I have many stories to tell, but a specific one comes to mind just now. I was a camp counselor for a summer in New Mexico decades ago. The camp was outside of Indianapolis, and began when the paved road ended in Hannibal, MO. It was a two lane dirt road for the rest of the way. Kurt Vonnegut went there as a kid, his visit memorialized with pictures displayed at the camp.
We traveled throughout the 4-corner states area to the desert, mountains, and Indian ruins in some of the most remote areas one could drive to. Some of these areas were so remote, in fact, that we almost weren’t able to leave. Two of the kids in our group were part of the Zuni Indian tribe, one of the smaller tribes of the American southwest. They were fun loving kids, with unusually dark black hair compared to the others in the group. They also had different skills that they acquired from their years of living within their tribe, such as being able to make coyote and bird sounds, and they could always know where Zuni was, regardless of the time of day, or where they were at that time. Zuni was of course their home, the town of Zuni, on the Zuni reservation.
They could whistle ants out of a hole, they guided us through an ancient volcanic ash flow, and finally they took us to their town of Zuni to see the sacred Mesa, the Mud Dancers and the Rain Dance. While we were there, the boys took me to their home, and I met their grandmother. It was an adobe home with not even a front door. It was more poor than I recall poor ever being. I’ve been in the North Carolina countryside and the backroads of Durham,and I have seen and lived among very poor people. But the poverty in Zuni was different, it was more total and overwhelming.
In the last few years, having closed my toy design offices in Chicago and beginning to get back into the leather business, I have been thinking about what I can do, and who I can help. Poor towns in Mexico came to mind, to travel and build a school, or something to that effect. Yet I still couldn’t get over the immense poverty in Zuni, and I find myself returning to my memories of the boys and their adobe houses. I have tried to reach them without much success so far. But I’m not one to give up easily, if at all, and I have continued to try. I believe I may have met a man who is already helping and will let me find a place to help along with him, and hopefully together we may be able to give whatever help we can to the Zuni people.