|Jose Matus La Paz, Bolivia|
Where have you gone my frined
By Brenda Norrell
The year was 1995, and Jose Matus, Yaqui, was on that Indigenous delegation to Chiapas. We flew, road in the backs of trucks with AK47s pointed in our faces and hiked up mountains.
Jose distinguished himself by refusing to be part of the mass Catholic baptism of Mayans in the villages.
We spent our time on the mountain, with the Zapatistas who lived in a village, sleeping in huts, and a school building. We ate tortillas of fresh corn cooked in banana leaves. We celebrated beneath a single lamp as we heard of the movement for dignity and autonomy.
At night there was the sound of the shortwave. The resistance was a little over one year old. Marcos and the Comandantes were out there somewhere in the mountains, in the jungles. A helicopter hovered overhead, already the military had assassinated people in the village above us, the people who grow corn and coffee with their hands.
That was when I first met Jose Matus, Yaqui spiritual leader.
In the years that followed, I went with Jose to the Yaqui villages in Sonora, near the coast, and listened to his family play music, and speak of struggle and survival.
During those years, Jose made the long journey, about a six hour drive south of Tucson, to the villages to bring back the spiritual leaders who maintained the ceremonies in southern Arizona. The Deer Dancers. The Pascoles.
When Bolivia President Evo Morales put out the call for the Conference on Climate Change and Mother Earth in Cochabamba in 2010, we made plans to go. A generous man, Peter, paid for Jose to travel to Bolivia for the gathering.
As it turned out, Jose and I departed from the same plane in La Paz, Bolivia, and somehow shuffled through immigration.
Then, I had a heart attack. It was Jose who went for medicines for me, and somehow I survived, at least somewhat, for the conference. He took me for food and watched out for me during those days.
With Jose, there was always laughter. That sort of laughter where everyone knows this secret joke.
In the years that followed, Jose continued the Ceremonies, and worked hard to continue gatherings for the Indigenous Alliance without Borders.
All of our friends know these words are inadequate and do not do justice to this Long Road, how we all lived, struggled and survived.
Today, my friend Jose passed to the Spirit World.
Where have you gone my friend.
I'm hoping that this journey, like all the others, will be a grand one, and take you in peace to where you need to go. With love and light.
On Western Shoshone land, Jose Matus words