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Stove Program – Southwest Indian Foudation

October 9, 2013

New Mexico – Wednesday, October 2

When Tula and I were out walking last night, I happened to walk past a big building that houses the Southwest Indian Foundation. It sort of sounded familiar and then I recalled that I’ve seen catalogs from them. I looked them up online, and saw information about many programs that offer support for the local Navajo, Zuni and Hopi Indian families who live in the southwest desert and are sometimes called the “poorest of the poor.” One program I saw was the Stove Assistance program, where a team of two people go out to some of the Native American houses – or hogans – to install proper wood burning stoves. As I learned back in Arizona, more than half of these families heat with wood (many cook with wood too) and they can’t all afford wood burning stoves, so sometimes they just fashion stoves out of sawed-off water barrels or other metal containers, and that of course can lead to disaster. The Southwest Indian Foundation has a 2-man team that is able to go out and install wood-burning stoves when they are available. Knowing now how cold the winters can get in the desert, this was a program I wanted to support. So I made my donation, and then I also bought a new beaded watch (my old one broke long ago) from their catalog and proceeds from that sale also help benefit their programs. For those of you who may have seen their catalogs, the proceeds from sales – a fairly high percentage – do help out with many things like food, clothing, shelter, stoves, and water (many of the wells the Foundation built in the ’60s are still in use and need maintenance, and some families still have to haul water).

Tula and I walked a little more in Gallup, and then we stopped at a park on the way out of town and walked another mile before heading east. I drove for a while, and came to the town of Grants, where I would have turned off to go visit one of the many national parks (it’s hard to see the signs for them and know they’re not open) but Tula and I just walked a mile and a half in town instead. I was headed for Santa Fe – a pretty long drive from Gallup, but then there wouldn’t be much driving for the next few days. So I spent some more hours driving, and I wanted to stop off in a couple other little towns like San Felipe Pueblo and Santo Domingo Pueblo for some walking, but that didn’t really work out. There were big Welcome signs, but then they added notices that all visitors must check in with the governor’s office (probably closed by that time of day) and no photos were allowed, and I felt like I was trespassing. I had driven into one of the towns before seeing all the signs and there weren’t sidewalks anyway, and I think they’re trying to preserve a traditional way of life. The houses all seemed to be adobe, and there were big outdoor adobe ovens in many yards and that’s about all I noticed before leaving. I read later that one particular tribe only welcomes visitors to 2 special events a year. I’m glad they’re trying to preserve their rich culture.

I finished the drive to Santa Fe, then headed right for Old Town even though it was beginning to get dark. Old Town Santa Fe was still full of people, and even though some of the shops had closed, the restaurants and cafes and other places were still open, and there were plenty of street lamps, so Tula and I walked 3 miles up and down all the Old Town streets. All the buildings are made of adobe (or stucco?) and it looked just like I would imagine an old southwest town would look like a hundred years ago. There was a central plaza, and an old Mission-style church and other cathedrals, and the old governor’s palace. Santa Fe was founded in 1607, long before America was even a country, and was the capital of the territory under Spanish rule, and then under Mexican rule, before finally becoming the state capital when New Mexico was admitted into the United States. I tend to think of the New England colonies as being some of the oldest parts of the country, but Santa Fe has been around even longer. It’s also the highest state capital at an elevation of 7000 feet. I thoroughly enjoyed walking all around in the evening, and was looking forward to returning in the daylight. I also stopped by the actual State Capitol building, which is the only round capitol building in the country. It was lit up at night, and I walked around that too. Then it was time to call it a day – I’ve got some extra miles to walk in the days ahead. I was behind due to the hours of driving today, and the late afternoon entry into New Mexico yesterday, but I’ll get caught up!

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