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James Paytiamo - Acoma Pueblo

Old age was simply a delightful time, when the old people sat on the sunny doorsteps, playing in the sun with the children, until they fall asleep. At last, they failed to wake up.

James Paytiamo - Acoma Pueblo

I remember the old men of my village. These old, old men used to prophesy about the coming of the white man. They would go about tapping their canes on the adobe floor of the house, and call to us children.

"Listen! Listen! The gray-eyed people are coming nearer and nearer. They are building an iron road. They are coming nearer every day. There will be a time when you will mix with these people. That is when the Gray Eyes are going to get you drink hot, black water, which you will drink whenever you eat. Then your teeth will become soft."

"They will get you to smoke at a young age, so that your eyes will run tears on windy days, and your eyesight will be poor. Your joints will crack when you want to move slowly and softly."

"You will sleep on soft beds and will not like to rise early. When you begin to wear heavy clothes and sleep under heavy covers, then you will grow lazy. Then there will be no more singing heard in the valleys you walk."

"When you begin to eat with iron sticks, your tones will grow louder. You will speak louder and talk over your parents. You will grow disobedient, You will mix with those gray-eyed people, and you will learn their ways; you will break up your homes, and murder and steal."

Such things have come true, and I have to compare my generation with the old generation. We are not as good as they were; we are not as healthy as they were.

How did these old men know what was coming? That is what I would like to know.

James Paytiamo - Acoma Pueblo

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