O’siyo. The Hitchhiker’s Diaries, are a series of short stories based on the experiences of Native hitchhikers. The stories are told to a reporter and range from life lessons to Native myths. The following are some excerpts.
Excerpt: The Hitchhiker Diaries… By Cindy Yurth, Tséyi Bureau, The Navajo Times
“It’s been my long-held belief that everybody has a story, which I think you have to believe to end up in journalism. But Navajos seem to have the most interesting stories. When I pick up a hitchhiker, I always ask them to tell me a story. It makes the drive shorter and I get an insight into another life. I usually don’t ask the person his or her name, and I seldom reveal that I am a reporter. You get more honest stories that way.”
The Navajo and the Shalako
“When I was a teenager, I went to school in Fort Wingate. On the weekends, I sometimes hitchhiked home to Church Rock. One time I was walking along the frontage road trying to get back to school. It was getting dark, and no one was picking me up, so I started running. I would run until I got tired, and then walk. All of a sudden I could make out a real tall shape coming toward me. It was running fast. I had never seen one before, but I knew exactly what it was: a Zuni shalako. The thing was running right towards me. I didn’t know what to do. I looked around for a place to hide, but there was only sagebrush. When the shalako got close to me, it suddenly took off to the north, into the sagebrush.
You know how, sometimes, when you’re really scared, you pretend not to be, to make yourself feel less scared? That’s what I did. I started running after it. I was yelling, “Hey Shalako! Come back here! I’m not afraid of you! I have my own medicine!” Read more…
The Warrior Priestesses
“If I could have afforded college, I would have been an archeologist. But I never went. So I just kind of do it on my own. I live in a place with lots of Anasazi ruins. When no one’s looking, I go out there and dig around. Sometimes I find new ruins. Sometimes I tell Historical Preservation, and sometimes I just keep them to myself. You know, us Navajos, we’re not supposed to go to the ruins. So I don’t usually tell people I do this.
One day I was digging around this little ruin, and I found a couple of graves. They were both women, tall for Anasazis. They were dressed all in white buckskin, with beautiful belts and necklaces. They were beautiful. Well, you could tell they were beautiful when they were alive.
I just looked at them for a long time. I called them my warrior priestesses. Then I said a prayer and buried them back to how they were before.” Read more…
The Intervention Horse
“One time I went to a ceremony and started drinking. I didn’t stop for two years.
One day my son came up to me and said, Dad, if you don’t stop drinking, I’m taking all your stuff. I said, Go ahead! Take it! There’s my saddles over there. There’s my spurs. You might as well take the horse too. One day my son came to me again. He said, Dad, I can’t get that pony to come to me, no matter how I call him. He just hangs his head and stands there. I went out to the pasture with my son, and watched him call. My pony just stood there and shook his head. I said, No, you don’t call him like that. You have to be gentle, like this. I called my pony. He pricked up his ears, put up his head, and came running to me. My good horse, he had been waiting for me all this time. I started to cry.” Read more…
The Guy Who (almost) Saw Bigfoot
“I was drinking with some buddies at a windmill out near Klagetoh. I must have passed out at some point.
I remember waking up for a minute and thinking, ‘OK, I guess I’m sleeping outside. I hope it doesn’t get cold.’
Everyone had left. I only saw my own truck in the shadows. It was a dark night, not much of a moon.
Sometime in the middle of the night, I heard some rustling. Then there was a sound, a human sort of grunt. We had brought some snacks with us, and I thought maybe my buddies had come back to get the food or something. I was still out of it and went back to sleep.
In the morning, I got up and dusted myself off. I looked down and my heart jumped. There was a huge bare footprint in the dirt just a few feet from where I was sleeping.
It looked human but not quite. The toes were too long, and it was huge. Plus it was early fall, too cold for people to be going barefoot. That’s when I got scared.” Read more…
Kudos to the reporter and to the people who provided these wonderful stories. Note that this series goes back several years so you’ll have to search to read all of the stories.
“I may not have gone where I intended to go, but I think I have ended up where I needed to be.” ~Douglas Adams~