Million Mile Walker Dispatch, From Winslow, Arizona to Canyon de Chelly & Much More! November Edition, 2021


From Winslow, Arizona to Canyon de Chelly & So Much More!

Friends and Colleagues from Around the World,

This month, my latest Million Mile Walker trek took me through two cultures in Arizona. Culture Watch will include an eye-opening survey on the best to worst Presidents in U. S. history, which puts some current events into perspective.  Given all the negative news as of late, I’ve included my Just Keep Laughing segment and, as always, you’ll find My Writing and Reviews, Voices of the Day, What Others Are Saying and an updated Calendar. And click on the poster above to see my Million Mile Walker Review column, and two of my articles featured in the new “Short Releases,” which are part of the latest Arizona Authors Association newsletter.

Culture Watch
Over five years had passed since my wife, Ligia, and I traveled with my middle daughter and her hubby, Ed, to Guatemala, so I’ve been pushing for a visit to the Canyon de Chelly National Monument here in Arizona since we haven’t gotten to know the Indigenous culture in our own state. We started off in La Posada Hotel in Winslow, which was one of the Fred Harvey Railroad Hotels designed by architect Mary Jane Colter. Close by is the iconic “Standin’ on the Corner Park” made famous by the classic rock Eagles song, “Take It Easy.”

As comfortable and historic as La Posada is, we were off to another culture in the Navajo Nation where people speak a different language, follow different rules and have a different way of life. The canyon has been inhabited for over 5,000 years, so we had a lot to learn. We met Juana, a personable ranger at the park welcome center and I learned she lived only 15 miles away. She also informed me that 40% of Navajos still don’t have water and many don’t have electricity. She must fill large barrels with 750 gallons of water for her needs, as well those of their cattle.

Before we left, we hooked up with Elvis, another park ranger who showed us around the Hogan dwelling. He spoke to us in Navajo, which is a complex language and the basis for the important role the “Navajo Code Breakers” played saving the lives of U.S. soldiers in the Philippines. Despite the obvious pride in his language and customs, he told us that as a child, the local missionaries washed his mouth out with soap if he spoke in his native tongue.

With all these nuances, we weren’t surprised that to access certain parts of the park we’d need a local guide like Fernando, whose grandfather, father, and uncles were all tour guides. The sheer cliffs and the ruins of the Anasazi farmers, and later Hopi and Navajo inhabitances, made for four hours of fascinating stories. One imposing formation, the “Navajo Fortress,” was a refuge for hundreds of Navajo families who were trying to avoid the devastation of Kit Carson, who led U.S. troops to burn their homes and kill their sheep and cattle. This led to the tragic “Long Walk” of 1863-1868 to Fort Kearney, and a peace treaty was not signed for 17 long, destructive years.

Heading south, we visited the Hubbell Trading Post, which was filled with Native jewelry, rugs, and pottery. In 1965, Congress made the trading post a national historic site, with the understanding that it would remain a business operation representing a unique relationship between the Park Service and a business, which is what the trading post is. As we headed home, I thanked Nicky and Ed for organizing this trek and suggested that we consider the Chaco Culture National Historic Park, which is one of the largest prehistoric buildings on the continent. The Chaco Canyon was also a center for ancestral Puebloans and a key trading center with Central America. Can’t wait!
Rating our Presidents provides some perspective to these confusing times we live in. James Buchanan was one of the worst, as he precipitated the Civil War; Lincoln was the best; Reagan 13th & Obama 17th. Andrew Johnson was the worst and was the first to face impeachment. Not surprisingly, Trump was rated among the bottom five, and the only President to be impeached by the House twice. He also has the lowest ratings for integrity, intelligence and general ability. The big question for historians is how they will rate Trump’s followers… Here’s an overview of the survey:
My Writing and Reviews

My third article in “Literary Traveler,” La Pulsera, (The Bracelet) is out and includes a “comment section” at the end, so let us know your experiences in Mexico and your response to the essay.

I’ll read another version of this essay next March at the Carefree Pavilion as part of the “Love of Story” program.
Uncovering the Art of Francisco Goldman” is featured in “Revue Magazine” and was a winner in the Arizona Authors Association Literary award program! This essay has a comment section at the end, so let us know what you think about the article and the author whose book, The Art of Political Murder, is now an HBO Emmy nominated documentary.

This was the book I took on my recent trek through Hopi and Navajo country. A Native American look at 400 years of history, which reveals how Native Americans actively resisted expansion of “Manifest Destiny.”

Inspirational Netflix film of Te Ata, who was an actress and citizen of the Chickasaw Nation known for telling Native American stories. The film depicts the prejudices and struggles she dealt with to perform as a representative of Native Americans at state dinners before President Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1930s. She was inducted into the Oklahoma Hall of Fame in 1957 and was named Oklahoma’s first State Treasure in 1987. Te Ata Fisher – Wikipedia

Just Keep Laughing

Arizona based Jacob Chansley, better known as the QAnon Shaman was sentenced to 41 months in the slammer for his role in the January 6 attack on the Capitol.

To which Stephen Colbert quipped, “That’s nearly three and a half years, so with good behavior, he could be out in time to storm the Capitol in 2024.”

Jimmy Kimmel added, “He apologized for storming the Capitol and said he often looks in the mirror and tells himself, ‘You really messed up, royally.’ Maybe if he’d taken a look in the mirror sooner, he would have noticed he had a dead raccoon on his head.”

While former President Trump supported Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar at a rally after Gosar posted a video of him killing a colleague, Gosar’s sister was sick of his antics and called him a “sociopath.” And Gosar was stripped of his Congressional assignments. So why is he still in Washington?

Even SNL slammed Gosar during their ’Weekend Update,’ although they acknowledged that he’s “beyond parody.” I’m looking for someone to help establish a criterion for “Wackos” so we can rate each state, although I’m sure that Arizona will be far and away the winner.

Voices In Action

“Why do old men wake so early? Is it to have one longer day?”
Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea

“A great many people who think they are thinking were merely rearranging their prejudices.” William James

What Others Are Saying About Us

On last month’s Dispatch:
What a terrific read! I’m so impressed that you covered authoritarianism and the Trump election loss. Wow. Fascinating stuff – excellent references. I’m so glad that I’m on your mailing list. – Brad Graber, fellow author of three award winning books and a new one!  Boca by Moonlight.

On a new take of my essay, “La Pulsera,” which will be part of the “Love of Story” Program:
Great revision Mark!!  More concise and some lovely emotional nuance.  Really like how you bring the bracelet back as a unifying symbol of friendship and connection in last paragraph – also laughed when I read incident you were the speaker onstage at fundraising conference so immersed in admiring the frescos you forgot to speak. Believe that’s a great, funny, real moment the audience will relate to. Such generous and unique endeavors you’ve been involved with… Nancy Gutfreund, Director


  • March 27th, Carefree Pavilion, a reading of “La Pulsera” as part of the “Love of Story” program.

You can find my 60 book reviews and 28 articles, plus several videos at “Follow” me on Twitter., @millionmile_wal and Facebook for the latest on international affairs and literature. And, as always, if you’ve read “Different Latitudes: My Life in the Peace Corps and Beyond,” by all means, rate it on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and GoodReads, or if you don’t have it, please consider purchasing it.


Mark Walker

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