Carlos Peney Mose
The massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary was the catalyst for my activism, but another personal connection to a violent death of a Navajo guide inspired the Sodina name. The word for constellation in Navajo is: “So’ Dine’é.” It means “Star People.” You can learn more about the Sodina name and project here.
Our family took a driving trip around the southwest the summer of 2011 . While the Anasazi cliff dwellings and the Grand Canyon were awe-inspiring, however, the highlight of our trip was a tour and overnight stay in Monument Valley.
Over the course of twenty four hours, we made a connection with with our guide. Carlos, a photographer and Navajo guide hesitated at one point and offered a diversion from his usual tour behind the public access roads of his Navajo land. We parked and walked to a rock formation where he showed us rock carvings and hand prints. He then played a few flutes, a drum and sang. As he began to play the first flute song, a grazing cow joined us inside the formation and drank from a pool of water in between Carlos and us. It was a spiritual moment.
As we walked back to the truck, we started talking about his challenges, those of his family and the Navajo people. The topic came up a few times over the course of our tour. He seemed to walk a fine line between his Native American heritage and the “modern” world, which was sometimes at odds with family and friends. One point of contention was whether to share their sacred land with outsiders in order to make money to sustain themselves. Carlos was torn between two worlds he valued and honored and tried to satisfy both to the best of his ability. The beautiful landscape, hospitality, and especially the personal connection with our guide, made this the highlight of our trip.
Sometime after the shooting in Newtown, a friend called the tour company requesting Carlos as their guide. She learned and sadly relayed to us that Carlos had been shot and killed in a domestic violence incident. Our family now knew another victim of a violent death.
Calls to action:
- The Sodina Project shares stories to foster connection and save lives. This grass-roots movement needs your help in connecting with others. Please share the stories and blog posts with your friends and social networks if they have moved you or made you reflective. You will find sharing options at the end of each post.
- Visit our gun violence/safety page to learn about and get involved with groups advocating for ways to reduce gun violence.
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Sodina | Voices to Stop Violence
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