Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I spent the first part of this week in the western edges of the reservation in a place called Ak Chin at the clinic. The area is just south of Maricopa, a little explosion of homes in the middle of the desert that was a leftover dish from the gluttony of the real estate boom buffet. The little clinic in Ak Chin currently had a physician over the care there who experienced the third world conditions of health care in Zimbabwe for three years, quit medicine to teach high school and then returned to medicine from his brief six month teaching stint. I was afraid to ask if he thought medicine in Zimbabwe was easier than American high school. He is a walking medical resource library. I think all the online resources for health care professionals should be tapped into his brain to use as a server. His knowledge of medicine was only eclipsed by a his affable demeanor. He brought me on, showing me the ins and outs of the clinic..."don't hesitate to call the Ambulance" and "most people who come in won't need much." The other staff, a medical assistant, receptionist and a registered nurse, handled the flow of patients well with pleasant banter and attitudes to get things done right.

The casino is the major employer in the direct area and due to the crank down on the flow of finances in the area the slot machines and roulette tables were getting a little down time. I spoke with many people and heard stories of drinking, daredevil antics resulting in best freinds' deaths, cancer, suicide, divorce, rattlesnake bites, chasing coyotes (the actual animals not the red neck inspired bar maids from the pub) and death in the valley. Death from the great westward expansion of the appetites of men, mostly whitey. The timeless waters filling rivers in the valley were cut off from up river and the rivers dried to dust. The highway has bridges over the Gila River. When you drive over the river and the sign clearly says Gila River you look and everywhere the dust swirls in the breeze but no water. The irrigation canals now provide some areas with water but the Gila is a shell of the snake it once was.

The Great Government (my words not anyone else's) has promised the tribes in Gila River and all over the country if they settle on their neat reservations they would provide for the native peoples. The Great Government would provide health care, schooling and other benefits to the tribes for the remainder of forever. The tribes began building casinos and providing some income into their nations bringing prosperity into an otherwise languishing land. When the river dried up the farming Pima Indians could not farm extensively, began relying more on the prepared foods of the culture surrounding them and activity levels dropped off. To date the people of Gila River carry the distinction of the highest concentration of diabetics in the world. Health care costs grew and the Indian Health Services were obligated to provide their needs.

I don't have the facts, legislative documents, recorded messages from back hall congressional, senate or presidential meetings. I do have the words given me by members of the tribe. They are still, rightfully so, bitter about how things are from how things were. I feel at times responsible for this turn out but I can't take any full responsibility. The next idea to come from somewhere inside the Great Government was an idea to allow tribes to have ownership of their own health care. Pitched in the right wording and the tribes could believe they can manage and care for their members as they see fit. The Great Government would provide them with funds to use as they see most appropriate and if they wanted they could supplement their needs with casino funds. Eventually as casino funds grew the Great Government weaned off the funds initially earmarked for IHS. The Great Government could slowly grease their way out of one of the remaining obligations provided for the tribes by treaties. The Native American tribes were washed off the lands and placed on reservations a long time before modern sensibilities were accepted. These current times place the obligations observed by the Great Government as one of the final platforms to honor the atrocities Native Americans had to suffer. It appears even today we can attempt to weasel ourselves away from the needs of the original owners of this land for our own wants and needs.

The valley of the sun has been good to me and my family so far. I hope the rest of the week goes well. We miss everyone back home and shed some tears for you all.

Monday, November 3, 2008

The Hole in My Head

Sorry to my dear loving betrothed. She has once again bore the brunt of my stress level getting the best of me. I have to admit I was a complete a** this weekend. It is part of our agreement. If I come clean she won't divorce me yet.

The week rolled past me and over and through me like a cold wet heavy wind and left me shivering with no idea how I got here. I went to work every day, immersed in an entirely different culture, and learned where and how to do my job. I came back to our retreat in sun valley to find my wife wound down and my kids wound up. The former would head out on a couple of nights with her friend and I would be tossed into the draining post of managing the children's behavior all evening. The blessed darlings would be attentive and honorable all evening while I read to them by candlelight and we would snuggle in so everyone could hear the story well. Actually God would post his "off duty in this area" sign right outside our two bedroom apartment door and let hell reign for the evening possessing my darlings with little noisy demon grouse that breathe fire and scream all the time instead of talking. The beautiful evil-doers would unleash their cabin fever on their all too unprepared young father.

I woke up and it was Saturday...time to spend a day at the old ghost town. Little did everyone know I had intentions of hiring the whole clan out to the tourist site as dishwashers and peddlers. I had made it to the weekend but I was not in the mood, I was in THE MOOD. The dark, dreary, get me away from myself mood.

I took a bike ride around town. Chandler has a great bike lane on most of it's streets and the riding was pleasant. The riding was flat. I had to keep turning corners to keep my interest. The bike lanes are generous and respected by the auto drivers. I felt a little better but the day was still soured by my unpleasant disposition.

Sunday Shane and I went on the guy trip. To boulder at Papago park on hole in the rock.

We met a happy young father of three there with his two boys and one daughter, aged one whom he carried on his back in a back pack like device. He knew all of the cool areas to go around town to rock climb or spend outdoors. Shane played with the two boys and we climbed all over the rock. We didn't do anything too technical. It was a good time.

Anyway the week has started off better today.

Classes for Homeschoolers

As I was browsing the web for ideas on homeschooling, I came across a website for Arizona homeschooling. I have found that Arizona is an extremely friendly homeschooling state. So much so that they will provide help with finding curriculum and ideas and help with finding support groups. I also found out that the Mesa Public School District offers educational enrichment classes to all Arizona of charge!

I checked out Mesa's school district's Eagleridge Enrichment website and found that they offers classes for Savannah T-TH and F. She was able to pick classes she is interested in on T-TH and then she follows a set rotation of classes on Fri. Jim and I thought this would be ideal. It would give Savannah an opportunity to make friends, learn some new skills, and (bonus) get away from her siblings. She starts tomorrow! Her classes will be: Stagewriting, Kids Take Stage, Accelerated Reading, Spanish, History, Puppets and Props, and Band.

I also signed up Shane for the Friday class. He is not as thrilled as Savannah...