Wild horse herds, coal mines on the horizon, a people filled with strength protecting the natural existence of the earth. Long miles of non-industrialized land and flocks of sheep. The Navajo Reservation is overflowing with magic, sacred ritual and beautiful resistance. Resistance of a government set on taking sacred lands to be made into a digging ground for Peabody Coal. See, the Navajo Reservation is the most abundant resource of coal land left in North America. Even though the Navajo people have already been forced into reservations, the "worth" of the land has risen in the eyes of the greedy in power since it was found to be such a large coal deposit. So of course, now the Navajo have to struggle once more against relocation set about by those who don't know the real worth of the earth.
Out of this, though, rises those who would help protect the people and land of this area called Black Mesa in northern Arizona. I was honored to be among them. I was invited to participate in the Black Mesa Health Clinic and provide free service work to the Navajo people resisting relocation. The clinic consisted of herbalists and bodyworkers who held the intention of providing in whatever way they could, and never in any way overstepping the cultural beauty of this struggling people. I was surprised to find that the woman who originally helped organize the clinic is a Prescott College graduate, Rowen Tumbleweed. Her time at Prescott College consisted of studying the cultural struggle of indigenous peoples holding out against relocation and the loss of land to the ever devouring industrial market. At only 27, Rowen has become a leader on the forefront of supporting the Navajo resistors, and she has partnered with an amazing Navajo woman, Mary Catherine Smith, to help bring much needed health care to the reservation. It was so inspiring to meet someone who had come from the culture and incredible drive of Prescott College to create harmony and responsible global citizens. It was inspiring hearing of how Prescott College could influence someone to become such a successful leader of a support organization that affects real change.
I was also able to work on my studies of Traditional Chinese Medicine while I was on the reservation. This semester I created an independent study focusing in on the philosophies and practices connected with Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and I was able to practice and grow in these philosophies while providing care for the Navajo people. The massage I practiced most of the time was Shiatsu, a form of massage with its roots based in TCM that works both physically and energetically. Also, the herbal balancing that I learned from many of the herbalists respected the TCM philosophies.Getting hands on experience and actually feeling like I was affecting change was so rewarding.
The more I thought of it, the more I realized how lucky I am to be at Prescott. Through Prescott College I gained the massage therapy and herbalism skills to actively provide health care for many people during this clinic. Through Prescott College I made the connections that brought me to the reservation to be of service to people in need. Through Prescott College I have been given the freedom to create independent studies where I can get college credit for doing service work like this. Through Prescott College I continue to grow and be inspired not just by what people do while they are in school here, but also by what they do when they have their diploma.
Truly I am inspired. This place is amazing.
~Brittany Davis, 11.28.2011