Friday, August 3, 2012


It started out as just another day at the trading post.  Danny, our internet manager, was at the Apple computer behind the cash register tweaking its programs, while Priscilla, our associate and main floor manager, was tweaking Danny.  I was in my office, putting together our weekly e-mailer and listening to their light banter.  Just then I heard the door chime ring and a man ask for help.  It seems a motorcyclist had driven past our buttress rocks in front of the trading post and mired himself in the deep gravel.  He was looking for a push to help him escape.  Danny quickly volunteered, and they headed out the door.  I came out of my office to see what was up and watch Danny do his good deed.

Navajo Horses and Ravens Basket - Lorraine Black (#218)

As Priscilla and I looked on from the refrigerated interior of the trading post, the mired man climbed aboard his entrenched BMW and hit the starter.  The 55 horsepower engine purred to life.  Alas, this was no Harley.  Nodding to Danny, the man dug his booted heels into the gravel and heaved backward.  Danny had a grip on the handlebars, and bent his back to add reverse thrust.  Between the two of them, they freed the bike and had it moving onto a more stable footing.  As Priscilla and I watched through the plate glass windows, the guy on the BMW prematurely popped the clutch and shot straight back at our computer guru.  Danny nearly became a very large bug on a very small windscreen.  Luckily Danny still had his hands on the handlebars and used the forward motion to push-off and dance to his left, skittering out of harm's way just in the nick of time.  Realizing he was about to run down a Good Samaritan, the driver yanked his handle bars to the left and spun a downward spiraling doughnut into the gravel.  In the blink of an eye there was one man sputtering in indignation and another, along with the motorbike, sputtering in dust.

In unison Priscilla and I sprinted to the Kokopelli doors, yanked them open and stepped out into the noonday heat.  I ran down the front steps and over to where Danny was attempting to dislodge the poor guy from beneath his beast.  I decided then and there Danny is a better man than I, because I probably would have taken offense to nearly being rundown.  I might have been tempted to add insult to the guy's injury by jumping up and down on him a time or two before letting him up.   "Foolish get's as foolish give's" is my rule of thumb.  Danny got the guy out and, as Priscilla directed from the porch, the three of us righted his motorbike, pointed it toward the road and rolled it onto a safer launch pad.

The Cordura encased motorcyclist attempted to regain his composure by rearranging his gear and gathering up a few broken parts from the crash site.   Danny and I noticed the BMW was sporting a number of Duct Tape repairs and realized this was not the man's first rodeo!  The visitor finished regrouping, donned his helmet, climbed aboard the bike, hit the starter and over-revved the engine one more time.  Danny and I stepped out of the way, barely avoiding a spray of gravel as rider and bike peeled out, nearly going down again before making it to the highway.  If ever there was a person unfit to travel the roads, byways and parking lots of the world on two wheels this was it.

As Danny and I stood there, heat waves dancing around our heads, the motorcyclist struggled to shift his BMW, finally found the gear he was looking for and sped down the road.  Standing in the noon day sun, I thought of the research I had been doing just before our maniacal friend showed up.  The subject was the horse, and its effect on Native American culture.  Before becoming engaged in this misadventure, I had discovered the horse was not indigenous to the western hemisphere.  Instead, we have Spanish explorers to thank for the equine species in our corner of the world.

As one might guess, the introduction of the horse had a profound impact upon Navajo culture.  Not only did it improve mobility and increase the range and frequency of contact with non-Navajos, it also altered the character of social relations within the tribe.  Horses made it possible to visit friends and family more frequently and travel to ceremonial events from much greater distances.  Thus, the horse expanded Native culture.

When Priscilla, Danny and I returned to work, our interaction with "Motorcycle Man" was still on my mind, so I Goggled  "The creation of the first motorcycle" and  learned that in 1885 the German Company Daimler gave the world its first "true" motorcycle, an expression of horsepower through the internal combustion engine.  The arrival of the horse and then the motorcycle brought a whole new way of life to many people, each came to signify power, speed and wealth.  I am, however, certain the horse gods and creators of the motorcycle did not intend to give everyone access to these gifts.  Surely this was one example of someone who should not have been granted the privilege.

With warm regards,
Barry, Steve and The Team

Great New Items! This week's selection of Native American art!

Our TnT's purchased new treasures! Check out Traders in Training!

Enjoy artwork from our many collector friends in Living with the Art!

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