Reflections of losing languages from the Perspective of a Dine Elder

Phillip Standin... - Posted on 31 May 2016

Phillip Standing Bear, Lisa "Tiny" Gray Garcia, Tibu Garcia, and Cheyanne Standing Bear

Pulling up to Flagstaff AZ. I really enjoyed the way the trees wrapped around and through the town, it reminded me very much of the way the homes were built on the reservation in Pine Ridge SD. The snow from late winter was still a bit on the ground and when we pulled up to Talhoogan Infoshop, I felt like I was at home. We walked in and before my eyes I saw books everywhere and sweaters with the words, “Respect Existance, or Expect Resistance” I felt like I found a new POOR Magazine HQ.  My Favorite part of Talahoogan Infoshop was their donations room, where they had so many supplies for those that need it, from clothes to food and even medicine. These were true revolutionaries like us. Talahoogan Infoshop in Flagstaff AZ seemed like a second home to me.

Phillip Standing Bear here, with my interpretation of an interview with a Dine elder from the beautiful community of Flagstaff. Before we even got to meet Dave Benally, we were having a conversation with his son, Klee, a revolutionary who works with the community, about some of the problems his peoples faced. Including, but not limited to, poisoned water supply and land desecration. Klee was very knowledgeable about his people, their problems and what to do to fix them. I enjoyed having a coffee and dinner with him and my beautiful Sis-Star, Lisa “Tiny” Gray-Garcia. When his father came through though, we realized the importance of talking to his father.

            I could almost see the rolling, and broken hills of the desert that makes up his region, in his fathers face. He was a very dark red skin elder with the knowledge to back it up. When we asked him about what we could do to help him and his people through his troubles, he said to us this, “There is only one way everything can go back to the way it was, where people lived by need and not want. The Indian warrior must get a hold of himself and take, by force if necessary, our lands back.” I have to say, it sounded like he was angry for a time, but I soon realized it was sadness. It sounded to me as though he lost someone very close to him.

            I then proceeded to ask him about how hard it was to lose his language and he said, in his native tongue, “I have not lost my language, my peoples have yet to listen to my language” it seems to me we need to listen more to our elders, for they may have more to teach us than what they tell us.

            After everything was said and done and the interview was over, I thanked Klee’s father for doing the interview and instead, I was thanked for taking his opinion and making them public. He said to me, the youth need to know how to make their own news.

I thank creator I had a moment to talk and learn from such a knowledgeable man


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