Loose Ends: Things left behind

dollyviscardiThe things we leave behind tell so much about us. Historical sites and museums across the country are filled with mundane artifacts of our daily lives. It is how the people used them and what effect the objects had on their lives that is most important.
No matter what took place in an area throughout the years, things like arrowheads or trade beads give the best picture into the past. Northwest Colorado was the home of the Northern Utes and though there is little of their life here that remains, the emotional connection still exists.
Even though the tribe was forcibly removed from their homeland, their bond to the land was not severed. They passed on their connection to their descendants, so their heritage continues.
For too many years, visitors to the White River Valley have had little clue into the lives of the native Americans who were here long before the rest of us.
The annual busloads of children arriving at the local museum each spring soon get a picture of what life was like before the tragic events that led to the establishment of an army camp in 1879.
Items in the museum aren’t the only introduction to that life, as tribal teachers and elders do their best to make sure the children learn how important the mountains and the river were to their people.
The educational concerns of the Smoking River Pow Wow committee are heartening, as they stress that it is the children who will be able to do something about changing our perception of each others’ lives.
From the beginning of the process to bring the two groups together, efforts have been made to go into the schools to bridge the cultural gap.
Plans are in the works for even more activities to introduce the children to each others’ cultural traditions by offering camping experiences.
Only in the talking stages at this point, the project merits more community interest.
Coming into Meeker for the first time, quite a few people are struck by the lack of native American flavor. Although most of us are sure that everyone knows the local history, the question, “Where did all the Indians go?” has been asked by more than one visitor. The second powwow was once again successful in bringing the two groups together and taking a burgeoning relationship to a new level.
The provocative conversations recently about the “Meeker Incident” and the politically correct way of addressing this touchy issue illustrate the importance of continuing the dialogue that has begun to open up between the Utes and Meekerites. It is heartening to see conversation rather than silence after all these years.