Sandwich House

BY PAMELA JO BOWMAN, MESA ARIZONA – When we went to do some research at the Indian reservation last week we listened to a CD by Paul Simon. His music sounds happy, but his words are haunting. We were listening to “Senorita With A Necklace Of Tears.” At the beginning, I wanted to dance but, slowly, I found my mood shift as I felt the irony of the song. Here we were on the reservation asking the Pima natives if any of them still practice their Indian cultural traditions. Paul was singing, “that’s the way it’s always been and that’s the way I want it to be.” sandwich_Pam.jpgThe Indians we spoke with reported that no one practices the old ways any more. But we discovered that they really do. Traditionally, the tribe was responsible for providing for each family. In the Pima tradition, food stores would be shared and the tribe would build a “sandwich house” for each family. A sandwich house was made of adobe sandwiched between lumber. (Note: This photo is me standing outside of a sandwich house in Sacaton.) Nowadays, the tribe is still expected to build each family a home, but now it is with casino funds and can take a number of years (like 20) for the distribution of funds. They told us that, eventually, the tribe builds their home. On the Paul Simon song, the last verse says,

Some people always want more
Some people are what they lack
Some folks open a door
Walk away and never look back

As in Zambia, the reservation, and in each of our individual lives, we open doors every day. We face ourselves and what we think we lack. It is our choices that enable us to walk through or walk away. Sometimes the answers aren’t about what is right or wrong or good or bad. But sometimes the choices are what we fear more, the unknown or more of the same. Live with regret or remorse. In the end what we have to live with is … ourselves.

Some people never say no
Some people never complain
Some folks have no idea
And others will never explain.

Haunting, no?

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