Polski3's View from Here

Quote of some personal revelence: "Is a dream a lie, that don't come true, or is it something worse?"

Saturday, January 28, 2006

Rez Life Part IV, Not in Balance or in harmony.....That's why it blew up.

Twenty years ago today, the US Space Shuttle CHALLENGER blew up shortly after taking off. (May our brave astronauts RIP) I recall sitting quietly as I heard about this tragedy on the news. At the time, I was teaching social studies and science up in the four corners area of Arizona, at Red Mesa High School. A week or so after the accident, I created a small classroom bulletin board display about the CHALLENGER, its crew and the accident.

The next day, I was seated at my desk grading some papers on my prep period when our building custodian, I'll call him Ben, came in. Ben was not just a custodian for our building. That was his "second" job. His primary job was as a Navajo "medicine man". (The section of the Navajo Nation where I taught still included many "traditional" Dine'. Medicine men were very respected members of this community.)

There are many types of 'medicine men', each is a specialist in providing one or maybe two of the many ceremonies for those Dine' who still follow the traditional path. Those seeking the services of a medicine man seek one who is a specialist at curing what ails them or providing the traditional guidance for a new stage of their life. (such as the young girl's puberty ceremony, or, the Enemy Way ceremony for someone has been away from the traditional lands of the Dine' (Navajo), as defined by their four sacred peaks for an extended period of time) The medicine man will guide the participants through the necessary steps or conduct the ceremony seeking to restore harmony and balance to the 'affected' person by having a ceremony. Think of these ceremonies as treatment.

Anyhow, Ben spent at least five minutes looking at my bulletin board display about the space shuttle disaster. Then he turned to me and said, "You know why that happened?"
I said, "Why".
Ben looked at the display, pointed to a picture of the CHALLENGER crew, and said, " Nakai Jin'nie, not supposed to do things like that." (Nakai Jin'nie is the Navajo term for black people. I was told it literally translates as "Black Mexicans" The Navajo referred to the Spanish and Mexicans as "Nakai") Ben went on to explain that it was ok for Biligaana (white people), even the women, to do things like fly up into outer space, but not the Nakai Jin'nie. "It made everything out of balance" he explained. Ben told me that the Dine' believe when someone does something they are not supposed to do, it throws things off balance and can make things dangerous. That's why it happened. It was all a matter of balance.

I wonder if there is a ceremony for restoring balance and harmony to teaching and teachers ?

Thanks for reading my blog! As always, your comments are welcome!