Highway 680 Revisited

Tesuque Charlie

WE RECEIVED A SERENDIPITOUS INVITE TO TESUQUE’S ANNUAL CORN DANCE, normally closed to the public. The rite of the maize has been celebrated yearly for millenniums. There were perhaps 150 men, women and children all in traditional clothing, dancing, drumming, singing around a circle of white-clad elders.

We followed our host Patricia into her ancient adobe house, under the cottonwoods, filled with a steady stream of friends and relatives. Our daughter disappeared with the other children, they shared everything, it appeared, except a common language. Warm and noisy, probably ten or so people sat on benches around a rectangular table. The food was passed from person to person. The chile was the best we’d ever had, and we felt not a touch of self-consciousness asking for seconds and then thirds. Although I had not planned to, I asked the hostess if I could speak to her for our magazine. She suggested we talk to her brother – a four-time Tesuque Pueblo Governor. He seemed bemused by the request.

Thanks for meeting. I feel honored that you agreed to talk to us. You don’t like the words ‘Native American’ or ‘Indigenous.’ How should I refer to you?

We don’t use those words. I’m Indian. We only got that name from the guy from Europe. They’re not our words. We have our own words. I have trouble with the definitions.

We are Ogowi, Ogowi. We are the Long Hairs. But nobody’s gonna know who you’re talking about. That could be any tribe. It’s just words for the long hair.

Why ‘The Long Hairs’?

We weren’t into the concept of going to a beauty salon or barber shop to cut our hair. It was done at home.

What do you worry about today?

I worry about a lot of things. I’m worried about our population increasing. At our Corn Dance, I saw little kids I hadn’t seen before. Our population is growing 2% each year. The government only gave us 17,000 acres. Our families are growing. Some families leave because they need bigger housing.

Families used to sit down at dinner table and discuss things. Now they sit down with their iPhones and media. It’s very sad. We need to share our stories. There are things I can’t talk to you about. We take an oath not to talk about some things. We have our own stories about our immersion.



Photo SFM