The Time is Now

Memoir about the Rez is more necessary than ever

By page six of Medicine and Miracles, I had already emailed Dr. Erica Elliott to request an interview. By the 10th page, I was in tears. Four hours later, I'd finished Elliott's memoir of her time as a white woman teaching, herding sheep and practicing medicine on the Navajo Reservation in the 1970s and '80s. A book that easily could have slipped into simplistic white-savior narrative was instead an honest, woke, deeply engrossing read about culture, friendship and steep learning curves, all set in one of the most breathtaking environments on the planet.

We meet Elliott in 1971 as a young, idealistic teacher from New England who finds herself in a fourth-grade classroom at a boarding school outside Chinle, and we learn along with her as she makes faux pas after faux pas. But she is always willing—perhaps even eager—to admit her mistakes, ever transparent about the struggles and miracles she experienced.

The story feels immediate and urgent, Elliott says, because it was essentially written in real time. "This is all from my diaries," she says. "I had basically written the story as it was unfolding."

A frequent refrain throughout is that no one will believe these stories. It's true, many are pretty wild (especially the ones about the peyote ceremonies); but, as Elliott tell SFR, "I'm not a bullshitter. At all. I have very little pretense, for somebody who's a medical doctor."

When asked why she decided to tell her story now, nearly 50 years after she first arrived on the rez, she says, "I can't go around my whole life holding in this story; it's too important. … I started blogging about this story right after the election in 2016. I saw so much hate in the news—just hate, hate, hate. So I thought, I've gotta make my contribution … to present a different kind of story; an antidote to the estrangement and alienation and hatred toward that which is different from us. I can't hold this in any more. It's time now." (Charlotte Jusinski)

Dr. Erica Elliott: Medicine and Miracles in the High Desert
2 pm Sunday May 5. Free.
op.cit Books,
DeVargas Center,
157 Paseo de Peralta,
428-0321;
Elliott's blog: musingsmemoirandmedicine.com

FIRE!

Courtesy Public Domain

Wildfires are always a concern in Santa Fe—but, according to the film Era of Megafires, in most cases here and elsewhere, while they may have grown worse, they're often preventable. Through a combination of interviews with experts, animated sequences and footage of wildfires, the documentary aims to educate and entertain, but also to chart action for the future. "[The film] kicks off Wildfire Preparedness Week by exposing the wicked problem of these huge wildfires," says event administrator Sam Berry of the Forest Stewards Guild. "There are solutions that can help to get us out of this mess." A panel Q&A and discussion with Berry and others follows the screening. (Per Olson)

Era of Megafires:
6 pm Wednesday May 1. $8.
Jean Cocteau Cinema,
418 Montezuma Ave.,
466-5528

Mr. Mister

Courtesy facebook.com/misterkalireggae

In January, celebrated local reggae champ Mister Kali released the jam "Hungry," featuring his fellow artist Dub Gideon, and the measured examination of the sorry state of international food politics and hunger was a banger and a half. It's no less than we expect from Kali, a longtime reggae hustler with his hand in more than a few local projects and a long and storied career of straight-up jams. Of course, there's bound to be plenty more where that came from, so when Kali schedules a show, it's probably worth it; y'know, just to find out what else he's working on. Find him this week at Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery, probably one of the only stages around town with a system that can handle that bass. (ADV)

Mister Kali: 
8 pm Friday May 3. Free.
Tumbleroot Brewery and Distillery
2791 Agua Fría St.

Playful

Courtesy Public Domain

If you don't love The Candyman Strings & Things by now, you probably hate music and friendship. We're talking over 40 years of friendly music and instrument sales, and a winner of the National Association of Music Merchants' coveted Best Retailer award. If you've ever wanted to learn an instrument, or even if you're just looking for a new addition to an already robust collection, The Candyman has you covered with gear, lessons, the best staff ever and a willingness to match internet prices on most items. The shop hosts a special event this week with demos, a commercial filming, a ukulele crash course and, we hear, Frito pies. (Alex De Vore)

The Candyman Wanna Play? Experience: 
10 am-4 pm Saturday May 4. Free.
The Candyman Strings & Things,
851 St. Michael's Drive,
983-5906.