Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Renaissance Man -- Robert Mirabal

When my brother heard I was going to New Mexico, he said, "If you're anywhere near Taos, there's the most marvelous musician there. His name is Robert Mirabal and you ought to see if he's performing and go see him."

He couldn't believe it when I told him my itinerary -- we (travel writers on a press trip) were going to get to spend an afternoon with Robert Mirabal. And he's more than just a marvelous musician -- he's an author, an actor, a great cook and an important influence not only in his community but in a much wider context.

We met Robert at the Taos Pueblo -- a great World Heritage site -- the multi-storied adobe structures that have been home to the Taos people for over 1000 years. He walked with us as a lovely young woman named Winona took us on a tour.

Robert has a farm on the Pueblo land and had prepared an amazing lunch for us.

I can't begin to name all the dishes he and his wife Dawn had fixed for us but the menu included blue cornbread, fresh-baked bread, elk stew with wild celery and parched corn, elk with herbs, corn soup, deer meatballs, corn on the cob, pumpkin soup, trout, Indian tea and two different desserts.

While we ate, Robert told us of his efforts to bring farming back to the community. He talked about the traditional importance of corn to his people -- both as sustinance and for use in ceremonies. Farming has become a lost art and Robert and some of his friends are working hard to reintroduce this integral skill.
Robert Mirabal is walking the tightrope between the past and the future -- protecting the traditions of his people while also living as a citizen of the society at large. It's a difficult task but he approaches it with intelligence and dignity. He not only offered us hospitality, he honored us by sharing some of his culture and traditions with us. It was a memorable afternoon.

1 comment:

Pete Sleeper said...

Great photos and story. Felt like I was there.