrestrained in the back of pick up trucks and kids very often sit on parents' laps without seat belts, it's no surprise that the rules were a bit more lax than one might find elsewhere.
Anti-diabetes banana trails the float
Among my favorites were the FFA float (KMVHS has the nation's largest Native American FFA program), and the diabetes prevention float (complete with banana costumes adorned with Navajo decoration). As another indicator of my tight department control, I was surprised to find that there was an Emergency Department float. Who knew? This small community managed to come up with enough participants to keep 'em coming for almost 2 hours...

The night before this Friday spectacle, I enjoyed the varsity volleyball match against the Chinle Wildcats. The Mustangs also put a hurt on that opponent, sweeping them easily in three straight. Volleyball is huge in Kayenta with, I believe, 17 girls on varsity as well as large JV and Freshman teams. Big community support with hundreds in the stands and everyone's small children running about and playing on the areas of the gym surface not used for the match. It was a refreshing sports experience; people playing as hard as they could throughout the whole match without any coaches screaming at them, lots of effort, lots of smiles. It was all about the game; just the excitement and pleasure of being the ones on the court and making the most of it.

Following that homecoming, I returned to Portland for another, spending a couple of weeks home to work on many administrative projects before returning to Kayenta later this month. A great pleasure to be home, but a great challenge to get things done from afar. We'll see how it goes.

At this point you're no doubt wondering if this tale is truly blogworthy and I share your concern... Here's as much profundity as I can muster -

When lucky enough to go someplace far outside my usual world, the first impression is always how wildly different it is from home. Then as people are met, ideas exchanged, life and families are observed, and the story unfolds, it becomes no less wildly different but one starts to understand how much is the same. Conclusion: People want life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness (hopefully aided by food, clothing, shelter, security, education, health, and the rule of law), and a good parade.

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