In my lifetime, I have known two women whose accomplishments unequivocally qualified them to be honored with the title "Earth Mother". You can see a picture of one - Golda Meir - on the first page of this MEMOIRS OF A MEDIATED MIND section. The other woman is shown in this rare photo (ABOVE) which may be the only one ever taken of her. (It cost me quite a few bucks to wrest it from GETTY IMAGES - but it was worth it.)
Her name was Mina Lansa -- and she, like Golda, was also the "Kikmonqwi" or Chief of a self-contained and completely autocratic community . Golda's community - Israel - was only 25 years old when I knew her. But Mina's was at least 800 years old when I met her. In fact it is the oldest continuously inhabited village in what we now call the United States -- Old Oraibi on the Hopi Reservation.
The picture was taken in the early 60's - a decade or so before I met her. Mina was one of the Traditional Hopi elders who, along with "Grampa" David Monongye, had joined forces with a group of Traditional Navajo elders to show the world that they opposed the forced removal of thousands of Navajo people by the US Government off land they had occupied for centuries. The situation is now a famous case in Law called "The Hopi-Navajo Land Dispute". All kinds of books have been written about it. Ironically, the so-called "Dispute" was manufactured.
The real purpose behind the removal was to allow certain entities to exploit the various natural resources that exist under the land in question. So a very unusual Committee was formed to deal with the situation. It was comprised of David and Mina and about 20 other Hopi and Navajo elders, ranging in age from around 75 to 100 in years, but ageless in spirit.
Known around the world as "The Traditional Hopi/Navajo Committee", it became a spiritually driven force of nature that dedicated itself to protecting not only the people - but the land.
The years I spent assisting them in their struggle were among the most fascinating and educational years I ever had the privilege of experiencing. It was also during that time that I learned about a very special centuries-old responsibility Mina had as Kikmongwi of this particular Traditional Hopi community. It's the reason for this entry.
Each year, on a certain day around this time, Mina would go to the edge of the Mesa where Old Oraibi is located, look up at the Sun, and pray for its return -- so that the crops could grow and all living things could continue to thrive. I have no idea how long her singularly conducted prayer ceremony lasted, but I do know that each year, darned if the Sun - which was at it's farthest distance from us on that day - didn't start coming back.
So each year, around Winter Solstice, I think of Mina and her ceremony. This is just the first time I've had an opportunity to thank her publicly, for all of us.