It started with their crafts. I saw their jewelry in Yosemite. Remember Ansel Adams, the great photographer, his wife had a store in Yosemite of Indian-made objects, little rugs, and they had that jewelry. And I never liked these bourgeois gold, expensive jewelry, but their work, I just fell in love. And then I wrote books on their poetry. And I thought these are great poets, they are not recognized as great poets, and I feel, up to today, that they are very great poets because they feel nature. Not nature as feelings, but as forces, as energies in nature, that’s extraordinary.1 And they identify with that. They feel like they come out of it literally, and it’s true, we eat food. We eat nature, we breathe nature, we swim in it. So, it’s not a metaphor, it’s a reality. And in that sense, they are the best poets of those feelings.
And then I read about them, and I felt — and also I felt they were like the Palestinians in a way. And they were kicked out of their country. And they are the invisible — but Palestinians are visible — but it’s a problem, people wish — though they were only found, but with the Indians, they practically did, and still they are around. I had a student who was American-Indian, and he was so mixed up and unhappy, he couldn’t — they haven’t absorbed that shock yet, but they are numerous, but they are rare. And I met some Indian Hopi chief in Arizona, in his store.2 And he was treated — his name was Whitebear. And the woman who owned this store, talked to him, like he were a real bear, an animal, condescending and authoritarian at the same time. And it’s terrible.
I mean we still think that they are mentally inferior. They’re not. They’re using their weapons. But it’s not only weapons that make you — I mean nations that do not have atomic wars are not morons. So, it’s a current problem, it’s unconscious in people. Like I had an American friend who said, “Do you expect our country to treat Guatemala as an equal?”, and I said of course. They are not big in size, but individually they have a history, and they are like you and me, probably better, and he couldn’t absorb that America, with all its might, would treat the Guatemalan government as an equal, you see? So, this is — I understand that, but it’s unfair.