IndigenousWell™

I had my first automobile accident at six. As the driver. That’s right – 6 years old.

A beater pickup on my grandpa’s farm near Ft. Gibson, Cherokee Nation. I sat on a small metal toolbox on the edge of the seat. This enabled me to see over the steering wheel and gave me the perfect distance to reach the pedals with my fully extended legs. It was just the two of us. I was his sole ranch hand that day.

My grandpa was standing in the back of the pickup as I drove, periodically parceling sections of a small square bale of hay off to the cows. A perfect row of alfalfa formed a wake as I drove across the pasture. At times, I was in idle. Sometimes I hit the gas. Sometimes I hit the brakes.

What a description for my life: “At times, I was in idle. Sometimes I hit the gas. Sometimes I hit the brakes.”

I’ve been hitting the gas more lately (with the exception of a week lost to another round of COVID). If you have followed this blog, you know one thing about me: I have never been able to workout consistently just because it will keep me healthy and it’s what I should do. Just because it’s a Tuesday.

That’s not how my brain works. Old ballers are stubborn and hard to de-program. I need to be training for a thing. I need a plan. It needs to be pre-season training for “something.” And now we are two months out from the big day.

On the horizon this fall? Hiking the Grand Canyon from Rim to Rim. One day. North to South. Down. Across. Up. The route we are taking is about 23 miles. I’ve done more than that (run/walk) several times, but not in that kind of environment. We’ll be going slow. Walking. Sweating.

We’ll start at 4 a.m. with headlamps. Finish, as a group, before the sun goes down. That’s the goal. And the best part is that I get to do it alongside some people that I really love and admire. And of course, cue the splendor and amazing views!

The make-up of this group is like one of those weird dreams. People from different parts of your life that shouldn’t be in the same room, but they are. Some of my friends from ASU and Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Two of my WashU college roomies. And my badass husband – who is older than all of us but will undoubtedly make this appear effortless.

And we are smart enough to make sure we have two absolute pros with us: a Cherokee woman who is a medical professional + endurance athlete AND a Navajo man who is an educator/lawyer + seasoned GC hiker. We are so fortunate.

A few ASU law students will also be hiking that day. They have such bright career futures ahead in Indian law that I sometimes feel as though I’m watching my own children grow. I’m excited for what they will eventually end up doing. Perhaps I’m even more interested in watching HOW they go about doing life. People are just endlessly fascinating, aren’t they?

And then I heard my grandfather yell at me from the back of the truck. I swear he said, “go!” He maintained (until the day he died) that he said “whoa!” Reasonable minds can differ.

Anyway, you know what happens when you push both the gas and the brake simultaneously? You peel out in a pasture. You run thru a make-shift metal gate and you add another dent to the truck. And you might toss an old man out of the truck bed. And you might dirty his overalls. And you might learn not to ever do that again. Or you might get addicted to the thrill of doing things that make your mom wince.

In order to keep the group size small, our October team is set in stone. We can’t add anymore people for this trip. But so many more adventures ahead.

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