Friday, October 14, 2011

The Story

My ancestors escaped the U.S. military’s attempted genocide of the Diné culture in 1863, in the months leading up to what is called “The Long Walk” (1864). The Long Walk was the forced deportation of the Navajo People by the U.S. government in 1864 and is also referred to as "Hweelde". Navajos were forced to walk for 450 miles at gunpoint from their homes in what is now the Navajo Nation reservation to a place called Bosque Redondo, in eastern New Mexico. Many died along the way from cold, starvation and murder. Many more died in Bosque Redondo from starvation, lice, vermin and disease.

In the months before The Long Walk, the U.S. military began their sweep south, from the San Juan basin through what is called Dinetah, the land of The People (the Navajo). A small U.S. military cavalry arrived at a homestead located in the east plains at the base of the Chuska mountains. A tracker led the group to this location where a family of six lived. After attempts to seize the household and deport the occupants failed, the parents were murdered. Three children, with an infant, fled east by foot.

A few military individuals separated from this cavalry to capture the children. The pursuit turned to a 300-mile trek along the Colorado plateau where the children hid among vast crevices, boulders and gorges. During the pursuit, the siblings’ infant brother died of malnutrition and they were forced to bury him in a crevice in a sandstone wall-face in the plateau. A 17- and 15-year-old and their nine-year-old sister survived. They continued fleeing east and made their way into what is currently the Cibola National Forest, along the Mt. Taylor mountain range. There the 15-year-old was attacked by a bear and killed while gathering firewood. The remaining two girls decided to leave the safety of the forest not only because the killer bear was in the vicinity but it was taboo to be near such an episode of death.

The two girls fled northeast onto the farmland of the Pueblo of Zia. Here a Zia Pueblo farmer found the girls on his crop field, took them home and hid them. The pursuing military tracked the two girls into the Pueblo and searched the homes. The farmer and his family hid the two girls in a woodbox under beddings and blankets. The girls miraculously escaped detection and the military party continued on toward Bernalillo, New Mexico. The two girls, Glinibah and Pablita, were adopted by the pueblo and raised as its own, learning the language and customs. The youngest girl, Pablita, married a Pueblo man with the last name Medina and they had a daughter, Loli, together. Loli married a Pueblo man named Jesus Salaz and they had two sons. Loli and her sons were baptized in the Pueblo Catholic Church and were given names of Polito and Frank Montoya. Polito Montoya had 12 children, 48 grandchildren, and 94 great-great grandchildren. I am one of his grandchildren.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

iPhone 4S HD Video Recording

Apple, Inc. introduces the new iOS5 and dual-core A5 chip into the iPhone series of phones calling it the iPhone 4S. Besides having the same design as the iPhone 4 it is very different inside and gives notice to a lot Apple myself. Most notably the HD Video Recording continues on the 4S and it relates to my current project of self-directing a short film. Yes, you heard it here, I will be filming my short film off an iPhone and seeing the iPhone technology evolving does good timing for me to say the least.

I currently have the iPhone 4 which has HD 720p with a 5-MP built-in camera and is optimal for some of my projects, but the new 4S has HD 1080p with 8-MP! Will I upgrade to the new 4S? Probably, but I am leaning towards the other features of iCloud and the new voice assistant, Siri, to be my new companions everyday.

The idea of filming from an iPhone occurred to me when recording my 4-yr old learn to ride her first bike. I immediately started searching other projects that used an iPhone to create film pieces. I came across some rough looking pieces showing hard transitions and bad audio.

Then I found a nice clip telling the story of a grandfather and his granddaughter window shopping through their small town. They come upon the shop with an antique train and grandfather recollects his own childhood experience with his own train set. The transitions looked pretty smooth and I was impressed with the angles of shots. What really caught my attention was how the iPhone was small enough to be attached to the model train. It meandered around the tracks and we see a point of view that was pretty neat. Seeing this work I strapped my iPhone 4 to my RC helicopter. Unfortunately, I misplaced the remote antennae, so once I get another one from my local Radio Shack I'll post "flight simulation videos".

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Monument Valley, Arizona to Fort Sumner, New Mexico USA

The author at Monument Valley, Arizona USA
I often thought about the distance my Dine' (Navajo) ancestors walked in 1860. The Long Walk which was the U.S. military's campaign to incarcerate the Dine' people was truly a tragic event still felt today. I cannot fathom the hardships of walking that distance with little to no necessities. The Dine' were herded from their homes from all over the southwest, including the far reaches of Grand Canyon National Park and Monument Valley Tribal Park. Grandmothers, grandfathers, toddlers and infants were pushed to their physical limits each day of the long walk and given what the military provided in food which were, to say the very least, new to their lean diets.

I traveled to Fort Sumner, New Mexico on a quest to locate a map c.1860 from the walls of the Bosque Redondo Memorial (the memorial opened June 4, 2005). This map artifact shows military routes and landmark place names represented by the U.S. military. During my first visit in 2006, I did not know I would need it as a major piece of research for my Chaco Project writing. I decided to return to the memorial after remembering the map and the supervising National Park Service Ranger (Grace) welcomed my story with such intrigue she searched deep in the memorial archives to locate this map. To my enthusiasm it was found and showed names of roads and landmarks I needed. I will post a portion of the map soon. In the developing novel, the antagonist - a contracted Ute tracker, will name these routes throughout his pursuit of three Dine' girls. Thanks again to NPS Ranger Grace!

Monument Valley Tribal park on the Utah/Arizona border celebrates massive buttes. Timed with early dawn you will stand amazed at the spectacle of colors displayed right after seeing the silhouettes of the buttes. I stood in awe then offered a flute melody.

Upon leaving the site I wondered which horizon the U.S. military emerged from to locate Dine' homesteads in the area. I imagine the U.S. government provided luxuries of horses, food, water, abundant fire power and mutual aid from local militia volunteers. Captured Dine' were forced to march 500 miles with only the clothes on their backs. I thought maybe some were allowed to take necessities such as blankets and small valuables, which led me to recount oral stories of military personnel and militia volunteers raping women, killing infants, terrorizing elders and torturing the Dine' as they were herded to Fort Sumner. I will post more narratives by individuals and texts soon.

The View Hotel, Monument Valley Tribal Park, Arizona USA
I traveled to these two locations in 2011: Bosque Redondo Memorial, Fort Sumner, New Mexico and Monument Valley Tribal Park, Arizona. These visits continued my research for developing characters in a novel about three Dine' girls who escaped the initial roundup south of the Four Corners area. I have tentatively titled the novel "The Great Chacoan Escape", but am warming to this blog's title of "Chaco Runner".