Native Roots

Since Bea and I are going through Dexter withdrawals when it comes to TV we have been watching all The Office episodes we have available in Netflix. We rarely watch live TV now (except for the Hawks games) since we have so much available via Netflix. I am a documentary junkie and while most people will fall to sleep during some of the ones I watch. This weekend included The Mark of Cain and one of my new guilty pleasures (the marriage of documentaries with “reality tv) 30 days.

30 Days is a great show from the dude that stuffed his face with McDonalds and brought painful memories of my years as a burger flipper. I have seen most of season 1 and I started working on season 3. My favorite show until this weekend was when a Minute Man was sent to live for 30 days with a family of Illegal immigrants. However this weekend I watched as Morgan spent 30 days in an Indian Reservation.

My involvement with Native Americans outside of some extended family and friends that have percentages of native blood but have never been in a reservation; has been limited to a professional relationship with the Pottawatomie tribe while I worked on some of their computer systems. I never made it into the reservation when I was up there, and all of the facilities I visited were “luxurious.” Everyone I worked with up there in northern Wisconsin was extremely nice and it was very interesting to see how their facial features were extremely similar to people down many in Colombia.

My ancestry is hard to track, I know there are roots of many colors in both sides of my parents. One of those sides I did not learn about until I was 12 years old when I met some of my Mom’s distant relative during a summer trip. We spent some time up in a mountain in a small coffee town and I had the chance to learn about not just how coffee grows but also how a cow makes it in to a burger. A lot of the people I met up in Wisconsin looked eerily similar to some of my not so distant relatives. It makes sense, they are also in some ways Native Americans… you know the whole continent was at one point full of them.

My other weird coincidental connection with a tribe is interestingly enough the Navajo. I have extreme astigmatism, without my glasses I have a hard time focusing on detail. One of my ophthalmologist after letting me know that my eye color is actually pretty rare (gold and olive, her words, not mine) told me that she has only seen my level of astigmatism in one population before, the Navajo. A little research (google search) showed me that in fact the Navajo have a high occurrence of astigmatism, and while some of it can be environmental it seems that it is also genetic.

Genetics is a topic for another post, interesting subject for sure that I would like to learn more about beyond what I know from reading a lot about amateur fish breeding at one point. The thing that really stuck with me from the Navajo show though was the fact that the people from the tribe are stuck in two world with two cultures. I can relate to that quite a bit. One of the ladies that taught the language actually cried at the thought that her native language is disappearing. Also interesting was their view of mother earth and how connected they are to things that to the modern world seems to simply ignore.

I don’t know if I will ever get to discover where my roots really come from genetic wise or not, but it makes me somewhat sad that I have embraced civilization and I am almost allergic to the outdoors. Being connected to the earth we live in is not such a bad thing… who knows maybe some day I will actually get into the grove of a morning run to go face the sun before I start the day.

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