Story. Write the Martin as a martyr as Steven Biko or Nelson Mandela into the Korea section as read through the Internet. Politicians from around the West come to do the vigil and not just as photo ops, some come in the dark of night. It is a duty, it is a call of honor, the protection of civil liberties. They won’t let Martin be shipped off to some secret prison.
The other thought is Utah.
I used to wake up early and go for walks into the canyons. After a few days of this, some of the kids started to join me, or rather they would follow behind and then take the secret paths they knew so well and pass me, spying from behind boulders and running ahead to jump out and scare me. I pretended to be frightened and sometimes I really was. There was one boy, probably ten years old, who was braver than the others and started talking to me, tentatively at first, shouting down silly comments from above, “Where ya’ goin? Are ya lost? Watch out for the mountain lions – or the injuns, the injuns’ll get ya.”
It took about a week of this before he was confident enough, certain of my harmlessness to walk along with me, although that isn’t quite accurate, he wasn’t so much with me as he was bouncing around me like a sprite or a guardian angel. His name was Joseph, and I considered, he made me think, during those quirky walking talks and in reflection afterwards that I wouldn’t mind if my boy Nate grew up to be like him. His name was Joseph, of course, and while he didn’t have six brothers, he had quite a few.
He taught me the back ways, the hidden trails of the canyons, secret caves with runes and writings on the walls that had never been seen by anthropologists. Despite his earlier catcalls about “injuns” he was remarkably well-informed about the local tribes. He knew these were sacred grounds and he respected them. His father met with them, the Utes, and they worked together, cooperating in their “off-the-grid” activities. When he turned 13, he told me, he would get to go to the longhouse ceremonies, special meetings where the youths were initiated into manhood, and important topics discussed in marathon sessions conducted in a specially built cabin, of sorts, partially dug into the soil like a baseball dugout, but entirely covered and heated by a fire in the center.
His father told hime about the meetings, how he had been invited after years of living in conjunction with the Utes out here in the wilderness.
I was intrigued and asked Joseph’s father, let’s call him Abraham for laughs, what these meetings were all about.
“Initially, they were a way of preserving their heritage,” he told me as we sat at their crude kitchen table when the kids were in bed. “Most of the Ute kids had no idea of their culture. There was a vacuum, and the elders themselves felt lost. So, they resumed these meetings which had survived by word of mouth and, ironically, in the writings of anthropologists, anglos, who had come to study their ways before they disappeared.
“In time these meetings became more than ceremonial. Serious topics were discussed. Casinos. Reservation politicies, last use issues, mining rights and all that. They were some of the same issues that existed when the anglos first arrived and confiscated their land. The problems hadn’t changed much – they were still getting ripped off, it wasn’t ancient history, it was today. So, they started looking at the old solutions, what had failed, why were they unable to stop the forces that had made them so miserable, such an oppressed people?
“A key determination was that there had been no inter-tribal unity. As separate nations they were lost, easily picked off, isolated, and defeated one by one. They started sending out emissaries, ambassadors to other tribes.