I was driving from Tuba City, AZ to Chinle, and I said to myself, "Self, if you see a sign at Oraibi, you will go there," Oraibi being the site of the oldest dwellings still in use in our grand land. It sits on Hopi lands, a small square surrounded
by the Navajo Reservation.
A tiny souvenir shop sign was the sign I was looking for. Pretty definite, don't you think? Anyhow, I parked and went into the tiny shop. Chatted
leisurely with the owner, came away with a ring and a wonderful kachina doll. I'm noticing while in the shop many Indian people on foot walking silently a hundred yards or so to the top of a hill. Hmmmmmmm. What will happen if I follow
them? They might hurl insults? Hurl me, if I'm where they don't want me? I'm no dummy, I'll know if they want me to leave.
Topping the crest, which turned out to be the back wall of the village square,
my breath burst from me in an audible gasp. Not from high altitude, mind you, but from the incredible sight. In the square, weaving and dancing to mesmerizing drumbeat, were Deer Dancers in full, colorful regalia. Astonishingly
After each session, gifts were thrown to the crowd. I, myself, the only person of the pale persuasion, was konked on the head with an apple which I deftly caught anyway to the crowd's laughter.
Was this a test? Don't know, but later a giant zuchinni was thrown, not at my head, but into my hands. The third gift was bubble gum. Were these gifts a joke on me? If so, I didn't get it; was filled with gratitude for being allowed
I'm not comfortable revealing more of the ceremony but I will say this: Sanford, Spitzer, Wiener, and Filner, were you Hopi, you guys would be in for it.
Later at a seminar I remarked to the presenter,
a pale expert on things Indian, that I had seen Deer Dancers. What! How do you know that? Well, they were masked. Masked! Are you sure? Of
course, I'm sure. I could almost hear him thinking, You made that up! (I have the bubble gum wrapper to prove it.)