Saturday, July 14, 2007

It's Hard to Go Back

Trevor and Tatiana's family story is not a simple one as we found out one evening sitting at Rudy's ice cream hang out. When Trevor and Tatiana's parents stopped by to get the kids some treats they recognized us from church and sat down for a chat.

Trevor and Tatiana's mom explained to us how difficult it has been to return to the village after leaving for a few months to pursue their goals. Other members of the tribe are not as accepting of them and the kids are treated as outcasts by their "friends" (especially the middle school age kids). This was obviously upsetting to her but she is determined to have her kids in school (the Havasupai School is in turmoil since all the teachers have left), for her husband to continue with his studies at the bible college, and to better herself by working at a school as a behavioral counselor while taking evening classes in school administration. Her goal is to some day become principal of the Havasupai School.

There are so many issues here it is difficult to explore them all. For example, the issue of leaving the canyon and adjusting to life on the rim. Mom told us about her five-year old son's first day of school last September. He's so used to walking in the Supai village that when he was dismissed from his new school he walked home by himself. Of course, he wasn't supposed to and his teacher called Mom to inform her (obviously shaken) that she had no idea where he was. Mom told her that he was right there with her. Teacher (with great relief) told her he couldn't do that anymore! You can see that what's normal and accepted in the village is definitely not on the rim. We were told by a different villager that most people who leave cannot adjust and eventually return.

In all, the Supai are caught between a rock and a hard place. Leaving is difficult. Staying is difficult. Returning is difficult. We wonder what will happen to this group over time. Will they be able to rise above the issues that they and their children face and be able to preserve their heritage or will this tribe who makes their home in the most beautiful, remote village in the United States wither? Only time will tell.



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