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THE EDGE OF EXTINCTION:
CHRISTOPHER COLUMBUS, WILD HORSES,
AND NATIVE AMERICAN STYLE FLUTES
Some Native Americans wince when they hear the name Christopher Columbus. And probably with good reason. But since all of us are a mixed bag of blessings and curses, it's no wonder that old Chris would not be credited with his major contribution to Native America.
While courageous, daring, adventurous men may be on the edge of extinction, thanks to a handful of heartful people, Wild Horses and Native American flutes may be saved from such a fate.
The people who brought the Native American flute back from the edge of extinction will probably remain in relative obscurity, but the people who may succeed in saving the wild horses have garnered the attention of a National Geographic TV special, along with CNN coverage. That was a few years ago and since then Carlos LoPopolo of Los Lunas, NM, founder of the New Mexican Horse Project, has continued his undaunting efforts, along with the help of many horse lovers, to preserve the bloodlines of the original Spanish mustang.
In the words of the New Mexico Horse Project web site (http://www.nmhp.org), " the image of a band of horses running at breakneck speed across an open expanse is a vision that is known throughout the world and represents our country in all its glory."
A far less romantic image reported at the site, yet much more wide reaching in its effects takes us back even farther.
"1493: First horses to arrive in the New World were transported by Christopher Columbus on his second voyage." And here marks the beginning of Native America's inextricable partnership with the horse.
"1519: Cortez lands on the mainland and marches to Mexico City with sixteen horses. The natives had not seen horses before and thought the horse and rider were all one animal."
"1623: Fray Benevides in his journals makes a note of an encounter with a band of Gila Apaches and the War Chief is riding a horse. This is the first time any documents refer to Natives riding horses. The Spanish ... refused to allow Natives to ride horses."
I receive a phone call from Carlos LoPopolo. He thanks me for my Native American flute music. Carlos' wife is under the care of Dr. Allen Hamilton of Tucson who uses my flute music in his healing.
First Annual Wild Horse Round Up. Four horses are removed from the preserve. They are transported to
Dr. Allen Hamilton's Children Cancer Camp in Tucson, Arizona where a Crow Medicine Man burns sage, conducts ceremony and welcomes the descendants of the original Spanish mustang.
I stand off in the distance and intermingle the evocative, haunting sounds of my flutes with the sound of the Medicine Man's muted chant, joining the mystery of Christopher Columbus, wild horses and Native America.
And as I play, I see the horse and the rider as one again.