• 08 Oct 2008

    Self discovery is a funny thing.  What starts out as a small observation, upon reflection, revels larger patterns.  It turns out that we are a pretty predictable lot.  I’ll try to explain.

    My motorcycle riding friends warned me about this leg of my journey.  Long, straight runs that go on forever.  For most riders, there can be no worse fate that facing a day of curveless roads and flat terrain. 

    Not for me.  I had the most amazing ride of my trip so far.  Yes, it was flat and straight.  But I was blessed with a ride free from traffic and wind through a landscape that came alive in orange hues and craggy geometries.  That feeling of being so small and still part of something so big.  Perfection.

    It turns out that this was not a isolated reaction.  I have a history of getting lost in the frictionless straight lines of my pursuits.  When it came to years of windsurfing, I never felt drawn to the wave jumping gymnastic maneuvers of my peers.  Nope.  The rush of pulling back on the sail and flying across water was all I needed.  Later, it appeared again in my love of kayaking.  Short river kayaks and the challenges of maneuvering through turbulent river runs left me flat.  But put me in my 17″ ocean kayak with a long stretch of open water ahead, and it is as good as church for me.

    But I digress.  This straight road led me to Needles, California.  It was here, in a restaurant parking lot that I met Michele Alvarado and Anita Holmes.

    Anita is a Native American from the Fort Mohave tribe.  Michele is a descendant of the same tribe and both women work for the Fort Mohave Police Department.  They are active in their community and have raised 8 children, 7 grandchildren and one great grandson between them.  What follows is a remarkable example of the heroic struggles happening across our country and the even more remarkable people who are willing to share their story.

    [Click the play button below to hear the audio]

    Anita Holmes

    For the record, I left this interview without ever asking who Michele and Anita were going to vote for.

    Posted by jm-admin @ 10:33 pm

11 Responses

  • Daniel Says:

    It’s very interesting to hear about an issue that affects this election that I’d bet at least 95% of us haven’t even considered with regards to who we pick as a candidate. I know that it never occurred to me that this particular issue would be one that is affected by the candidate choice. If i were to have to discuss with someone the repercussions for Native American issues of the election, I wouldn’t know how to start. I could only nod my head and agree, relying on the one court case I’ve read and random book excerpts I’ve seen to concur in saying that this is an issue that needs resolution.

    It’s fascinating what you’ve helped us (or at least me) learn just in these first couple days, Julie! Ride on, and stay safe!

  • Bobby Says:

    Wow, I figured I could get in on this without looking too bad because you wouldn’t have much posted yet… I was mistaken. You already have more going on here than any Facebook or Myspace page, and I look forward to viewing it in its entirety when I don’t have to get to sleep for early classes tomorrow.
    I did listen to this interview though. It’s interesting, I just read a case from the 1850s where Native Americans had to rally for 3 years to get the rights back to water from the Colorado River, water that had been promised to them by the government. Without it the reservations were useless, and for a while Native Americans were dying from malnourishment. How crazy is it for me to hear, one day later, that the government cuts back on medical coverage for Native Americans today. 150 years later! Old habits die hard I guess. I’ll bring that up in class next week, I’m sure there’s a lot of good discussion to be had.
    At any rate your postcard sits on its hallowed spot upside-down on our fridge. Once midterms are over I’ll harass my housemates into checking it out, they already think you’re the s–t (that might be more because you were an engineer, I’m not going to lie). Anyway I’m off, keep up the great work mom!


  • Dianne McSister Says:

    What a touching interview. The issues of Native Americans are huge and they have not been dealt with fairly. I appreciate their sacrifice. What I also realize from their story is just how universal their wants and needs are and how broken promises affect everyone. Access to health care, support for service people, sacrifices that are beyond understanding being shouldered disproportionately by certain groups and classes.

    In American today, health care should not be rationed, education should not be substandard, families should have support. These are basic needs in our society and we should be able to provide for them. Democracy doesn’t work when there are such huge divisions between those with access to the dream and those without. This is a critical issue in this election as the divide between the haves and have nots becomes wider and wider. We all need to care about this because it affects us all - when we diminish one, we diminish each of us.

    Keep going Julie - I get the beauty of the straight line!!

  • Roderick Says:

    YES. Thanks, Julie, for posting this. I can see your eyes tearing up in sympathy as Anita speaks.

    When I went through Wyoming on my trip, the locals warned me to watch out for the Indians on the reservation - they’re a bunch of layabouts and thieves - better watch your stuff.

    Nothing could have been further from the truth. I found the Native Americans to be very much like the Native Hawaiians I grew up with. Their story, their activism, was very familiar. Regular folks, same hopes and fears as everyone else.

    Have some beef stew with flatbread, if you get a chance!

  • Katie McDaughter Says:

    This was a great interview, I’m so glad that you were able to get Anita’s perspective on this! It’s interesting because it’s an issue that so many of us would have never thought of in regards to the upcoming election…

    I’m really enjoying the fact that you like the nice SAFE and WIND-LESS parts of your trip (it’s what every daughter wants to hear). I hope that you are enjoying your ride today which, in fact, you are probably on now. I love you mom!

  • Elina Khaymovich Says:

    I had no idea that Native American tribes do not get efficient medical care! I got really upset when i heard the story about the 6 year old girl who didn’t get treated on time. Good luck for the rest of the trip!

  • Roderick Says:

    Hi, Julie!

    Wish this thing had an edit button, now I have to live with what I wrote. I meant Fry Bread, not Flat Bread.

    And regarding straight lines, I think it’s far better to go a long ways in a straight line, than to run in circles with one shoe nailed to the floor — which is all most folks ever get to do.

  • Katie McDaughter Says:

    So mom, I think you might like my newest blog post.. You should check it out. :)

    (It’s linked in my name)

  • Mari Young Says:


    I just read your posting titled “My mom is cooler than I am” . I have been sobbing for the past 10 minutes. What a wonderful gift to give to your mom! Most of us have to be stiff in a wooden box before anyone says something this nice about us.

    You on the contrary are Julie’s daughter. That says it all. You have the wisdom to know that “now” is the time to let her know how proud and thankful you are to her. How amazed you are by her determination, her character and her dedication to you and Bobby. How blessed you (and all of us) are to have her in our lives.

    Thank you for writing this to your mom. I pray that one day I give my daughter reasons to feel about me the way you feel about your wonderful mom. Julie did a great job with you and Bobby. Your message is only a testatemnt to that.

    Much love,


  • Linda Says:

    Hi Julie and Katie,
    I just read your wonderful blog and I must ditto Mari. You are both a blessing to all of us.
    Love, Aunt Linda

  • Amanda Mullins Says:

    I have the honor and privelige to sit in the same office with Anita every day. She is so full of information,I sit in amazement everyday as I listen to her stories and the triumphs and tragedies of her people, the Fort Mojave Indian Tribe. I can’t wait to see what kinds of things she is going to have to say from day to day.
    She is so passionate for her people and what she believes in… she is an awesome,remarkable lady, and I can only wish that you out there could know her half as much as I do. I have learned awesome,awesome things about her people in the time I have worked with her. I can honestly say that she is one person that can get things DONE!