Student Reflections

Taking Time for Diversity

I took a trip through the Pueblo of Isleta today on my way to a meeting. I was amazed at how much I have forgotten – the beauty and uniqueness of the pueblo, the strength of the people who live there and have lived there for so long, and the richness of the history and culture which are so easily overlooked. It is easy to get caught in our own world and forget that there is a vast world out there which is full of different types of people. In so many ways, we are all so different. Yet there are also a multitude of ways in which we are the same. It is worth learning about other cultures, especially as an American learning about the first Americans who were and are so resilient.

There are regularly events around us that will help us to understand the cultures that surround us, if only we are willing to step out of our box and experience them. It is only by first-hand experience that we can truly learn what lies in our hearts and in the hearts of those around us. We can read about culture all day, but only by immersion can we truly understand the importance of the cultures that surround us. So, I encourage you to step out of your box and experience something new. Go to a feast day. Go to a dance at the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center. Visit a historical site or a pueblo that offers tours and explanations of their history. It is well worth the trip.

Culture and the Universe


Two nights ago
in the canyon darkness,
only the half-moon and stars,
only mere men.
Prayer, faith, love,

We are measured
by vastness beyond ourselves.
Dark is light.
Stone is rising.

I don’t know
if humankind understands
culture: the act
of being human
is not easy knowledge.

With painted wooden sticks
and feathers, we journey
into the canyon toward stone,
a massive presence
in midwinter.

We stop.
Lean into me.
The universe
sings in quiet meditation.

We are wordless:
I am in you.

Without knowing why
culture needs our knowledge,
we are one self in the canyon.
And the stone wall
I lean upon spins me
wordless and silent
to the reach of stars
and to the heavens within.

It’s not humankind after all
nor is it culture
that limits us.
It is the vastness
we do not enter.
It is the stars
we do not let own us.[1]

By Cari Neill

Cari Neill is a 3L at the University of New Mexico School of Law.

[1] Simon Ortiz, “Culture and the Universe” from Out There Somewhere. Copyright © 2002 by Simon Ortiz. Reprinted by permission of University of Arizona Press.

By Tribal Law Journal Blog

The Tribal Law Journal was established in fall 1998 for the purpose of promoting indigenous self-determination by facilitating discussion of the internal law of the world’s indigenous nations. The internal law of indigenous nations encompasses traditional law, western law adopted by indigenous nations, and a blend of western and indigenous law. Underscoring this purpose is the recognition that traditional law is a source of law.

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