Guidelines for Fully Living, Part 4

  1. Be still and quiet
  2. Do not interrupt
  3. Apologize
  4. Mind your manners
  5. Watch the watchers
  6. Go boldly where no one has gone before; do it.
  7. Shoulders back, chest out, head up
  8. Don’t take yourself too seriously
  9. Rest is as holy as work
  10. Practice, practice, practice (if you want to improve)

Poverty on the Navajo Nation

In a previous post, I briefly discussed the “third world nation” status of the Navajo Nation (NN). This was primarily due to the poverty issues they face.  Yet the NN received millions of federal and state funds – enough to distribute non-trivial monthly checks to each family living on the “Rez.”  On the other hand, citizens of the Navajo Nation:
  • do not pay federal or state taxes.
  • do not pay to register and license their vehicles
  • do not pay real estate taxes
  • rarely have house payments
  • never have to pay for land, since no one owns the land (yet every family has an allotment of land)
  • rarely have credit cards, so their debt load is minimal, usually a vehicle payment
  • receive free medical, dental, and eye care
  • much of their education is paid for by the tribe via workforce development or other social agencies.

How can one explain the ironies of monthly checks, incredible tax breaks and other government provision, and persistent poverty?  Government Dependency is an insidious thing.

Dine Culture

Dina dancerI learned several years ago that to engage a new culture, one can learn their songs, dance, and food.  When we lived in Kentucky we learned to eat Hot Brown and enjoy Bluegrass Music.  We went with some friends to the granddaddy of all Bluegrass Festivals in Lexington, KY.  It was great.  We saw and heard most of the performers who provided the music for the movie released about a year later – “O, Brother, Where Art Thou.”  We also took clogging lessons.  That was great fun, and it got us accepted into the culture very quickly.

In the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area, where much of the population has an Eastern European immigrant heritage, we went to the almost weekly festivals at area churches and other venues.  There we were introduced to the amazing foods new to us – like pierogies and baclava.  And we gained a new appreciation for polka and other folk dances.

On the Navajo Nation, the native music is mostly Navajo language chant, and the dances are part of their religion.  So, we struggle to learn and engage in their culture.  But, we keep trying.