Something About Goodbyes and See You Laters

Well, if the multitude of emails I’ve received from every section of the housing department here at W&L is anything to go by, I’d say it’s just about done. Once again, four of the most beautiful weeks of the year have come and passed and with it, one of the best academic experiences I’ve had at this school. I can’t begin to thank everyone on this trip enough for this opportunity and experience. I couldn’t have imagined a better group of people to go with or better pairing of professors.

As I look back on the experience, I’m glad that this Spring Term I was able to enrich my academic experience through traveling. It’s truly unique being able to literally talk to the people that are writing the things that we read in class. Getting the opportunity to visit and talk with so many Tohono O’odham places and people was amazing and really reinforced all the conversations we had in the classroom. Returning for next semester and having this not be the case is going to be rather difficult I anticipate.

After this experience, I realize just how hard it is to truly understand a topic if you’re only experiencing it in a classroom setting. While yes, a basic knowledge can be gathered through positive academic discussion and diligent classwork, a holistic understanding can only be gathered through actual experience. Sure it may have only been a little more than a week but I can’t overemphasize just how much the interactions we had supplemented my learning experience.

Well, that’s all from me. I wish everyone the best going into next semester and have a fantastic summer!

Pat the Friar

Prior to this trip, my experience with missionaries, particularly those located along the southern US border, was practically none. I pretty much had absolutely no clue what I was getting myself into when I heard we were staying at the San Solano mission in Topawa so I was presently surprised when I arrived. Of all the experiences that I had over the trip, my stay at the mission was one of the most memorable.

Being that the housing available to us was split between a large living complex that housed eleven people and a small one-bedroom hut in the back of the property, we ended up having to be separated. Donnie, Pat, and I ended up being the odd ones out and had to live in the “off-site” house. Again though, not knowing exactly what I was getting into, I was pleasantly surprised to find the house a quaint little home with all the amenities of a normal living structure. Pat and Donnie obviously found it quite comfortable considering they fell asleep almost instantly as seen by the picture below.

Pat and Donnie asleep moments after arriving at our living quarters

With both Pat and Donnie asleep and there still being an hour or two until dinner, I decided to take a walk around the property. Other than the church, a few living areas, and classrooms, I didn’t expect there to be much else in the area. I was surprised then to find that the site had at least three basketball courts, multiple swing sets, and a plethora of assorted playground infrastructure strewn across the landscape. Overall, it was a very cool place to stay.

Me on a swing I found while walking around the mission

Ajo

Reconstruction overnight

Of a city burning bright

Students of Blake as am I

To take away the corporate sight

 

A school remade to serve the few

A wall painted to hide the hue

Of things both born of black and gold

The ornate create and break the mold

 

As shifts in wind distort the town

Black and gray morph into clown

Those who stay will soon be known

As those who claimed art as their home

Post 8: Where do we go from here?

After taking this course, it is incredible how badly the American public education system (at least in my experience) failed in teaching students about American Indians. I genuinely remember learning nothing about native Americans while in school which is absolutely a disservice because these are people that are alive and have a culture rich with knowledge and experience that we can learn from. They know and understand the land. They have a stronger connection to natural resources and know how to coexist with them without destroying their environment. They have been able to exist in an arid climate using incredibly intelligent farming techniques. There is so much the American people can learn from cultures such as that of the Tohono O’Odham, and I think it is absolutely necessary that students are introduced to American Indians at a young age. Their way of life is so incredible and filled with spirit. Me and Haley talked with Kiowa (Joe’s grandson) after dinner, and we started talking about how the world seemed to be getting more and more materialistic. It is something I think about often, but it was so interesting to listen to Kiowa talk about it because I can guarantee I am more materialistic than him. I can say that because I am not American Indian and I was not raised thinking about the values of reciprocity and thanking the earth whenever I took from it and being grateful for every piece of the universe that was placed so delicately in its place for me to experience. That’s not a stab at my parents because they did a fantastic job, but these aspects of spirit are simply not in our culture. I think we need to act fast and start integrating more spirit and gratitude into our culture before we destroy it to the point of no return because we didn’t realize the true value of our land and water. When it comes down to it, the most valuable thing on earth is the earth itself. We as a people could not exist without the earth. Everything that has ever existed came originally from the earth, in some form, because we didn’t just create it out of thin air. But to think that the things we create are more important than the source of all things in our life is naive, ignorant, and will lead to our demise.

So, at the end of this all, let’s take something from this experience and integrate it into our own lives. I’ve started thanking everything, oftentimes out loud, when I take and try to give back and equal force. I might become a teacher after I graduate, and if I do and happen to end up in social studies or history, I will do my best to find a way to integrate teachings about American Indians. It’s a beautiful way of life they have and the amount of strength they have demonstrated in persevering through hardship to hold on to their ways of life is so impressive. To them I say keep going. To us I say let’s listen to them!

Post 7: The Border

I didn’t know what to expect when we were told we were going to visit the border. I was honestly expecting a wall like it is often publicized, not something like Trump is proposing but like the structures that exist outside of many urban areas. That is obviously not what we saw, and I was surprised for a number of reasons by the steel and barbed wire fence that we visited. Firstly, I was surprised by the fact that it is not meant to stop humans. Surprised in a good way, because I think it brings our focus back to the genuine problem with the migration crisis, which I believe to be drugs and violence. I don’t think people are the problem, unless they are the catalyst by which drugs and violence are arriving into the country.

I think this border wall and the way it is approached by the Tohono O’Odham is something the American people should learn from. I do not know how many migrants are not well-intentioned, but I think it is safe to say that many of them are just searching for a better life, not one riddled with violence and murder and extortion that exists in the home countries they are coming from. The stories of atrocities occurring throughout Central America and even in Mexico is something that I think the American people should sympathize more with. If we aren’t okay with more people coming into the country, then we should at least try to be more okay with donating funds and resources to try to improve the situation in these other countries so they are at least livable for their residents.

The culture of the Tohono O’Odham would be hurt badly by the presence of a border wall. As it is said on the Nation, the border crossed them and their stretch of the border is large enough for them to have a substantial stake in this debate. Not only should a border wall not be placed on their land, but the situation needs to be improved so that they have more than 2 legal ports of entry, because that is simply ridiculous. We need to respect the culture that we impeded upon and grant them more rights and autonomy to exist alongside the other O’Odham in Mexico.

Even though I think the majority of the migration crisis relates to drugs and violence, something needs to be done so that the O’Odham and other people along the border are safe from persuasion by cartel members to participate in their industry. We heard stories about young Tohono O’Odham being coerced by cartel members to help smuggle drugs, and it is more difficult to detect Tohono O’Odham participating in these activities because of the increased access they have to cross the border. This situation needs to be improved. I’m not sure, but maybe starting with education across the Nation about the situation will help prepare youth to deal with situations such as this and avoid getting involved with these people.

I think the immigration debate in our country needs to focus on some of the statistics that we heard while on the Nation. The majority of hard drugs that come across the border come through the ports of entry. Well, we have a lead. We should invest in more technology and patrol along the legal ports of entry to stop this from happening so easily. I think the implementation of integrated fixed towers may be a good step for the Tohono O’Odham because it can cut down on these activities without affecting the culture of the Nation too much. I think this is an interesting debate we are witnessing in our country and it will be interesting to see how plays out. I think we should give the less fortunate a home here but find a way to do it safely.

Encouraging Knowledge

On Monday, we visited the Tohono O’odham Community College and met with several campus administration including the President of the college. It was fascinating to hear about the struggles that the Tohono O’odham have had with promoting higher education on the reservation. It was hard, however, to not feel confident moving forward due to all the efforts that TOCC is putting into fixing these issues. Their staff seems extremely dedicated, key educational indicator statistics are trending towards the positive, and there was even an active campus development project being undergone. (the amphitheater which surprisingly enough does not have an O’odham language word equivalent). All of these point towards a bright future.

I also was rather surprised to hear that the college has a rather successful basketball team. For a school attempting to establish a good reputation in both the local community and overall academic sphere, a good sports team is a huge aid. In addition to simply attracting constant media attention and supplying a sense of college pride, I also noticed that the team did bring in a decent amount of revenue via ticket and merchandise sales. Just an interesting side note to an overall enlightening experience.

Part 10: The Final Test (You’ll Never Believe This Shit Y’all)

Alright, so I’m back with a tenth blog post because this Spring Term has been one hell of a ride, and I think this story is too good not to share. Plus, I’ve been thinking a lot about a lot, so I figured I’d just write it all up on here and press that good old publish button so the world can hear it and I can put it all to rest.

  1. Saturday: The 5am Return

Okay, if you weren’t aware… Eric and I left last from the Charlotte airport on Saturday when we returned from the trip. I got off the flight at 7:30 with the rest of the initial crew who was on the noon ish flight from Phoenix. Eric was on a later flight from Phoenix at 3, so he was supposed to arrive at Charlotte at 10PM. Well, as you all know, the weather was crazy and everything got cancelled, and it’s all American Airlines fault, because f*ck American Airlines (see Part 9).

So anyway, Eric landed at 10 at CLT, but everything was so backed up, he didn’t get off the plane until MIDNIGHT! By this point, I was… in an indescribable state. Trying to keep my stress down to prevent more shingles pain, I was forced to stay in as close to a meditative, thoughtless state as possible. My phone was dead, and everybody had left hours ago, and I was just sitting in this crazy mad airport trying to stay calm, relaxed, and awake. Home awaited… Home awaited.

Eventually, I found a corner in a closed Starbucks on the upper floor above baggage claim. I sat in the corner behind some crates with my phone plugged in to the only available outlet at that entire fucking airport. Eric eventually got off the plane, and he met me there.

After Eric and I met up, we had no idea how the hell to get home. We tried for about an hour to get an Uber driver to no avail. We went through a ton of different options for how to approach returning. We thought about getting a hotel at one point. We got in line for a rental car, no luck. We even at one point just started walking out of the airport along the road. I probably would have kept walking if we hadn’t run into a giant construction mud pit that forced us to turn around. At another point, I just sat on the side of the road asking God why the fuck I couldn’t just get one god damn break (I’d been doing that every day since shingles, the Nerve Rash From Hell). I shed a tear while Eric kept looking for Ubers. And in that moment, we found our guy. My prayers were answered. Thanks Universe.

Marvin was his name — a tall, skinny, old-ish southern accented African American dude with a go-tee (or however you spell that) and a tiny little car. He almost said no, but we told him we’d tip him, and he, some fucking how, agreed to drive us to Charlottesville. At one in the fucking morning.

So he got to the airport and we put our stuff in the back of his car on top of a fleece Spider man blanket and hopped into the back seat of his car. We pretty much spent the first 5 minutes of the ride thanking him profusely for driving us. Then, we got into telling him about the airport and how everything was cancelled. Somehow, that evolved into a generous hour long conversation about everything from the miracle of flight to the workings of the universe, the presence of life on other planets, the importance of education and protecting our children from dangers like school shooters while also promoting mental health services and supporting one another, and we even talked about how women should have more power in government because we, sorry men, can actually get shit done instead of farting around like a bunch of old greedy lumps of poopy.

After our conversation, Marvin said “y’all must be getting tired,” and he told us to take a nap and he’d keep driving. I honestly have never trusted a stranger more than I trusted this guy. Thank you Marvin for everything.

He got us home safe at 5AM, and my mom (who wakes up at 4:30) said good morning too us and told us to go to bed. So we did, and we slept til noon. Grayson, if you are reading this, I’m sorry, because we were asleep when you landed, and we meant to wake up but we slept through the alarm out of pure exhaustion. Glad you got home safe. We slept well that night, and it felt good to be home.

2. So the above story was quite the adventure, but it only gets more ridiculous from here.

On Sunday, we were in Cville with my family and sister who is still in high school (the last one of 4 to graduate). She had bought tickets to a concert in New York that was really important to her, and my brother, who originally was supposed to take her to the city, could no longer take her because of a work obligation on Saturday (Saturday the 18th, the day of the concert). So, she asked us if we could take her.

Well, we were originally planning to leave Lexington on Sunday the 19th. If you don’t already know, we had nothing short of a crazy fucking year living alone (Eric, myself, and our cat) in this falling apart, huge ass themed house on East Washington Street. There’s much more to this story, but nothing any of you particularly need to know. But know that we had filled the house with a lot of shit and hadn’t started packing until Monday when we got back to Lexington.

Anyway, we told Cecily that we would do everything in our power to get her to this concert. I love my sis.  But I think both of us knew if we were going to pull it off, we’d have to push.

So essentially on Monday, we committed to working ourselves to our physical and mental limits. This was stupid, but you also have to remember that we were 1. already sleep deprived 2. already exhausted from the year long cluster fuck headache that was this year and 3. we honestly just get so distracted by love and trying to make others happy and can think we can do it all sometimes but honey, we cannot.

3. If you want an idea of how our week went, picture this: waking up, drinking coffee all day, and switching off vigorously between packing up and clearing out our entire house and finishing all of our work for class — non stop, from 9:00 AM to 4:00 AM every. single. mother fucking day. from Monday to Thursday.

Thursday was the final push, and that’s why we were late to the poster session Friday, because we both stayed up til 5am going HARD. Well, Friday comes along (yesterday) and Eric and I are both so sleep deprived I feel like I’m a part of a psychological experiment. What does a year of isolation from others, 24 weeks of minor sleep deprivation, and 4 straight weeks of major, honestly insane sleep deprivation do to a person? You get shingles and lose your functioning brain!

It’s kind of funny looking back at it.

4. At like 10 PM last night, prospects of actually being able to pull everything off seemed weak. I’m in the bed blasting I Am The Highway and Gasoline by Audioslave (thank you Guse) on repeat (literally for like 2 straight hours) cranking away at my paper like you’ve never seen a woman on no sleep crank before. Sipping coffee, ravaged and wild. Meanwhile, Eric is running around making trip after trip to our storage unit and packing up the house and car for the drive back.

5. At 12:30 AM, we hit the road. This was pretty emotional because I had to say goodbye to the house. It wasn’t even finished packing, but we decided to go back later in the week (our CA William Hamryka was still gonna be there because he is a senior) and finish up the house. But we were still saying goodbye, and it was sad, and I was crying and giving the walls so many hugs cause I love this place and I love this house, and I’ve lived here for two years and it taught me so many great lessons despite everything. Also important to note, neither of us had finished our papers, but were planning on staying up for the rest of the night or finishing them in the morning or something to turn them in. We had not yet planned that part.

We hit the road with our cat and our car filled to the brim with shit. And, ha ha! 15 minutes out we break down on the side of the road.

6. Well, long story short, it all worked out. Hammy came to help us with the car, and we turned around to head back to Lexington. My Dad took a huge L and decided to take Cecily to the concert since we couldn’t do it. My little brother Sullivan had gotten home from college, and he agreed to help my Mom out at the B&B so Dad could take Cecily. And most importantly, we got some SLEEP. 4 AM was when we headed to bed.

The craziest thing was at the end of all that, Eric and I truly were happy as clams, laughing about how ridiculous the week had been. The greatest part was that, even though we didn’t pull it off, we almost did, and that’s something to be proud of. So we’re back at our house resting and working on our papers now. I don’t know how long we’ll be in Lexington because we still have to get the car fixed up, but I don’t even care. I feel like a wild animal, but I don’t even care. In fact, it’s kind of epic in an exhausting , funny kind of way. Eric and I are two crazy kids, but I love that about college and life and being young. Although, I am sorry Harvey and Guse for turning the paper in late. I hope you understand why after all this!

7. In reflection, I feel strange more than anything — trying to put the pieces together of the last 2 and 3 years, the pieces of my life, the parts I’ve created, and the parts that have passed.

Coping with the stress of this year, I painted a total of roughly 210 paintings over the span of 6 months (from Thanksgiving break, my first paintings ever painted, til now). I also wrote an entire album that Eric and I are hoping to produce over the summer and coming year to release under our band name Naked Lunch. I also came up with the frameworks for my first 3 books that I plan to write during the rest of my time in Lexington (at least the next 2 years while Eric is still in school).

When I look back at what I’ve created during this period of such intense hardship, I feel nothing but love and gratitude for my inner and outer self — I see a woman who took many dark pieces of her life and past and turned it all into love, music, art, and creativity. The creation of something special, meaningful, and beautiful despite everything that has been thrown my way. Fuck the haters! I couldn’t be prouder of myself. And also, I couldn’t love my life and everything about this Universe more than I do right now.

To be totally honest, I spent a lot of my time internally hating Washington and Lee. It was really, really fucking hard to get to a school like this and be a woman like me. I’m from rural Virginia from a place filled with magic rolling hills and air that makes you feel at home. There’s hippies and nature and so much love. I had an incredible family and support system, and while I struggled to find myself, I was home always before I left for college. I spent the summer before college road tripping out West to Colorado and Utah with 3 friends, and I felt free for the first time, saw myself in the land and in artists and in 2 lovers outside of a grocery store in a town called Mancos. I saw the stars and sang to them, ran with the Universe, and found a part of me.

When I got to W&L, that freedom felt like it was stripped from me. The stress, lack of support, and divisive nature of social institutions left me feeling helpless in the wake of my existence hoping for anything to come save me from this place I never thought could make me feel so alone. I was taken advantage of, hurt by others, confused by myself, and unsure of where to turn or go from there.

The craziest thing was I spent the last night of college my Freshman year in front of the infamous Old House smoking a cigarette and feeling somewhat sorry for myself and ready to get out of here. On that side of the street, I looked up at the house across where I’d be living the next year. I can’t remember what I was thinking then, but I sat on the steps of my front porch just the other night and saw myself 2 years ago looking back up at me from the other side. I am proud of that girl and proud to say that I have accomplished everything that girl could have ever dreamed of for the duration of my time in this house, which was the last 2 years — Sophomore and Junior Year.

I think about how many great things come in fours. Four Stern kids, four years of high school, four years of college. The first 2 are the pain, and the third is the purge. You get ripped open and pour yourself out to build yourself again. I wrote a line in one of my songs that says “I look back just to see the kind of girl I used to be. Then I let words spill out of me and square these fleeting things”

You create something out of nothing. Box them up and turn them into something beautiful. And once you’ve opened up that space, the fourth year is the one where it all comes together, and you can be who you want and do what you want and send yourself on your way because you’ve put in the work to become the person you want to be. And things make a little more sense than they did before — all the moments of being lost you realize were just showing you the way.

I found feathers for a year, and the birds showed me (whether I knew it or not then) the way to open my heart to love. They kept me going every moment I felt I couldn’t. When I got to Arizona, I hadn’t found a feather in a while — at least not consistently since I was in Amsterdam for February break with Eric (I had dreamed of feathers raining down on me, then woke up the next day and found feather after feather on our walk through the city and along the canals together). The first day in AZ was when I started to develop shingles, and the pain would make me cry under my sunglasses during the tour of Pueblo Grande. And at Casa Grande? I walk ahead of the group to keep myself in check from the pain, and I’m the first to spot that beautiful owl in the window of the structure. And as I’m sitting on the ground in the shade, an owl feather appears before my eyes saying I love you strong one. You will be okay. And I was.

There are forces beyond what we can understand in this Universe. We are but one piece of a multi billion year pie that is infinite and ever changing. But there is love everywhere. All around us and within each one of us. The Universe is working to bring you where you want to go, but you’ll never get there if you don’t surrender first. You can fight it all you want. You will try to fight it until you can’t anymore. And then you let go of the fight and realize the float will take you just where you need to be, and all you have to do is enjoy the ride.

8. Thank you for allowing me the space to write an honest reflection on my existence and all that I have learned. I’m not lost anymore, though I am still pretty tired. But that is what the summer is for — what Alaska will be for — what this life past this point will forever be for. Love and rest. Peace and quiet. Hard work but this time giving yourself the breaks you need and saying “Fuck you” to anybody who doesn’t understand the effort and work you’ve been putting in and why you need to take the moment or hour or day or week or however long you need to get back to the place you need to be. Also saying “Fuck you” to anyone who doesn’t understand you because the paint and the guitar always will, and so will the English language if you arrange the words well enough in just the right way. And if they’re not the love of your life or they’re not the friend who knows your soul or they’re not on the same wavelength, then fuck them because that shit and everything they say or do doesn’t matter because YOU are the only one in charge of YOUR life so BE FREE because YOU CAN! Love because it’s the path of least resistance. Open up because you find out who you are. Be vulnerable because you’ll make great art out of it. And don’t give a fuck about what anybody else thinks or wants you to be, because if you do, you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to please those who aren’t going to mean anything in 10 years because if you’ve put in the work to be where you want to be, those assholes aren’t even going to be around.

So the morale of my story, from year 1 to 3 is fuck it. Fuck it and be happy. Fuck it and find the solution. Fuck it and make art. Fuck it and be nice to everyone. Fuck it and do what you can and be who you want and enjoy your time on planet Earth because this sliver of existence is all you’ll ever know at any given moment. The breath brings you back and you are the energy to connect.

Much love to all of you in this class. Eric, I couldn’t have gotten through shingles without you. Thanks for applying my pain relieving cream while I said fuck you over and over cause it hurt, and for wheeling me around, and for being my personal walker and best friend.

Kathryn, thanks for not judging me for my shingles because I know I cried a lot and that was only because it really hurt. Also thank your mother, because knowing she got shingles made me feel a lot better.

Pat, you’re the fucking man and are hilarious. “Fake rabbi, real asshole”

Eric H., I appreciated your honesty and love of shit-talking. I haven’t been updated on the Class of 2020 drama since, like, freshman year. Good to know the juice.

Abby, I never told you this but you are strangely similar to my sister Cecily (you guys look so similar that sometimes I would see you out of the corner of my eye and be like what the fuck Cecily why you in Arizona girl?) Also thank you for your kitchen partnership at the mission, and thanks for being a good lab partner in Bio lab, too.

Emily, stand strong in your stance against fruit. I don’t understand it, but I respect it and the fact that you do not waiver in your beliefs.

Grayson, I’m sorry we didn’t pick you up from the airport. All in all I appreciated the questions you asked during all the meetings we had because you always asked them, and they were always really insightful and interesting thoughts that I, in my shingles haze, couldn’t have even come up with. You kept us on our toes. Also, shout out to South Dakota!

Donnie, I think we may have met my freshman year but I can’t remember and I was a very different person then, but it was good to get to know you a bit better during this time. Thanks for offering to carry my bags a bunch and being super kind about that.

Evan, I also think we may have met my freshman year but I can’t remember either. It was also good to get to know you better, too. I appreciated you and Donny honestly as a unit. It reminded me of me and Eric. Sometimes you just have your go to bud and I loved that that was you two.

Tanner, thank you for picking up the driving slack post shingles, and thank you for asking me and Eric why we were vegetarian that one time. And, thanks for the many country pop jams and for suggesting Thai food the last night.

Jacob, you, like Ponchi, are a freaking baller, and I hope that you have an amazing summer.

Harvey and Guse, thank you. Thank you for the two best Spring Term courses I ever have and ever will take.

I LOVE YOU ALL and best of luck on all of your many journeys and adventures in this life.

And so this story ends, and another begins. Be well, all of you.

-Haley

 

 

Footsteps of the Past

Sunday morning brought us an early awakening and a trip to Suguaro National Park. Arriving shortly after the coming of the sun, our group sought to beat the heat as we walked the desert trails in search of expansive views and the chance at finding long lost petroglyphs. With the gravel crunching below our feet, we tracked through a dehydrated wash and across creature infested wasteland towards some ambiguous peak.

Panoramic shot of the Sunday morning hike
One of the many cacti seen during our hike

Hiking here was nothing like the Northeast. Not only did the ground actively attempt to shirk away from your feet as if you were running on the beach, but everything was seemingly out to get you. Although maybe slightly irrational, the entire hike I felt as if one misstep would take me to the front door of some venomous snake’s lair or directly into the indifferent pinch of a wild cactus. Regardless of this, though, the experience was incredible. I was a huge fan of being able to see a different landscape and escaping the familiarity of the urbanization of Tucson.

Post 6: Haley’s Shingles

I feel like I have to write a blog post about this one because people should not forget that I was embroiled in this mess too. Haley got shingles and it sucked. I had to take care of her which was fun in its own ways, pushing her around in a wheelchair and stuff,  but was also horrible because Haley had shingles. You all have probably heard more than enough about it so far but I bring it up for two reasons. One, it is a great topic to think about staying and wandering sickness and traditional v. western medicine, and two, because we as a people are far too overworked and stressed out, and that isn’t necessarily the right way to live.

Western medicine is pretty damn cool because it helped Haley recover from her shingles largely in three days. I think western medicine is fantastic and of course has saved millions, hundreds of millions of lives. But that can’t be said without also saying that we must beware because we should only intervene with our body’s natural processes as long as there aren’t many other options. We shouldn’t immediately take an acetaminophen as soon as we start to get a headache. We shouldn’t be using antibiotics so much so that we have the potential to entirely nullify the beneficial effects of antibiotics as cells become antibiotic resistant. We should not be relying entirely on western medicine but should be using that as a tool when necessary. I think the human species has a tendency to overcomplicate things. A lot of times, we may be taking loads of pills for an illness that can legitimately be helped by some plants or herbal supplements or something like that. I’m no anti-vaxxer, god of course not, but I think we have undervalued the effectiveness of some traditional medicine that has been used by different peoples for hundreds, even thousands of years.

I think the Tohono O’Odham are likely struggling with this problem. Western medicine must be coming in clutch in many situations for them but it is vital that they also continue practicing their traditional medicine and healing as that is an integral part of their culture and no doubt successful in some instances. It’s all about balance and about treating your body properly whenever you can.

I also wanted to mention that we’re all way too stressed out. I think the traditional Tohono O’Odham way of life is seeming pretty appealing to me at the moment. Even though I’m not a desert person, going out and working in the fields for the day and then eating some tepary beans with chili and going to sleep sounds pretty good to me. College and work is extremely valuable, but it’s also necessary that we balance it with a healthy lifestyle so that we don’t overwork ourselves and potentially end up getting shingles (sorry Haley).

Post 5: What does development really mean?

Something this experience has made me question is the meaning of development. In the traditional sense, when we think of development,  we think of infrastructure, money, growth, and things like that. We think of development often purely in an economic sense. We think of maximizing profits and minimizing costs. We think about how to get the biggest paychecks and make everybody richer. That is what development has meant for centuries. That’s why we have urban sprawl. That’s why we constant construction work in Lexington. That is why in many ways we have the world that we do today. We have the high-tech developed world, but at what cost? Many of our rivers are polluted, our forests destroyed, our glaciers melting. We have people dying and oceans rising. Doesn’t development mean improvement? If I were to describe development, I would think of things improving, getting better, more efficient, making people more well-off. If the things we are doing in our society today are going to bite us in the ass in the future, is it really development or were we just deceived for the first couple centuries of it until our world reverts to chaos?

I know I’m exaggerating, but it’s something we need to think about. The Tohono O’Odham I believe think of development in a far different way, because when outsiders and the Bureau of Indian Affairs and white Europeans and Americans came in to help them develop,  we essentially decimated their culture, stole their water, made it incredibly difficult for them to grow their own food, gave them diseases, and left them as some of the poorest people in the country. That doesn’t sound like development to me because we have completely forgotten about a huge part of development. Call me hippie-dippie but we have forgotten about the spiritual side of development, the cultural side. We only think of economics, our focus so narrow as opposed to looking at the full breadth of our actions and the effect they will have on the world. If we considered the value of oceans and water and the richness they bring to our culture, we surely wouldn’t have developed our world in the way we did. That’s how we can learn from the Tohono O’Odham. By developing now, they are reverting back to many of the ways of living from the past. That’s not typical development as we would think of it but it is for them because it is allowing them to strengthen their culture, return to their traditional ways of growing food and living, and having a more fulfilling, healthy lifestyle. Development means improving life, not just improving the size of our wallets.