BLIND ARCHERS

“You are no longer blind when you can see through your fear.”

For nearly two decades, I have been creating the Pueblo Revolt 1680/2180 stories in clay; the words and advice of my mother keep coming back to me. When I was young I was very close to her and not only did she teach me, my sisters and brother, to make pottery, but she would tell us stories of our Pueblo people. Cochiti is a matriarchal society, with clans passed through the women. It is also the women who, when raising their children, share their stories of the past to help guide our future.

One lesson has stuck with me and lately, it resonates with a growing importance. It is about how the grandmothers would inspire us with positive instructions, saying, “do it this way”, instead of negative critiques, “don’t do it that way”. The mind has difficulty coping with the multitude of negatives and yet responds quickly to the positives. I have used the character of Tahu to convey this advice of the grandmothers and their positive outlook even in the face of adversity.

This attitude of the grandmothers has endured despite nearly 300 years of fear and intimidation imposed on the Pueblo people. They were forced through fear to stop speaking their native languages. Fear of retribution and punishment demanded that they change or hide their religious views. Fear of arbitrary restrictions, rules, and regulations enforced upon them made them adapt unorthodox methods of survival in an ever more complex world. Yet we have endured. It was the women who helped pass down our culture, history and teach us how to overcome our fears, both real and imagined.

My mother would often say, “If it wasn’t for the women, a lot of our traditions and ceremonies would be forgotten.” Blind Archers is a story about survival. It’s about hope, courage, determination, and appreciation. It’s about overcoming challenges and regaining strength. It is from this place of self-worth and empowerment that we can see the world as a place where we can freely express who we are and surround ourselves with people with whom we share a mutual honor and respect. It is inspired by women, but it is a story of how each of us can overcome fear in seeking the truth. May the spirit of Tahu be with you.

                                                                       Written by Virgil Ortiz