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3 Sacred Evil: The Dark Side of Life along the San Juan

McPherson, Robert S. University Press of Colorado ePub

The Dark Side of Life along the San Juan

In traditional Navajo thought, control of spiritual power leads to control of physical power. How that power is used, be it for good or evil, depends not on its source but on how a person chooses to employ it. Goodness and evil are inverse images of each other, with similar but reversed principles guiding both. One brings life, the other death; one blesses, the other curses; one is orderly and prescribed, the other chaotic. Each of these qualities in opposition to the other fosters appreciation for life and the creations of the holy people. They are all sacred, are here for the People’s use, and carry results and consequences.

In this chapter the reader is introduced to the sacred and profane qualities of evil. A powerful force in Navajo beliefs, the nature of evil is an important concept to understand, even if one is not a practitioner of witchcraft. That is why medicine men who wish to help and cure still need a basic knowledge of the dark side. Without it, there is little understanding of how to combat it. Here the reader learns about that part of life many Navajos may be aware of but do not like to discuss. Too much knowledge may indicate that the person practices antisocial behavior shunned by the culture’s positive side. Yet without recognizing it, only half of the invisible world can be understood.

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Medium 9781607320524

Three: The Denver Tramway Crisis and the Struggle for Masculine Citizenship

R. Todd Laugen University Press of Colorado ePub

Just six years after the horrific violence of the Ten Days’ War after Ludlow, class warfare erupted in Denver. On August 5, 1920, an angry mob surrounded private guards employed by the Denver Tramway Company to break a five-day-old strike. Trapped inside the South Denver tramway facility on Broadway, more than one hundred strikebreakers feared the swelling crowd outside, which threw stones and lit a perimeter fence on fire. Guards then fired shots from inside the tramway facility, killing two nineteen-year-old men who were running away from the scene. Several others were wounded, but after midnight the police restored order and the crowd dispersed.1

The next evening, a crowd outside the East Side tramway barns again harassed and jeered strikebreakers. When a car loaded with reinforcements attempted to join the strikebreakers in the facility, bricks crashed against the radiator and smashed the windshield of their vehicle. In quick response, the strikebreakers opened fire on the crowd, killing five and wounding eleven, including several children. There were no striking workers killed or injured in these confrontations. When questioned later about the violence, the lead strikebreaker quipped, “All I can say is that we started on the defensive, but we answered as good as they gave.”2 With city police ultimately unable to cope, the mayor and governor appealed for federal help. On the seventh day of the streetcar strike, US Army soldiers arrived and declared martial law over the city of Denver.

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Medium 9781607322009

THREE Mining and Metallurgy, and the Evidence for Their Development in West Mexico

Aaron N. Shugar University Press of Colorado ePub

Blanca Maldonado

Mesoamerican metallurgy appeared suddenly in the western region of Mexico (Figure 3.1) by approximately AD 600 (Hosler 1988a, 1988b, 1988c, 1994). As was the case in a large part of the Andean region, metallurgy and metalworking in West Mexico, especially among the Tarascans and their neighbors, was based mainly on copper and its alloys. Although some utilitarian implements such as needles and fishhooks were made, most metal objects were considered to be sacred and were used for adornment in religious ceremonies, as well as to enhance the social and political status of the elites (Hosler 1988a, 1994; Pollard 1987, 1993). West Mexican metallurgy thus represents a valuable benchmark for understanding the cultural framework within which it developed.

The production of metal artifacts requires a specific body of knowledge and skills that imply an efficient utilization of the basic components of metallurgy: (1) ores; (2) use of fuel and making of fire; (3) the production of blast air by draught or bellows; and (4) the necessary tools, furnaces, and crucibles (see, e.g., Craddock 1995; Forbes 1950; Rothenberg, Tylecote, and Boydell 1978; Tylecote 1980). Because the transformation of metalliferous ore into finished metal objects involves many individual stages, numerous choices have to be made during the entire sequence of production. Metallurgists have a wide range of options available to them, including raw materials, tools and energy, techniques employed, and manufacturing sequences (see Sillar and Tite 2000, 4). Each stage in the process influences the final product.

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3 The Army Nurse

Lettie Gavin University Press of Colorado ePub

Several thousand skilled and patriotic U.S. nurses went to France in 1917–1918 to tend the sick and wounded of the American Expeditionary Forces (AEF).1 Perhaps many had signed on with a romanticized notion of what nursing entailed. Popular illustrations depicted a pretty young woman wearing a crisp white uniform emblazoned with a scarlet cross, a halo cap and flowing veil covering her hair. She hovered daintily over a smiling wounded soldier sitting up in bed, a spotless bandage wrapped around his head, his left arm trussed up in an immaculate sling. He smiled gratefully at his nurse, and probably fell in love with her on the spot.

Nothing in this popular fantasy could have prepared the nurse for the reality: lice-infested, mud-crusted uniforms, bloody bandages, gaping shrapnel wounds, hideously infected fractures, mustard gas burns, frantic coughing and choking from phosgene inhalation, groans and shrieks of pain, trauma from exposure, fatigue, and emotional collapse. Could the nurse have imagined her own horrified reaction when she saw that “every available spot—beds, stretchers and floor space—was occupied by a seriously wounded man. The overflow cases lay on the wet ground, waiting their turn to be moved under cover: We stood, tears mixing with the rain, feeling anger and frustration.”2 “A steady stream of patients [was] carried into the X-ray room . . . where the plates all showed foreign bodies and often the bubbles . . . of the dreadful gas gangrene.”3

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Medium 9781457109614

22 The Concept of Culture

Fernando Armstrong-Fumero University Press of Colorado ePub

Culture . . . civilization . . . progress. . . . What absolute or even relative value can one attribute to these terms? Overcoming the inevitable sensation of sloth that comes with the anticipation of muscular exertion, we went to leaf through the several pounds of paper with which the Royal Academy fixes and gives splendor to the language of Cervantes. But in the end, we changed our mind, and the respectable hulk remained untouched and serene on its cedar shelf. Such a consultation would have given us an academic definition of these terms, or a Spanish one, or one pertinent to all of Europe. But since our culture is not academic, or Spanish, or European, such a definition would have been exotic to our sensibilities. What’s more, the current European war has “modernized” the concept of culture, giving it a flexibility that makes it bounce like a rubber ball.

Any Mexican who has been in Europe or North America has undoubtedly seen that we are graced with the label of “an uncultured people” by the uninformed, by pedants, and even by men who aspire to illustration. The statement is not something to cry over, but it does move one to dot all his i’s.

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