From the back of pickup trucks by Anthony Vasquez

Mar 8, 2019

Just having come back from a city of 26 million people in India on the other side of the world, I drove up to north Arizona in a car going backwards and found myself in an empty land of 1,300, again on the other side of the world.  Each place baring a significant weight on my heart, heavy, full of tears.

Euro-American paternalism, ethnocentrism, syncretism, culture, identity, “white man’s religion,” critical contextualization, paganism, savages, missiological paradigms, indigenous roots, neocolonial models, cultural form and meaning, sacred objects. . .

What do all of these words mean, and why should you, the city dweller, even care about their meaning? 

Out of sight, out of mind, right?

Should we talk more about who has the power to identify some practices as truthful and others as false?

Should we call it the Rez? Isn’t it the First Nation?

Of all this around me, what am I seeing? 

Is this brokenness a result of sin? But whose sin, who sinned first?

There are good people here, beautiful, strong people.

Some say missionaries/guests of the past failed to represent Jesus Christ appropriately to the host people of the land, which in turn failed to form a biblical indigenous faith among the tribes of North America.

What I saw, what I perceived, was trauma mixed up in all the dust of the land.

Proud dark eyes seen from the back of pickup trucks.


Dark hair everywhere.

Who is Jim Thorpe? Is he Thosh Collins?

Dark hair blowing in the wind, dusting up all that trauma.

“Fry bread is our ways, but not our tradition.” 

Where did all that white flour come from? Is there trauma in that too?

Driving down the road, on the right a ceremonial hogan, on the left a tent revival,

I think I heard them competing with drums. 

Wait, no. It was only my heart beating, as I held it in my hand.

Father, lead us to pray, lead us to more.


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