Once the trading post is closed and all the turquoise jewelry, sand paintings and Navajo rugs have been sold, Monday nights find me managing the affairs of Twin Rocks Cafe. No, there is no Monday Night Football for me.
Twin Rocks Feathery Escape Rug by Lucy Yazzie
The employees next door have long since arrived at the conclusion that I am a softy, so they pay little attention to my managerial directives. On one recent evening, the servers moved from table to table, delivering food, checking drink levels and picking up empty plates. As they did so, I toured the mostly empty back dining room, searching for wayward crumbs and French fries that had fallen to the floor; anything to appear busy. The staff was experienced and it was an exceptionally quiet evening, so everything was comfortably in order.
At a back table, a family enjoyed crispy rounds of fry bread and bowls of homemade beef stew. The mother and father were well turned out; scrupulously clean and well manicured. From their speech and the way they addressed their offspring, I could tell they had been well-educated and were experienced in the ways of the world.
The two daughters, likely in their early twenties, were also attractively dressed and well spoken. The young ladies each wore nicely crafted turquoise bracelets and their mother’s strong hands indicated she was, or had been, a rug weaver. From all this, I concluded they must be Navajo.
Although I knew it was impolite, that Mother Rose would be disappointed in me and that I had been better trained, I could not help eavesdropping on their conversation. So, acting like I was straightening catsup bottles and wiping marks from the tables, I lingered; engrossed in their dialoge.
What caught my attention was their animated discussion of intertribal marriage. Having spent the majority of my life as a white male in a mostly Navajo community, I have always been fascinated by how minority groups relate to each other. At times I have been absolutely astounded by the bias I have seen in those who have themselves felt the sting of discrimination. Rather than being more patient with, and tolerant of, individual differences, those comprising minority groups can be less understanding. That has always confounded me.
As the conversation continued, the family discussed social and societal differences, personal choices and lifestyle diversity at length, ultimately concluding that one must seek a partner who has had similar experiences. Race and ethnicity, they decided, was an issue, but not necessarily the determinative one.
As I moved away, sure I had overstayed my welcome, I heard the mother admonish her children, “Remember, we are a family of weavers. You gotta know how to shear the sheep.” The girls nodded in approval, acknowledging that their mother was reminding them to always remember their roots.
As the matriarch of the family stated, surely we must remember who we are and where we came from; never losing sight of our history. Just as surely, we should remember that others have equally important histories that help make us a diverse society. Variety, it is said, is the spice of life. So, in addition to the sheep, maybe we should also understand how to shear the llama, the goat and the alpaca.
With warm regards,
Steve, Barry and The Team
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