Snow, rain, and wind have been my companions here in Interzone, Gentle Reader of This Blog. I am missing the heat and sunshine of Tucson. My hope is that fair winds will arrive soon! In the meantime, son Rico had an assignment which led him out to shoot some video of the Wetlands, on the Haskell University grounds. I brought Little Egypt lunch to her office, and as it turned out, we all went with Rico to this old camp.
I take the old rail-road line, now made into a running, walking, and bike trail two miles down to the Old Indian School.
Almost to Haskell via the bike path. Most of the snow has melted. Its still a bit cold and windy, also muddy.
Haskell started out as an Indian School in 1884, then became a high school, then Junior College, then Haskell Native Nations University. The young Indian men were legendary athletes and the football teams were unbeatable in the 1910, 20's and 30's. Also noted as exceptional soldiers for their service during WW I in particular. Billy Mills, the Olympic Runner went to high school here. When the stadium opened, Jim Thorpe was on hand to watch a few games.
As a government industrial arts training school for Indian boys and girls, later known as Haskell Indian School, the place was pretty bleak. The intentions of the whites to help train Indians to farm and get jobs were over-shadowed by the fact that the government workers stole most of the money, supplies, and medicine to run the school. The first young men and women almost starved and many died of illness.
A lot of the young Native American boys and girls that came here were refugees from the Wars the US fought with the Plains Indians and some of the Southwest Tribes--Navajo, Apache, Comanche, etc. But they are not forgotten. This young man from Arizona, quite possibly I believe we have walked the same roads and had seen the same mountains. I wonder if he longed for the warm sun like I do at times. I tell him that in my mind, Tucson is still in my heart--and the friends I have there I have not forgotten.
Sometimes I dream, or I think I dream I see the smooth black pavement of Ina Rd on my commute route--I see the road from on my bike like I'm riding. Boss and I climbing Mt. Lemmon Hwy up to Molino... Sometimes I see the grass in my backyard that we planted for Callie. A few times I saw all the details of the tile on the kitchen floor at my house in Dog Mtn--its like I'm searching to see if it needs sweeping.
Its muddy out here as the snow has melted. Soon this area will be underwater. The land out here belongs to Haskell but the City of Interzone decided that they needed to drain what they said was just a swamp and a blight. They attempted this with out Haskell or Federal authority.
Some of the Haskell Students went out and worked on the area. While walking around, I spied a big alligator or snapping turtle in one of the canals. You really don't want to be walking around out here I think when it gets warmer--this place will be crawling with snakes, leeches, and fellows like these.
Its a sign of Spring when a big snapping turtle like this one digs out of his burrow. There's not much sun and it really isn't that warm, but Winter is moving aside for warm weather.
Cat tails in the swamp.
The higher ground was a camp ground for families--what I've heard is that people would hide out here and camp and then try to steal back their children. Most children were placed there against their will by the US government. I'm not sure the reliability of this information--but to a lot of the Indians, this area is very important. Just swamp land not much good for anything (hence put the Indian School there) but a sanctuary of sorts--a wild area away from the discipline of military-type education--and sometimes the only means to escape.
In 1992 Haskell Students made the Medicine Wheel out on the high ground in the swamps south of the University--now called Wetlands. This is a place of reverence and reflection; a good place. Quiet and peaceful, birds are everywhere and soon the otters and beavers will be working. That old turtle will be on the prowl I'm sure. The old swamp lands have now become a nature preserve--but as always, somebody wants to build or expand on land across the road, and they are aggressively fighting the Federal Wetlands designation for the area. As I said, attempts were made to drain the area and they got caught. The people were pretty upset about the dishonest dealings of some of the local city officials.
It is said that many Indian children tried to escape the school by running through and hiding in the Wetlands. Most perished. At that time I believe the swamps were much larger, and probably more difficult to get traverse.
Little Egypt goes back to work, Rico to class, and I head back home on the old rail line. Out here its not paved for a few miles. Soon I'm on the nice smooth path.