This is Mike Gashwazra. He was 88 years old when this picture was taken. He is the oldest person in the oldest town in America, Hopi Village. This historical village is located in Arizona. This picture to me says so much. It shows an experienced and very wise man in thought about what is to come in the future, good or bad. Sadly for him most likely it's bad. He looks like a man with a story or a handful of stories, a man with a lot of life's wear and tear. This is important because being a religious leader in his community or any leader for that matter, means that experience and wisdom are very important factors. For people to look up to you and respect you as an elder and a leader, a leader needs to understand why something is or isn't right. In this case electricity and running water aren't as important to him as tradition and heritage.
Gashwazra and other traditional members of the Old Oraibi Native Americans have been fighting to keep electricity and running water out of the village. Praying to the rain gods worked just fine and is how they get water if they need it, he says. This conflict has been going on since 1906 and has even caused a split community. If they use running water then the rain gods won't send them any water any more. The traditionalists don't want anything to do with the ways of the "bahanna", another word for the white man.
To be able to connect Mike Gashwazra's story to today's world it is quite simple. Today we have lost touch with our history and our traditions. It is so easy to just get caught up in the advancements of our generations that we forget where we came from and why we did those things. I strongly believe that we could learn a lot of things from Mike Gashwazra and people like him that hold true and strong to their heritage, history, and tradition.
One question that kept crossing my mind as I proceeded to read this profile was that I wondered if there is any other places like this community struggling with similar conflicts? Also I wonder if there is another member of Mike's community that will fight this strongly for this traditional cause after Mike passes?
A word I looked up was "mesa" and it is an isolated flat-topped hill with steep sides found in landscapes with horizontal strata. Also I was wondering what religion they followed and I found that it's called "Maasaw". Meaning to be mannered, civilized, peaceable, polite, and to be one who adheres to the Hopi way.