Day 36

Thanksgiving in the Navajo Nation For those of you who are unaware of the Navajo Nation, it is the biggest Native-American nation in the US. It stretches throughout the four-corner region of the southwest. Comparatively, it is about the size of New England without the Maine state. It is its own nation, with its own laws, and tribal government. In many ways it is like a third world country. The people live off of the land, and off of tourism. They live in hogans without running water or electricity. The schools are situated in certain areas throughout the reservation. They are boarding schools, and the students live there during the week, and then return to the land with their families during the weekend. It is a very unique culture. Monument Valley High School is the school in Kayenta. This is located in northeast Arizona around 40 miles south of Utah and the sacred Monument Valley. The compound was very quiet because most of the students and staff were away during this holiday break. Erick, a man who prides him self in bringing people together, was hosting this particular Thanksgiving for all those folks who remained on the rez. There must have been a dozen of us together. I helped Erick prepare the feast, cutting vegetables, splitting wood, and preparing the fire pit. We cooked the 22lb. Turkey outdoors on an open wood burning fire. The turkey was wrapped in five layers of tinfoil, and rotation was necessary for proper cooking. At first, I built the fire way too big. Erick was quite surprised and perhaps a bit annoyed. I enjoy playing with fire. However, he rolled with it, and said that it was a good way to defrost the bird. In the beginning a five-minute rotation was imperative. Rotation was done by picking up the bird with cooking mittens, and then flipping it on the strict rotation cycle. I set up the 8mm for some live video footage. It took six hours to properly cook our Thanksgiving dinner, and the wood smoked turkey turned out incredibly juicy and delicious. I was impressed, and very thankful to be with this crew on the final Thanksgiving of the 20th Century.