More Than a Chaco Contest Winner
Amy Sayers Rocker
Tags: chacos, chacumentary, rafting, Native American River Guide Training
I was not born on the river, nor was I raised on the river, but over the last six days, I have fallen in love with the Great San Juan and its people.
There is a dissonance that lies within me about how I came to experience the San Juan River, and the immense impact it has come to have on my life. What began as a fun photo contest on the Chaco website, has ended in a journey of learning and spiritual growth. To experience the San Juan and all it's beauty in a pair of Chacos is one thing, but to learn of its history through a people so connected to its past and present, has been an unparalleled gift to my husband and I.
This trip for us has allowed us to experience cultural immersion at its finest, being two of only three non-Native Americans to take part in the Native American River Guide Training Program. Never in my life have I spent time with a group of people so willing to accept others, share their stories and knowledge, and express their desire to keep their deep cultural ties to their past, and Mother Earth, alive.
While I have been drawn into the calm and loving ways of a people I knew little about, I also sense in them the unspoken, desperate need to learn about their past, teach their children what it means to be Hopi or Navajo, and to appreciate Mother Earth and all of her gifts to us.
I leave the river today having to say good-bye to my new brothers and sisters, but I take with me a desire to tell their story, and with eyes that see more clearly the gifts that surround me.
To Chaco, and to those who work tirelessly to keep this program strong (you know who you are,) thank-you. While I may not be river-born or river-raised, this love of the river I have found this week, will forever flow through me.
Winner of the 2010 Photo Contest