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Sadly, today is the last word for now from our far-flung and thoroughly thoughtful correspondent, the indomitable Forrest Borie. We here at Adventure Headquarters in Seattle have been lucky to have him on the team and we give you his last Adventure Guest Blog (we encourage you to check out his various web presences and pay attention to this up and coming – artist, adventurer and scholar), “This being my final entry, I’d like to thank the Adventure School for inviting me to blog for a month and for those of you who have followed my posts. If you’d like to read more about what I do out here in the Sierra Nevadas and more of my ruminations on the bridges between our psychic and physical selves, visit forrestborie.blogspot.com, which I will be updating regularly in a more long-winded form. I would also like to discuss something I haven’t really touched upon in any of my previous entries, that is, why exactly I’m working with the Mono Indians.

I am volunteering full time with
Americorps*VISTA
, a sort of domestic Peacecorps, a highly caffeinated version of the Americorps you all may be immediately familiar with (RE: red jackets working with urban youth). VISTA engages skilled individuals with the development of sustainable programs, that is, projects or services that will remain long after I am gone. While I had never postured myself to be a volunteer or administrator, at least not in any typical fashion, I took the opportunity given by our burgeoning job market and my mid-twenties ennui to actually do something worthwhile.

The program I am working to start is called the Intergenerational Cultural Preservation Program, though this name may change. This program is a response to generational depreciation in traditional knowledge among California Indians. The causes of this depreciation are varied, ranging from the viral invasiveness of Western culture to the esteem-busting power of poverty and dependence on government aid.

This generational depreciation is particularly pronounced in California due to the incredible number and diversity of the tribes (108 in total) and their small populations. It is my hope that a greater engagement by youth, adults, and Elders in their traditional ways of living will increase cultural esteem, and so encourage individuals to seek out individual economic sustainability, rather than remaining dependent on government assistance or profit-sharing from casino tribes. It’s a multi-pronged approach to a multi-pronged problem.

The Rancheria I am working on has little in the way of dedicated cultural programming, so I am working to construct the infrastructure of cultural preservation programming. I am opening accounts, forming committees, and accumulating resources that will exist within the Tribe’s administrative and community structure long after I am gone. In addition to resource and infrastructure building, I have dreams of commissioning a flash-based Mono language lab and the community-based production of a documentary about the history of this Rancheria.

If you are interested in learning more about this program, my experiences in building it, or how you might help (I am definitely looking for creative people skilled in the digital media arts), please do not feel shy e-mailing me: forrest.borie@gmail.com.

Thank you for reading!”

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We decorated a delightful spot in the Woodland Park Zoo to welcome the Doctors, families and especially children of the Polyclinic. We dressed up in a hilarious and FRIENDLY lion costume while the Woodland Park Zoo caterers served up BBQ. Windsocks in bold colors blew in the breeze as kids engaged in activities with the lovable lion and got their faces painted.

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“Some months ago I attended a meeting between the Rancheria’s tribal council and an energy company. The meeting took place at Balch Camp, the disputed sacred site that I mentioned in an earlier post. I brought my video camera along so I could collect footage of the meeting and the sacred sites we would be visiting.

The air was heavy with the animosity between these opposing parties. Passive aggression flowed like a river. LB lead representatives from the forest service and the energy company, along with myself, on a tour of sacred objects along the Western bank of the Dinkee Creek. With this context the energy company could no longer claim that they were surprised last year when they struck the body of a 10,000 year old woman nearby.

LB’s anger was felt in his bounding pace, his impatience and hostility towards the energy company and the forest service. We struggled to keep up with him as he gestured to countless pounding stones and ceremonial boulders, a fly by tour of incredible things that had me lagging behind as I tried to collect footage of it all (such a rare experience).

As we crossed a long pasture, I was distracted by a noose dangling from a tree. I shot a quick pan around this noose then jogged to catch up with LB. The ground was unsure so I was watching my oxfords awkward tumble about the stones, an eye out for rattlesnakes.

While crossing a broad flat boulder I noticed a brief flash, some incandescent ore within the otherwise uniformly granular stone. I am a bit of a “perma-stoner” so I quickly backed up to soak up this brief glimpse of celestial beauty captured in stone. It was then that I saw a pattern in the glinting star-like chips in the stone, a sort of tumbling infinite figure eight not unlike a strand of DNA.

I shot a quick video of the dots then galloped to catch up with LB.

I remember thinking at the time that some kid must’ve drawn them. The form didn’t strike me as having originated with the Mono Indians and these dots regressed in my mind, my ignorance of the rich cultural heritage of this region.

Yesterday, I was logging the footage. When I saw the dots, I called LB into the room to see what he thought of it. Suddenly, others were being called in and finally CB said:

“Remember what our aunt said?”

LB went told a story about when he was first engaged to his ex-wife. His aunt had lunch with him and his then-fiance. Beneath a tree, the Elder woman drew a path in the dust of two lines. They met in the beginning, grew distant from each other, then met again, grew distant, and again met.

“This is good, this is what your families have done. We meet, then we go away, then come again. This keeps our blood strong.”

The pattern did not look unlike a strand of DNA and resembled the image in the video.

I got goosebumps as I realized that I may have found an ancient ceremonial stone.

This is of course not for sure. We have to go find it again and verify the method and the form. For now though I am enlivened by discovery, and of something formally different than what I’ve known to come from the Mono Indians, holes bored deep into stones. This shows my relative ignorance of the incredible holism that weaves together the Mono people, whose history and spirituality are not just simplified renderings of those natural and psychical processes that birthed such complex symbolic systems as Christianity of Hinduism, but fundamentally different from these two examples”. celestial-dna.jpg
All text and images by Forrest Borie.

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Carol was celebrated in casual style with this Sweatpants!- themed 35th Birthday Bash. With over 300 pairs of paper sweatpants, large and small and a piazza-like festooned backyard, the party was set for perfection. Sturgeon, a crawfish boil and cheese handmade by chef Aaron Cruse complimented copious amounts of beer swilled straight from special “Carol is Turning 35″ beer coozies. A heartfelt speech by the birthday girl’s best pal was capped off with a secret spontaneous synchronized dance scene starring ten friends copied directly from the Freddie Prinze vehicle, She’s All That. The birthday girl and all of her guests celebrated in coordinated sweatpants, track suits, sweatskirts and even one Mariner’s uniform. A tequila toast served in Hard Rock Cafe shotglasses collected by the host’s uncle in as many different international cities directly preceded the Sweatpants Sweet Off Dessert competition – with the baker of a sweatpants shaped cake taking home the Sweatpants trophy. All in all it was a beautiful evening that will not be soon forgotten. Viva la sweats!

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Forrest Borie, intrepid cultural observer and writer living and working with the Mono Indians in California reports, “RM sits behind a desk sorting papers for a Tribal Council meeting. I have my feet up and am neglecting work. We’ve gotten in one of those long discussions where neither party is listening to the other. Like two independent threads that just happen to cover the same subject, our conversation twirls through the proper way to record an electric guitar, into running a business, and finally settles on the government dependency that RM sees as debilitating to Indians.
Perhaps, it is my general ignorance of this subject, but we seem to start connecting more and after he expresses his desire to steer the tribe towards government independence (buying land instead of getting it in trust from the government etc…) he tells me something very disturbing:

“The government requires 1/4 Indian blood to be considered Indian, but see that doesn’t work. In a few generations, with the blood diluting, there won’t be anyone with that much.”

On some of the bigger reservations this isn’t as much of a problem. With economic independence and a thriving tribal culture, some large reservations have radio stations in the tribal language and issue their own passports, but for the Rancherias of California with small populations this kind of government decree means complete eradication.

There’s no need to spell out the consequences of this or the disturbing rationale that one can’t help but assume the government is using to ensure that one day the BIA can be drastically scaled back and reciprocal benefits to Native Americans cut.

When I bring this up to LB later on, he corrects me:

“No, see, that’s determined by the tribe. Some up North are down to 1/16th required for somebody to be Indian. But I look around me, at some of my little cousins, and they’ll never be able to be members down here,” he says, “you know, people like to do what they want, but you know if I got a white woman pregnant, that baby would only be a quarter Indian. Down here, I’m only considered half because my dad’s people split from these people, they lived up there,” he gestures towards the hills, “one guy made a decision for all of them.”

I had wondered why LB’s father, SB, who is fluent in Mono and also the father of CB, the tribal administrator, was never mentioned when I was compiling a list of the Elders down on the Rancheria. Despite near full blood, he’s not Indian.

The tribal policy meant to exclude individual benefit leeches with negligible Indian blood and the BIA policy that federally recognizes tribes threaten the future of the California Indians. I couldn’t help but think of the running Indian joke about the Cherokee. While I don’t entirely understand it, one of the first things people joked with me about down here was that I was one eighteenth Cherokee. No sooner did they say this than the man I was living with at the time claimed he was in fact one eighteenth Cherokee.

“Might be able to claim benefits, man,” he said”.

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Then, you should check out this art opening by one of our friends, Seattle’s own Maikoiyo Alley-Barnes. Maikoiyo’s solo show, Nocturne: Bedtime Stories for the Jaded and Resilient opens tomorrow at Artistic Jeanius gallery. The Artistic Jeanius space is located at 1711 S. Halstead. Maikoiyo, a practitioner of so-called “Refuse Alchemy” will be presenting sculpture whose process forsakes burning, includes no molding and minimal subtraction; thus little physical waste. So, you would do well to get down to the Pilsen neighborhood to see the sculpture both indoors and out, witness the beat-making of Seattle’s DV One and have some fun from 6 to 11 p.m. Please tell them we said hello. Support Seattleites making art all around the world! Woo hoo!msculpt.jpg

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Last night, The Adventure School attended Farestart’s Guest Chef on the Waterfront at Elliot Hall on Pier 66. The hall was filled to capacity, over 1200 people attended, with all proceeds benefiting Farestart. It was totally awesome to see everyone eating and drinking for such a great cause. There were over 80 Seattle chef’s and wineries represented. The weather was sweet and we were very happy to be munching Veraci pizza and eating chocolate covered almond confections from Salty’s. We felt like the best food was from Canlis, who served some delicious pork accented by a Bing cherry. Our favorite drink was West Seattle’s Elliot Bay Brewing Company beer! We recommend that you check out the Farestart restaurant as well . . . go for the Veggie Reuben. Delicious!

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Here at The Adventure School, we love the Fourth of July, not just because it is a reason to throw a party with a really solid theme and a great color schematic, but because we also love our country, our friends, snacks and explosives. We also love to celebrate in the most patriotic place on Earth, Lake Tapps, Washington. Please enjoy some photos of our Fourth of July by local photographer, Mike Goldstein.fourth-of.jpgjuly.jpg

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Forrest Borie:
musician, preservationist, adventurer reports, “I met a spirit the night before heading to Balch Camp. I was at LB’s house, compacted on a smelly love seat beneath an afghan. Heavy radio rock blared from one of the bedrooms. I admired the walls, which were adorned with family photos and obsidian axes, busts circled with eagle feathers. A hand woven basket the size of a truck tire sat on the coffee table. It was filled with dried bundles of sage. Once I fell asleep, I quickly found myself in sleep paralysis. An anxious and nonthreatening male voice said:

“Hey, Hey Forrest.”

I have experienced so much sleep paralysis in my life that I am able to escape it, which I regrettably did without pause, only to fall into a dream of LB sitting in the chair across from the love seat.

“You have some strong spirits here,” I said to him.

Suddenly, the same spirit was standing before me. LB was gone. I did not feel like I was in danger, yet as the thin and potent man pulled me again, I resisted.

The next morning I told LB about the spirit.

“You know what’s really happened when it feels like they’re pulling you?”

“No,” I said, though I had a few longstanding theories at the time.

“That’s you pulling yourself,” LB said, quashing said longstanding theories.

I inferred that he meant it was me pulling myself back into consciousness. To release oneself to the spirit’s whims makes the paralysis much less uncomfortable: the choking sensation people often describe, the feeling of someone sitting on your chest.

“Anu, Forrest saw Anu,” LB exclaimed to his brother, who slouched, shrugged and avoided eye contact with me. LB fell into a tumbling narrative about a redheaded witch from a neighboring tribe that he fought with in his bedroom.

That was months ago. I told RM about this. He nodded and said:

“A few years back, there were a couple families that were into bad stuff: drinking, fighting, and there were these little dark men around. Lots of people see them. Stickman was there too up on the hill, a thin guy, you know, and he was playing with the children, distracting them from the little dark men, from what was going on. Lots of the kids saw him, hell, they were playing with him!”

RM went on to talk about when a neighboring Rancheria opened its casino, a monstrous many-tombed warehouse filled with ringing slot machines. RM said the little dark men were sitting on the steps, watching people go in.

“Lots of people saw them!” he said, as if my non-verbal enthusiasm was my way of placating him.

“You’re so lucky,” I replied, “to be elementally tied to the land like that.”

He cocked his head and I’m not sure he understood what I meant, but I wasn’t about to dig myself into a hole.

I was thinking of my Western spiritual heritage. The elemental spirits that might mediate my social troubles are born from the French and Irish countryside, an ocean away. All the same I have always been, ‘sensitive,’ however you take that. I saw a dream therapist that encouraged my proclivity to the supernatural rather than discounting it as childish whimsy.

While some might think that the Stickman leading children on chases through the woods is the product of imagination, a child’s way of compensating for upsetting circumstances (how cute and pitiful!), I find this to be the fundamental intellectual elitism that supplants the psychic importance of these spirits who are as much a part of the landscape as the Mono Indians. It is the natural empiricism of the Western world that “kills the butterflies,” so to speak, by qualifying such simple psychic entities with the impossibility of their physical existence. For me, these anecdotes are magical.

In many ways, the psychic heritage of the land is what is at stake. When these things cease being real, Stick men and the little dark men are just the artifacts of mythology, no more than fodder for a dissertation about those pre-colonial days before the arrival of the two-faced beacon of empirical science and monotheism”.

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