It Was That Indian


Simon Ortiz

from over by Bluewater
was the one who discovered uranium
west of Grants.
That's what they said.
He brought that green stone
into town one afternoon in 1953,
said he found it by the railroad tracks
over by Haystack Butte.
Tourist magazines did a couple of spreads
on him, photographed him in kodak color,
and the Chamber of Commerce celebrated
that Navajo man,
forgot for the time being
that the brothers
from Aacqu east of Grants
had killed that state patrolman,
and never mind also
that the city had a jail full of Indians.
The city fathers named
a city park after him
and some even wanted to put up a statue
of Martinez but others said
that was going too far for just an Indian
even if he was the one who started that area
into a boom.
Well, later on,
when some folks began to complain
about chemical poisons flowing into the streams
from the processing mills, carwrecks on highway 53,
lack of housing in Grants,
cave-ins in Section 33,
non-union support,
high cost of living,
and uranium radiation causing cancer,
they - the Chamber of Commerce - pointed out
that it was Martinez
that Navajo Indian from over by Bluewater
who discovered uranium,
it says so in this here brochure,
he found that green stone over by Haystack
out behind his hogan;
it was that Indian who started that boom.

From Woven Stone by Simon Ortiz, Vol. 21, in Sun Tracks an American Indian Literary Series, University of Arizona Press.
© 1992 Simon Ortiz Buy Now

Books by Simon Ortiz

Woven Stone, Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
Men on the Moon : Collected Short Stories, Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
After and Before the Lightning , Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press. (Hardcover)
Speaking for the Generations : Native Writers on Writing, Simon Ortiz (Editor), Univ. Arizona Press.
From Sand Creek : Rising in This Heart Which Is Our America, Simon Ortiz, Univ. Arizona Press.
The People Shall Continue, Simon Ortiz, Children's Book Press. (Library Binding)

Back to Day 9