indians

On War’s Receiving End

Los Angeles Times
March 23, 2007
By Alex Tizon

FLAGSTAFF, ArizonaFour years later, the grieving parents are doing OK. Better than OK. They cruise through most days upbeat — determinedly grateful for all the good things given them since the worst day of their lives. They’ve received a pat on the back from the president. They’ve been given, free and clear, a new home on 5 1/2 acres, a mini-palace of stone and clay, which they’ve filled with gifts of paintings and statues and prayer quilts and hand-woven rugs. A veritable museum of tributes.

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Can One Man Turn the Tide?

Los Angeles Times
October 28, 2004
By Alex Tizon

NEWTOK, Alaska – The boys hunt for mastodon bones on the tundra as the women and girls gather salmonberries from their secret spots in the hills. The men keep busy with various manly things, fishing and fixing roofs and hauling water from the community well. It’s another sunny afternoon in this Eskimo village of 340 on Alaska’s west coast, and there isn’t the slightest hint that life is approaching a cataclysmic change. In as little as 10 years, the village will be swallowed up by a torrent of water from the Ninglick River, and an ancient way of life will be erased.

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Her Red Valley of Everlastingness

The Seattle Times
August 25, 2002
By Alex Tizon

MONUMENT VALLEY, Arizona — There might not be a place on Earth farther from the events of September 11 than Rose Yazzie’s heart. It isn’t a haughty or angry distance, but a simple sense of apartness summed up in the words: “That is your world; this is ours.” Yazzie is a Navajo. She is small and imperial, like a miniature queen, 58 years old but with the demeanor of an ancient. An ancient who wears Reeboks.

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Dissent Flickering in the Shadows

The Seattle Times
September 20, 2001
By Alex Tizon

HARDIN, Montana – Traveling east from Missoula, racing through the sprawling mass of Montana at 95 mph, feeling small and slow, ants crossing the Great Divide, we came finally to the state’s southeast corner where lies the battlefield of the Little Bighorn. If we were to hunt misgivings about the impending war, we’d probably find some here, or they would find us. This was the site of one of the nation’s most infamous military failures, also known as Custer’s Last Stand.

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The Killing of the Bears

The Seattle Times
January 30, 2000
By Alex Tizon

RIVERS INLET, British Columbia – The bones of grizzly bears litter the town dump in scattered piles. A skull here, a jawbone there. A rib cage picked clean by scavengers. Teeth as long as a grown man’s fingers. The first of the grizzlies were shot in September after they broke into trailers on the west end of the village. In October, six more were killed, and by mid-January, the tally had reached 14.

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When’s the Hunt? The World Awaits the Makah Tribe’s Next Move

The Seattle Times
December 1, 1998
By Alex Tizon

In the end of “Moby Dick,” Herman Melville’s epic tale of obsession on the high seas, the peg-legged Captain Ahab finally gets his white whale, and in the process, the whale gets him. I know this because I watched the movie. I couldn’t get through the book. It was too ponderous for my late-20th-century sensibility.

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The Whale Hunt

The Seattle Times
September 20, 1998
By Alex Tizon

NEAH BAY, Washington – One day next month, an eight-man crew of Makah Indians will launch a dugout canoe into the Pacific Ocean to hunt for a gray whale. Very likely they will find one. They might succeed in killing it or they might find that a 40-ton animal does not so easily give up life. This is certain: The commotion that will precede and follow the first thrown harpoon will be a spectacle of extraordinary proportions.

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“A Terrible Thing Was Done Here”: Journey to Wounded Knee

The Seattle Times
October 19, 1997
By Alex Tizon

PINE RIDGE, South Dakota Most everyone in the van was glad Vashti wasn’t driving. Nothing against her, but she drives the way she conducts much of her life: without due appreciation for the brake pedal. “My Juggernaut” is what husband Andy calls her. Andy had the wheel. Steady, smiling, always-thinking Andy with his Panama hat. They were headed to Wounded Knee, 17 miles down Reservation Road.

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